my brother-in-law Lutzi Wutzi

The Habsburgs were not noted for attractive offspring

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.

Lutzi made a far more attractive lady, don't you think?

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.

...though this likeness of Lutzi is just plain scary

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.

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empress for a day

Want to walk a kilometer in my slippers? Well, you’re in luck! The Schoenbrunn Orangery offers a splendid tour called “Sisi’s Treasures,” where you may experience imperial Vienna through the eyes of the legendary Empress Elisabeth, aka, me.

For a mere 150 Euros you get the essence of life as, well, if not me, at least one of my servants.

Your tour begins at one of my castles (Schoenbrunn or the Hofburg), where you can marvel at my exercise equipment, ridiculously uncomfortable chairs, spectacularly formal silverware, and the minutia of my everyday life: hairbrushes, chamber pots, pen nibs. After all of that touring, you’ll be treated to a 3-course dinner at the Café-Restaurant Residenz (bring a sweetheart–there’s candles and ambience. Alcohol in abundance for an extra charge), and then, to top off your evening, you’ll attend a concert at the Orangery, performed by the Schoenbrunn Orchestra. It’s an explosion of all things Viennese!

What is an Orangery you ask? Fair question. It’s a fancy greenhouse, originally used to grow citrus trees in winter, so we royals were spared nasty diseases like scurvy and rickets. Here’s a sketch of Nicola Picassi’s Orangery, built in the mid-1700’s, it remains one of two noted, enormous Baroque Orangeries in the world (the other is in Versailles, of course–those French, always competing!)

If the above has you thinking: enough already with the Empress for a Day stuff you can always opt for the Mammals and Melodies Tour–in lieu of my castles, silver and underwear, you get a trip to the Vienna zoo as well as a beef in aspic dinner (that includes a shot of Swiss Pine schnapps!) and the Orangery concert described above.