If the EU learnt the teachings of the Habsburg empire then Brexit won’t have occurred, says descendant | EUROtoday

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When Eduard Habsburg-Lothringen was at college, his historical past trainer could be going via an episode in Europe’s chronicles and be aware: “That’s something Mr Habsburg surely knows about.”

He could be referring to the various occasions linked to the 850-year historical past of the Habsburg empire which touched virtually each nook of Europe proper up till the tip of the First World War.

Mr Habsburg – now Hungary’s ambassador to the Holy See in Rome – admitted that on the time he didn’t know as a lot as somebody from such an eminent household maybe ought to.

Speaking to The Independenthe joked: “You realise you don’t know, of course, because you’re not born with knowledge about the Habsburgs. Yes, so you begin to read, and that’s how I got to understand that – apart from England and France – in all the rest of Europe – German speaking, central Europe, Balkans, Italy, the Habsburgs were a big deal.”

Eduard Habsburg-Lothringen speaks to The Independent
Eduard Habsburg-Lothringen speaks to The Independent (Hungary Embassy)

The ambassador has since written his personal ebook in regards to the household The Habsburg Way: Seven Rules for Turbulent Times from which he hopes his household’s historical past can present life classes for folks now.

He defined: “I decided I’m not going to write another history of the Habsburgs, because there are tons of those; also I’m not a historian. So I said, let’s take the seven principles of the of the family and present them – a Habsburg self help book, you know. “

But among those he believes may need some self help is the European Union, especially when the question was put to him that the EU is trying to recreate the better parts of his family’s empire in bringing competing nations under the same umbrella to foster cooperation.

He paused saying: “I agree and disagree. I agree that the idea of the European Union is exactly that – having a group of nations working together for something greater – but the difference to the Holy Roman Emperor and to the Austro Hungarian empire is that both of them thrived on the idea of subsidiarity (respect for national sovereignty and identity).”

Hungary and the European Commission have been at loggerheads for quite a few years over Viktor Orban’s authorities refusing to use EU legislation and settle for European court docket rulings. It has led to cash being withheld from Budapest.

Ambassador Habsburg-Lothringen stated: “You should always respect at the lower level. Charles V wrote to his son Philip II, if you rule over several nations, you better respect their courts, their rights, their languages, their institutions, or you’re in deep trouble.

“And what I see in the European Union is that it has moved in a direction where there is a temptation of centralism, strong temptation of centralism, strong temptation of of a bureaucratic apparatus trying to pull as much power towards the centre as possible away from the lower levels.

“Hungary feels this every time that Brussels tries to interfere in our own legislation and in our own affairs as we feel it.”

He identified that when the Habsburgs over centralised, it was a “catastrophe” however every time they revered the decrease ranges, “the monarchy thrived”.

Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Sophie the Duchess of Hohenberg, just before their assassination in Sarajevo
Franz Ferdinand, inheritor to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Sophie the Duchess of Hohenberg, simply earlier than their assassination in Sarajevo (AFP/Getty)

He cited Joseph II making an attempt to centralise every thing in Vienna with one language and one set of establishments, even taking the crown of Hungary away from Budapest, bringing the empire to the brink of catastrophe.

“He returned it in the last year of his reign realising his mistake.”

He is conscious of the burden of his household’s historical past however feels Europe “lost something” when the household was dethroned after the First World War.

He quoted the late Henry Kissinger, who he met six weeks earlier than his loss of life, saying: “The Habsburgs were the best thing that ever happened to Europe, especially central Europe. The moment they were taken out of the equation all the problems began all over central Europe and haven’t stopped. “

But with a hint of melancholy he also thinks of what for many is the most infamous episode in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 when the assassination of archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie effectively plunged Europe and the world into the First World War.

“If the car wouldn’t have turned exactly at that place where [the Bosnian-Serb nationalist assassin] Gavrilo Princip happened to walk back from his failed assassination attempt, imagine perhaps no First World War, perhaps no misery, no Hitler, no Holocaust, and perhaps still a Habsburg Monarchy in Austria, because Franz Ferdinand would have perhaps managed to get all the monarchy even more together. We don’t know.”

The ambassador was in London to have a good time the lifetime of his relative Otto von Habsburg, a former member of the European Parliament and the final crown prince.

“Knowing Otto, I have met someone who has stood beside Emperor Franz Joseph when he himself was a little blond, curly haired boy, and who remembered the crowning of his father in in Budapest, and he showed me the exact spot where he looked down from the balcony inside the church and saw his father lying on the floor before being crowned. So for me, Habsburg history was always very, very real.”