Duchess Helene

Whatever happened to Duchess Helene in Bavaria, after emperor Franz Joseph of Austria left her standing, in favour of her younger sister Sisi?

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Duchess Helene in Bavaria, Sisi’s sister

The most devastating scene in the Sissi film is of course,  when Franz Joseph appears with his flowers, walks straight past Helene and gives them to Sisi instead. The horror! The humiliation!

Hopefully, in reality, Franz Joseph had a more diplomatic approach when he decided he wanted to marry the younger sister. If not, it could be the reason why Helene looks so angry on all her pictures!

Helene travelled to Bad Ischl in 1853 together with her mother, Ludovika, and her sister Sisi, with only one single goal in mind, getting engaged to Emperor Franz Joseph.

Duchess Helene in Bavaria

This is what their mothers, Princess Ludovika of Bavaria and  Archduchess Sophie of Austria  set up for them.
Ludovika and Sophie are sisters, both daughters of Maximilian I of Bavaria. This means both Helene and Sisi are first cousins of Emperor Franz-Joseph. 

Helene is trilled by the idea of becoming the Austrian Empress, and she is well equipped for the job. She is obedient and pious and has the right age.

But the intriguing mothers and Helene did not take account of Franz Joseph’s opinion. When he met the 15-year-old Sisi, he fell head over heels in love with her, and he chose her as his wife, instead of Helene.

Sisi and Franz-Joseph are engaged immediately and get married very soon. Duchess Helene has to go back to Possenhofen alone.

Helene finds a prince of herself

Helene, Princess of Thurn and Taxis

Helene fell into a deep depression, wouldn’t we all after such disgrace? Her parents were afraid that she would join a convent, and tried to find her another husband to prevent this.

They finally arranged a meeting with Maximilian Anton Lamoral, the Hereditary Prince of Thurn and Taxis.
 The

They simply invited the whole Thurn und Taxis family for a hunting party at Possenhofen. Ludovika made sure that Helene and Maximilian would meet at the dinner afterwards. And, this time mother got it right, they liked each other!

Maximilian Anton Lamoral, 7th Prince of Thurn and Taxis

At first the marriage was not approved by Maximilian II of Bavaria, who thought Maximilian was not of the right lineage. They got married in 1858, after interference of Sisi and Franz- Joseph, who persuaded the king of Bavaria to give them his blessings. 

Maybe they felt they had to make up something?

Helene and Maximilliam and 2 of their children

Princess Helene of Thurn and Taxis

Helene and Maximilian had a happy marriage, living in the beautiful Schloss Thurn und Taxis in Regensburg. They had 4 children, and their descendants still live there. In fact, she was the only Wittelsbach child with a happy marriage, so in the end, Franz-Joseph and Sisi had probably done her a favour by falling in love! 

Misfortune kept following Helene though, her husband had weak health and died very young at the age of 35 from kidney failure. They were married less then 10 years.

Helene did not remarry. She worked for charity and became head of the House of Thurn and Taxis when her father-in-law died and her sons were underage.

Albert II, the 12th Prince of Thurn und Taxis

Helene dies on 16 May 1890, age 56. She is buried in the St. Emmeram's Abbey, the family crypt of the Thurn und Taxis family.

Today the descendants of Duchess Helene still live in Schloss Thurn und Taxis in Regensburg.  Prince Albert II, the 12th Prince of Thurn und Taxis, born in 1983 is now head of the family. He is the great-great-grandson of Duchess Helene, a billionaire and (ladies!) still single!

Visit  Regensburg

To explore the medieval city of Regensburg you can take a day trip from Munich. With a guide you will take a walking tour in the narrow streets and squares of this UNESCO-listed Old Town (Altstadt).

If you want to spend more that one day in Regensburg, accommodations can be found here.

Some suggestions:

Park Hotel Maximilian

If you want to spend your time in Regensburg in style, book at this Bavarian palace in Baroque-style. It is now a 4 star hotel in the centre of the Old Town with easy access to restaurants and shopping. As it is located in the heart of the city of Regensburg, with its long history and many museum, the location is perfect. 

Castle Hotel Regensburg

Much cheaper, but with great views on the Castle Thurn and Taxis, you can stay at this  Bed and Breakfast with 7 rooms. It is also located in the center of Regensburg, right across the Palace St. Emmeran, house of Thurn und Taxis.

Booking.com

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