some tidbits on my siblings …

Doesn’t my gay brother-in-law look thrilled to be in this portrait with my two hot sisters?

We Wittelsbach children were a handful, I admit. The eight of us were wild children, raised to ride well and walk as though we had wings beneath our feet, but stable, long-term relationships were not our strong suit.

My eldest brother, Ludwig, was raised to be a military man, but his real love was the theater, and he fell head over heels for an actress named Henriette. He soon knocked her up (twice) which caused quite a stir in the court. Wittelsbachs don’t marry commoners, apparently, and it was up to me to legislate his union with the woman. Which I did. Not that it did any good–she was shunned from the circle, and died, bitter and aggrieved. After which, my brother married (and divorced) a young dancer before having a fatal heart attack at age 90.

Helene (known to us as Nené), as you know, was slated to marry Franz Josef, when I scooped her in Bad Ischl. Poor Nené tried not to be bitter, and was bee-lining toward old maid, when Maximilian Anton von Thurn and Taxis scooped her up, and in short order, along came four babies. All was not well with poor Max, who died at the young age of 36, leaving Helene to raise their small children alone (with the help of a full staff and governesses and so on , of course).

My favorite brother Karl Theodor (Gackl), lost his first wife to tuberculosis (which he also suffered from). At age 35 he married 17-year-old Princess maria Josepha of Braganza with whom he had five children.

My handsome little brother Mapperl. What a cutie!

My three little sisters were all somewhat precocious–each of them (Marie, Mathilde and Sophie), engaging in countless affairs–even having “secret” children with their lovers who were squired off and raised elsewhere. Marie, known as The Heroine of Gaeta, had a husband with a malformed organ (which was eventually corrected, but not before she gave birth to a set of bastard twins by her lover); Mathilde ‘Spatz” married Marie’s brother, whom she despised; and poor Sophie — she kept getting set up with gay men (my brother-in-law and our cousin Mad King Ludwig II), and was eventually betrothed to Duke Ferdinand of Alencon. Ah, but dear Sophie was a handful, and eventually ran off with her doctor, for which she was punished and thrown into a mental asylum and shocked into submission.

My youngest sibling, dear brother Mapperl (Max Emanuel), had perhaps the happiest marriage. He wed his love, Princess Amelie of Coburg (even though she’d been promised to Prince Leopold of Bavaria–something I took care of by suggesting my daughter, Gisela, in Amalie’s place). They had three sons together before Mapperl died of ulcers at age 42.

As you can see, happily ever after was NOT the Wittelsbach tagline!

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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.