Old people these days are much more modern than when I was young.

You could talk with people who had fought in the Boer War. And I once spoke with somebody who (as a history project) had spoken to people who had participated in the Boxer Rebellion (1898-1901). Older people remembered a time before motor cars and aeroplanes. The typical caricature of an old man had a long beards like Ned Kelly in the 1880s, rather than today's older men with the clean shaven look of the 1920s. In theory you could have spoken with somebody who had once spoken with somebody who had met Napoleon (although it was pretty unlikely).

In reading a recent article in The Economist, I learnt of a notable survivor who I hadn't suspected was still alive: Otto von Habsburg.

He's 97 and he was the heir apparent to the Austro Hungarian Empire when his father Charles took the throne in 1916 following the death of Archduke Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xavier Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius of Austria, Emperor when World War I started. As The Economist points out, he's probably one of the last people alive who can remember what the Empire was like, having been heir apparent (and six years old - which is old enough to have distinct memories) when it collapsed in 1918. Should the Austrians, Hungarians, the Czechs, Slovaks, Serbs (perhaps with some Poles, Italians, Romanians, Bosnians, Herzegovinians, Slovenes, Ukraines and maybe some others) decide to reinstate the empire, then Emperor Otto would assume the throne without any successor being skipped.

Otto has been the pretender since has father died in 1922. The fact that he's still around tickles my fancy.

Here's a photo of him with mum and dad when he was a little tacker:

Image:Otto von Habsburg

Comments (1)
Anthony Holmes February 24th, 2010 10:04:42 PM

1) Otto von Habsburg
Felix Pfeifle 11/04/2010 4:51:13 PM

Dr. von Habsburg, as he calls himself publicly, renounced the throne to Austria in 1961 and so has not been Pretender since 1922.

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