The Bourbon Parma family is very illustrious, descending as they do from the Kings of France, Spain, Naples and the Emperors of Austria. However, from the latter part of the 19th century into the early 20th century, it was also one of most incestuous and inbred. Many will object to the use of the word "incestuous" when referring to European royalty, BUT---
When inter-family marriages are repeated over and over again, from one generation to the next, when cousins marry cousins and nieces marry uncles, etc, it spells disaster genetically.
This was the case of the marriage of Robert of Bourbon-Parma and his first wife, Maria Pia of Bourbon-Sicily. If you examine the tangled family relationships, you'll note that they were VERY closely related and had common ancestors going back MANY generations.
Of the twelve children they had, only three were judged to possess normal intelligence: Marie Louise, Elias, and Beatrice. The other nine were definitely retarded and had to be supervised all of their lives. The two elder boys, Joseph and Henry, spent most of their lives under supervision at Villa delle Pianore, the Parma chateau near Viareggio.
Prince Elias was made acting Head of the Family under the terms of his father's last will and testament. As noted in a previous listing, Elias became "Duke of Parma" in 1950. He ensured that his retarded siblings received the supervision and care required.
All twelve of the children of Robert and Maria Antoinia, his second wife, were normal, although not particularly good-looking. The best-looking Bourbon-Parma princess from that generation, Maria Antoinia, became a nun. An existing photograph taken prior to her vows shows a stunning young woman.
Robert of Bourbon-Parma was an extremely wealthy man. Not only did he inherit a vast fortune from his uncle, the Comte de Chambord, but he was also the heir of his grandfather, Charles II of Parma, who died in the spring of 1883 (Chambord died in the fall of 1883). Charles II (known at the Comte de Villafranca) left his extremely valuable library of religious books to his grandson, for example.
Robert owned four significent properties:
Chateau de Chambord in France
Chateau Schwarzau-am-Steinfeld in Austria
Villa delle Pianore in Italy
Chateau Wartegg in Switzerland
Chambord is now a museum and can be visited, of course.
Schwarzau is a women's prison and cannot be visited.
Pianore is a school but can be visited if arrangements are made beforehand. Wartegg stood abandoned for many years, but has now been turned into a fine hotel.
The Bourbon-Parma family, by and large, are buried in the crypt of the Villa Borbone (or Tenuta Reale) just outside Viareggio, Italy---not too far from Pianore. Villa Borbone is now owned by the city, but the adjoining chapel and crypt are owned by Archduke Dominik of Austria, the great-grandson of Princess Marguerite of Bourbon-Parma, Duchesse de Madrid----Robert of Bourbon-Parma's elder sister.
I've always been interested in the relationship between Prince Elias and his half-brothers, Xavier and Sixte. I believe there was some discord in the family regarding their father's estate and the distribution of the enormous proceeds from the confiscation of the Chateau de Chambord. Does anyone have any information on this?