Thirteen days of commemoration for Otto von Habsburg begins
Jul 5, 2011, 12:08 GMT
Vienna/Poecking, Germany - A massive 13-day commemoration for Otto von Habsburg got underway Tuesday, starting off a series of wakes, masses and burials in three countries for the last crown prince of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
The uncrowned oldest son of the last Habsburg emperor, Karl I, lay in repose Tuesday in the southern German city of Poecking, his home for the last years of his life. Habsburg died Monday, age 98.
His remains are scheduled to be transferred to the Catholic pilgrimage town of Mariazell next Tuesday, before they move to Vienna.
Von Habsburg's body is to be entombed in the family's crypt in Vienna on July 16, while his heart is to be buried a day later in Budapest.
'This is part of family ritual and tradition,' a family spokesman said, commenting on the three-country wake that includes five memorial masses in as many locations.
The spokesman said it was too early to release a list of politicians and aristocrats attending the funeral in Vienna.
Although there are few monarchists in Austria, aristocratic burials have roused nostalgic sentiments in the past. Some 40,000 spectators attended the Vienna funeral of Otto von Habsburg's mother, empress Zita, in 1989.
Von Habsburg is not only remembered as a German member of the European Parliament, but also for backing a protest event on the Austrian-Hungarian border in 1989 which led to a mass exodus of East Germans to the West.