Franz Ferdinand’s crypt


Sir, – Frank McNally (An Irishman’s Diary, June 30th) is correct in his estimate of the number of hunting victims of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. As he notes, the records of the kills are contained at Schloss Artstetten, on the Danube, some 100km from Vienna. But Artstetten is not just “one of his old family homes”.

Franz Ferdinand spent his summers there as a child and later because of the imposed morganatic [different rank] nature of their marriage his beloved Sophie could not be interred with him in the imperial crypt, the Kaisergrupt, in Vienna. Following the death of a stillborn child in 1908 he commenced the construction of a crypt at Artstetten for himself, Sophie and their descendants.

Little did he realise how soon it would be required.

The crypt is austere, a striking contrast to the ornate chapel above. Two identical white marble sarcophagi lie side by side linked by a Latin inscription which in translation reads “Joined by marriage are united in the same destiny”.

– Yours, etc,


Mount Merrion,

Co Dublin.