[This post was written by Arturo E. Béeche and originally appeared on Eurohistory’s former blog in 2013.]

I purchased this beautiful photo at an auction in Berlin two weeks ago. It was a hard fought battle, but luckily I succeeded and now this amazingly rare, signed photo is part of the Eurohistory Archive!

But who is the lady in question, my readers may wonder?

She is Princess Sophie von Metternich (1857-1941), eldest daughter of Fürst Richard von Metternich (the Austrian Chancellor’s eldest surviving son, who was Austrian ambassador to France during the reign of Napoleon III) and of his wife, and niece, the former Countess Pauline Sándor von Szlanicza (1836-1921), one of the most famous luminaries at the court of Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie. Pauline was the daughter of Princess Leontine von Metternich (1811-1861) and of her husband Count Moritz Sándor von Szlanicza, who died in 1878.

Sophie, the eldest of three daughters, married Fürst Franz Albrecht zu Oettingen-Oettingen und Oetingen-Spielberg (1847-1916). Sophie was the mother of three children: Franz (1879-1895), Moritz (1885-1911) and Princess Elisabeth (1886-1976), who in 1910 married Viktor III (1879-1945), Duke of Ratibor, Fürst von Corvey.

It was Sophie’s sister, Princess Klementine who adopted Franz Albrecht, Sophie’s grandson. Since the adoption, which took place in the late 1920s, Franz Albrecht and his descendants have used the last name “Metternich-Sándor.”

The Ratibor und Corvey family owned vast estates in Central Europe. These estates included the duchy of Ratibor in Upper Silesia. The title of Duke of Ratibor was acquired by Landgraf Victor Amadeus of Hesse-Rotenburg in 1821. King Frederick William IV of Prussia, in 1840, granted it to the landgrave’s nephew Prince Viktor of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, in turn for his renunciation of the Hohenlohe inheritance in favor of his younger brother Chlodwig, who later became German Imperial Chancellor during the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

From Landgraf Victor Amadeus, the last of his line, Prince Viktor of Hohenlohe-Schillngsfürst (1818-1893), who became the Duke of Ratibor and Prince of Corvey, besides Ratibor, inherited the impressive estate of Corvey in Westphalia. In Austria, the family owns one of the country’s most beautiful estates, Schloß Grafenegg, site of a renowned summer music festival.

Although the family’s once vast estates in Silesia and Bohemia were lost after the end of the Second World War, there was still quite a bit left. The remaining estates were inherited by Franz Albrecht, only surviving son of Princess Elisabeth and Duke Viktor III.

Franz Albrecht Metternich-Sándor, Duke of Ratibor, Fürst of Corvey, was born in Rauden (the duchy of Ratibor) in 1920. In 1962 he married Altgräfin Isabella zu Salm-Reifferscheidt-Krautheim und Dyck (b. 1939). The ceremony took place in Dyck, Germany. Married for nearly five decades, Franz Albrecht and Isabella were the parents of five sons: Viktor (b. 1964), married to Alexandra von Wohlgemuth, Tassilo (b. 1965), who is married to Countess Clarissa zu Törring-Jettenbach (Clarissa is a granddaughter of Princess Elisabeth of Greece and thus a Romanov and Schleswig-Holstein descendant), Stephan (b. 1968), who married Kathleen Robbins, Benedikt (b. 1971), who married Anna-Christine von Oswald, and Philipp (b. 1976), who married Countess Assunta Calice.

Duke Franz Albrecht passed away in June 2009. His obituary was included inside Eurohistory Issue LXXI (Volume 12.5 – October 2009).

His son Viktor IV is the current Duke of Ratibor, Fürst of Corvey.

The late Franz Albrecht, Duke of Ratibor, Fürst of Corvey,

Eurohistory Issue LXXI – Volume 12.5, October 2009

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