Duchess of Mecklenburg, Princess of Wenden, Schwerin and Ratzeburg, Countess of Schwerin,
Lady of the Lands of Rostock and Stargard, Princess of Mecklenburg-
Archduchess Ilona was born on 20 April 1927 in Budapest. She was the daughter of Archduke József Ferenc of Austria and his wife Archduchess Anna.
Although the Habsburg-
Archduchess Ilona was christened into the Roman Catholic Church on 30 May 1927 being named after her godmother Queen Elena of Italy who was represented at the ceremony by the Italian Ambassador to Hungary Count Ercole Durini di Monza. Ilona is the Hungarian version of Elena which in German is Helene.
Archduchess Ilona spent her childhood in Budapest where her family lived in a villa on Tapolcsany Street in Budapest’s district II which her father had acquired following his marriage to Princess Anna of Saxony in 1924. She lived here until the early the 1940s when the family moved to another part of the city taking up residence in a villa on Palatinus Street in Budapest’s district III. In addition to the city villas her family also owned the Alscut Palace located outside of the capital.
For her education Archduchess Ilona attended the public Montessori School in Budapest
where she studied alongside her sisters the Archduchesses Margit; born 1925, and
Life outside Hungary
Hungary’s entry into the Second World War in 1940 would mark the beginning of the end of Archduchess Ilona and her family’s time in Hungary. In late 1944 following the Soviet Union’s invasion Archduchess Ilona and her family were forced to flee the country via Austria to Sigmaringen in Germany. During their early years abroad the family survived with the support of their Hohenzollern relations who provided them with a residence at Sigmaringen Castle, and by selling the jewels that Archduchess Ilona’s grandmother Archduchess Auguste had managed to bring out of Hungary by sowing them into her clothes.
In Sigmaringen Archduchess Ilona met the young hereditary prince of Mecklenburg-
Duchess of Mecklenburg
The newlywed couple stayed on in the state of Württemberg-
In the 1950s and 1960s Archduchess Ilona witnessed the marriages of two of her cousins
into the Grand Ducal Family. In 1956 her second cousin Archduchess Charlotte, daughter
of the Blessed Emperor Karl, was married to her widowed father in law Duke Georg,
followed in 1965 by her first cousin Princess Maria Margarethe of Hohenzollern to
her brother in law Duke Carl Gregor. With the death of her father in law on 6 July
1963 and her husband’s succession as head of the House of Meklenburg-
Following the divorce Archduchess Ilona lived for a time in Münster, North Rhine-