Erzherzog Karl Albrecht

Erzherzog Karl Albrecht Nikolaus Leo Gratianus was born on the 18th of December 1888 at Pola as the eldest son of Admiral Erzherzog Karl Stephan and Erzherzogin Maria Theresia. In 1907 he was sent to the k.u.k. Technical Military Academy and after successfully passing the examinations was promoted to Leutnant in Feldhaubitz-Regiment (Field Howitzer Regiment) number 2 on the 14th of August 1910. On the 28th of October of the same year he received the grand cross of the Belgian Order of Leopold followed by his admission to the Order of the Golden Fleece. On the 27th of April 1912 Erzherzog Karl Albrecht received the grand cross of the Bulgarian Order of Cyrill and Methodius and was transferred to the reitende Artillerie Division (Mounted Artillery Detachment) number 2 on the 23rd of September 1912. It seems that the young Erzherzog was a talented artillery officer and for his performance he received the certificate of commendation from the war minister on the 8th of March 1913, followed by his promotion to Oberleutnant on the 27th of April 1913. Shortly after his 25th birthday on the 25th of December 1913 he was again honored by receiving the commendation of the Kaiser which allowed him to wear the Bronze Military Merit Medal (Signum Laudis) on the red ribbon for excellent performance during peacetime.

When the war started in 1914 he went with his unit to the eastern front where he soon was honored for bravery in the field with the award of the Military Merit Cross 3rd class with war decoration on the 22nd of October 1914 and the award of the Prussian Iron Cross 2nd class on the 7th of November 1914. Erzherzog Karl Albrecht was now attached to the General staff performing duty at the Landesverteidigungskommando in Tyrol shortly followed by his promotion to Hauptmann on the 1st of March 1915. For his performance at the Tyrolean defence command he received on the 13th of October 1915 the commendation of the Kaiser which allowed him to wear the Bronze Military Merit Medal (Signum Laudis) on the ribbon of the Military Merit Cross for excellent performance during wartime. Also the allies honored him again; he received the 2nd class of the Military Merit Cross of Mecklenburg-Schwerin on the 8th of November 1915 and the Bavarian Military Merit Order 4th class on the 12th of January 1916. Returning to troop duty he took over command of the 1st division of Field Howitzer Regiment number 14. For gallant conduct with this unit he again received the commendation of the Kaiser which allowed him to wear the Silver Military Merit Medal (Signum Laudis) with war ribbon on the 19th of April 1916. For recent bravery in the field he received accelerated promotion to Major and the 3rd class of the Order of the Iron Crown with war decoration on the 30th of May 1916.

In April 1916 Field Howitzer Regiment number 8 was transformed into regiment number 9 and newly rebuilt by part of Field Howitzer Regiment number 14. In August 1916 Erzherzog Karl Albrecht took over command of this "new" Field Howitzer Regiment number 8 and remained in command until November 1917. For his excellent performance as a regimental commander he was honored with the award of the knights cross of the Order of Leopold with war decoration on the 26th of January 1917 and received accelerated promotion to Oberstleutnant only one day later. On the 5th of January 1917 he received the Bulgarian Order of Bravery 4th class and the Ottoman Sultan awarded him the Golden Liakat-Medal and the Iron Crescent on the 22nd of February 1917. During the year 1917 he received retroactively the swords for all his previously received war decorations and the newly introduced Karl-Truppen-Kreuz. After his promotion to Oberst on the 1st of November 1917 and a short leave home he took over command of the 23rd infantry brigade in February 1918 and held this command until the end of the war. Similar to all other Archdukes he was transferred to "außer Dienst" or retired status by order of the new authorities on the 1st of December 1918.

Erzherzog Karl Albrecht, who spoke fluent Polish, now settled in Poland where he joined the national army in 1919 in the rank of Colonel. In 1920 he married the widow Gräfin Alice Badeni (born Ankarcrona) from a Swedish noble family with whom he had a son and a daughter at Saybusch in Galicia. In 1939 the family fled to Sweden where they again settled down. From 1949 the family carried the name Princes of Altenburg following the decision of the head of the family. On the 17th of March 1951 Karl Prinz von Altenburg, the former Erzherzog Karl Albrecht, died at Östervik near Stockholm at the age of only 63.

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