This month, we revisit and expand upon the fascinating royal background of our WestView contributor, Antonia Maxwell. (See her piece, “Coffee with Antonia,” in the February 2017 issue of WestView.) Born in Argentina, Antonia descends from the Habsburg-Lothringen line on her mother’s side—one of the most influential royal families in Europe. Throughout history, European thrones have been continuously occupied by the Habsburgs. Beginning in the 16th century, the dynasty was split between its Austrian and Spanish branches. However, despite ruling distinct territories, the branches maintained close relations.
During the First World War, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire was defeated, the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, where Antonia’s family resided, was confiscated. Parts of this palace and other impressive structures were converted into military hospitals. Shortly thereafter, Antonia’s great-grandmother, Blanca de Borbón (“Doña Blanca”), and other family members, fled the territory and sought exile in Spain, under Alfonso XIII. (Doña Blanca first visited Spain with her parents for a short period in 1845 and then in 1919 after the First World War.) During the Spanish Civil War, fearing the communists and anarchists, Doña Blanca was offered to stay in one of her own palaces in Viareggio, Tuscany “only if paying rent.” She remained there until the end of her days.
Although Antonia continues to travel extensively, the West Village continues to draw her back, time and time again.
(Pictured above, in the far left of the front row, is Antonia’s grandmother, M. Antonia—also known as the Archduchess of Austria, the Princess of Tuscany, and the Princess of Bologna—along with her father and sisters.)