God bless the homosexual men in my life. Unlike those serious, straight fellows who are always going on and on about dominion and defense strategies, polishing swords and adjusting their packages, the fops at Court have always been far more entertaining and personable.
Take my cousin Mad Ludwig. O sure, he had his issues–falling in love with his psychiatrist, obsessing over his fairy castle–but Ludwig II had an appreciation for the finer things. He kept Wagner in Steinways and patronized many a sculptor, filling his halls with marble busts and glamourous facades. Ludwig, who I’ve written about several times, was my playmate and confidante during those crazy Crimean years and various uprisings.
But Ludwig II wasn’t the only Mad Ludwig in my life.
My husband’s youngest brother, a man the Habsburgs literally kept in the closet (one offsite, as it turns out) was also named Ludwig. Ludwig Viktor, commonly referred to as the Archduke Lutzi Wutzi.
Like Ludwig II, Lutzi had an eye for design. He commissioned a fancy Italian-style palace on the ring where he hosted his infamous single-sex soires inviting guests to “dress in costume,” wink-wink.
As the baby in a family of boys, Lutzi was coddled by his mum, the ever-protective Archduchess Sophie. Rumor has it that the matriarch, lamenting that she had no girls, would dress her youngest boy up in gowns and crinolines. I suppose the outfits grew on him, as he seemed much more comfortable pantsless.
As with her other sons, the Archduchess was quite meddlesome in matters of betrothal, eventually setting her sights on my youngest sister–her namesake, Sophie Charlotte–as the perfect bride. Sophie, perhaps the prettiest of all of us Wittelsbach daughters, took one look at her intended and commenced to vomit. (Unfortunately for dear Sophie Charlotte, the family also tried hooking her up with the other gay Ludwig–the poor dear had quite a complex, and all but swore off men entirely–but that’s a story for a different day.)
I adored my brother-in-law, however, and we spent many afternoons together in the royal apartments over tea, where he offered good counsel on fashion and accessories while gossiping about who at Court was with child versus merely fat–splendid girl talk. Alas, dear Lutzi could not keep a secret, and after many a divulgement, I had to banish him from my inner circle.
Just as well, however, as my Franzl soon had to banish him from Vienna proper after one of his Orientalist steam bath encounters resulted in an officer giving the archduke a black eye when his royal hand squeezed the soldier’s very heterosexual knee. To avoid further scandal my emperor sent his baby brother into internal exile in his provincial bolthole, Schloss Kleßheim in Salzburg, where he lived notoriously and happily ever after.