It´s a beautiful but also a very tragical history.
Sophie Maria Josephine Albina Chotek was the fourth daughter of the Chief Equerry of the Austrian Imperial Court, the czech Bohuslaw Chotek von Chotkova und Wognin, and his wife, Wilhelmine Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau. Sophie was of a noble birth, and she had among their ancestor in female line princes of Baden, of Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Liechtenstein, but it was not good enough to became the bride of an archduke.
Franz Ferdinand met Sophie in 1895, reputedly at a ball in Prague. The prince and the countess fell madly in love. By this time, she was a lady-in-waiting to Archduchess Isabella, born princess Isabella of Cröy-Dülmen, wife of Archduke Friedrich, Duke of Teschen. Our Franz Ferdinand began to visit with great frequency Archduke Friedrich and Archduchess Isabelle´s villa in Bratislava. The couple believed that the pressumptive heir to the austrian throne was making courtship to their eldest daughter, archduchess Marie Christina, a suitable bride. But the pressumptive heir was making courtship to his enchantress "Soph".
Franz Ferdinand and Soph kept their relationship a secret for more than two years. She wrotte him a great number of tender letters during the time he was recovering from his tuberculosis in an island situated far away, in the Adriatic Sea. Not the time, neither the distance, broke up the ties between them.
In 1898, the romance was discovered by Archduchess Isabelle. She opened the watch that Franz Ferdinand have left at her home, expecting to find a picture of her daughter Marie Christina or, at least, one of her another seven daughters...but she found the portrait of her lady-in-waiting Sophie. The czech countess was quickly dismissed from her position and a public scandal was created.
A great struggle happened between emperor Franz Joseph and his nephew and heir Franz Ferdinand. The emperor refused to allow a marriage with Soph, but Franz Ferdinand refused go give his true and only love up. Finally, in 1899, a compromise was reached and the old emperor agreed to permit the weeding if the marriage was a morganatic one. Sophie could not be called "archduchess", none of their future children could ever inherit the throne or any royal tittles, she had to enter state functions at the very end of the line, she could never sit with her husband in the opera or the theatre or during a carriage ride through the beautiful Vienna Woods. Apparently, Sophie bore all these insults better than Franz Ferdinand.
The couple married around 10:30 in the morning the frist of July 1900 at Reichstadt, Bohemia. Of course, emperor didn´t attend the marriage, nor did any archduke. The two brothers of the groom, Otto Franz and Ferdinand Karl, were not presents. By the way, Franz Ferdinand and Ferdinand Karl were in bad terms for years due to the fact that Ferdinand Karl refused Sophie Chotek. It´s funny to know that, a few years later, Ferdinand Karl fell in love and married morganatically Bertha Czuber.
The beloved step-mother of Franz Ferdinand, archduchess Maria Theresa, attended the marriage with her two daughters, Maria Annunziata and Elisabeth.
Upon the marriage, Sophie was given the tittle Fürstin von Hohenberg, with the style Her Serene Highness. Her status was raised considerably in 1909, when she was created Herzogin von Hohenberg with the style Her Highness.
She bore three children to Franz Ferdinand: Sophie, Maximilian and Ernst.
It was said that she was pregnant when she was killed together with her husband by Gavrilo Princip, but it´s untrue. Sophie had her three children and a stillborn son in 1908. After the birth of the stillborn son, doctors advised her not to became pregnant again because she would put in risk her life.