In memory of Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Lisle Strutt, C.B.E., D.S.O. (1874—1948), staunch partisan of the Old European Order, committed defender of the Blessed Charles of Austria-Hungary
Edward Lisle Strutt was born on February 8, 1874 as a grandson of the first Baron Belper — after whom he was named — and a future cousin of the third Baron Belper. He was a devout partisan of the Old European Order. He served in the Great War for His Britannic Majesty George V in the Royal Scots. He served as protector and rescuer of the Austro-Hungarian Imperial-Royal Family in February and March of 1919. Shortly after that he was invested as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He passed on from this world 60 years ago today.
The Situation in Austria
The War had ended. The democratic republican age — with its pervasive government — was dawning. The monarchical age was setting. Whilst the latter had been challenged for quite some time, the war had completely destroyed the monarchical order’s immune system. This was with "good" help from Woodrow Wilson’s crusade to make the world safe for democracy, but this crusade was of course not the only contributing factor.
The Austrian Emperor had renounced power on November 11, 1918, but without abdicating. His Imperial and Royal Majesty signed a similar declaration as King of Hungary two days later. He had gone with his family into internal exile at Eckartsau — at the hunting lodge there.
That summer the Eastern Emperor and his family had suffered the tragedy at Yekaterinburg. At the Britannic Court in London, King George V reproached himself for what had been allowed to happen to the Russian Imperial Family. There was fear that a similar fate was about to overtake the Western Emperor and his family. With the armed radicals running around in Austria at the time, this was no unfounded fear.
Also, Kaiser Karl was remembered as the Emperor who had sought peace and the Archduke who represented the old Kaiser Franz Josef at His Britannic Majesty’s own coronation. This indeed gave memories of an old peaceful order that now brutally had been destructed.
At the personal initiative of His Britannic Majesty, the Austro-Hungarian Imperial-Royal Family is put under British protection.
The Background and Sentiment of Strutt
The late Habsburg biographer Gordon Brook-Shepherd tells us about Strutt in The Last Habsburg and The Uncrowned Emperor: The Life and Times of Otto von Habsburg.
Lieutenant-Colonel Strutt was a Catholic, like the Emperor he was sent to protect. He was educated in Windsor and at Oxford, and in Innsbruck, Austria. In addition to his native English, the Lt.-Col. was fluent in German and French.
Strutt was a British officer who served the double eagle and the Habsburg black and yellow colors with a fervor second only to the loyalty to His Britannic Majesty.
Edward Lisle Strutt was a partisan of the Old European Order. He was a symbol of personal powers of a monarch, as he was sent on the monarch’s personal initiative. He was a symbol of solidarity between monarchs. Strutt was on the fringe related to the Habsburgs. On arrival at the hunting lodge in Eckartsau, he found a photo of the late Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who was assassinated in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, and himself.
As a grandson of the first Lord Belper, Lt.-Col. Strutt was a British aristocrat. The Belper motto was and is Propositi tenax (u2018Firm of purpose’). There was indeed purpose with the Lt.-Col.
Strutt was to have a life-long passionate devotion for the Habsburg family. He was a life-long friend of the Archduke Otto.
On Mission in Austria
A few officers preceded Lt.-Col. Strutt in this protection mission. Strutt arrived at Eckartsau on February 27, 1919.
On March 17, Strutt received advice from the War Office in London that the Emperor should depart Austria for Switzerland, without any guarantees for the journey.
The new republican government was talking about abdication, exile, and internment.
On March 20, as an officer of the Royal Scots on the territory of a defeated ex-enemy, Lt.-Col. Strutt walks into the office of the republican government’s Chancellor, Dr. Karl Renner, and demands: "Please stand up in future when I enter your room!" Renner immediately jumped to his feet. Not much later he ordered an Imperial train to be assembled. The Emperor was to leave as, yes, Emperor!
Chancellor Renner shortly before the departure demanded that the Imperial-Royal family and their luggage be searched. Strutt refused, and Renner wanted to send a "High Commissioner." The officer of the Royal Scots replied that the Chancellor could very well send such a commissioner, but he also promised that such a commissioner would be shot, and by Strutt himself. The republican Chancellor backed down.
On the eve of the departure though, Lt.-Col. Strutt was called to Dr. Renner’s office, where the Chancellor required the Emperor to abdicate in order to be allowed to leave the country. Then comes the Royal Scots officer’s best bluff on this mission. Strutt had drafted a telegram beforehand, stating:
To Director Military Intelligence London
Austrian Government refuses permission for departure of Emperor unless he abdicates. Consequently give orders to re-establish blockade and stop all food trains entering Austria.
No more conditions were demanded. The Emperor and his family were to go Imperially. The Imperial train left for the Austro-Swiss border on March 23 with Strutt in charge and an NCO and six British Military Policemen accompanying the Imperial and Royal Family and members of what was left of the Court.
On March 24 the train arrived at the Austro-Swiss border. The Emperor issued the Feldkirch Manifesto, declaring the November 11 power renunciation null and void, and denouncing the authority of the republican government.
The old order may have lost the war, but it certainly won the Austrian departure.
Order of the British Empire
On May 30, 1919, on the occasion of His Britannic Majesty’s birthday, Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Lisle Strutt was appointed as Commander of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Later in Life
In 1920, Lt.-Col. Strutt served as High Commissioner of the Free City of Danzig.
In the spring of 1921 he returned to the Habsburg site of exile in Switzerland, and he helped the exiled Emperor-King in preparations for the spring Hungarian restoration bid. After the failure of the second Hungarian restoration bid that year, the British officer helped with communication between the Imperial-Royal couple aboard the HMS Cardiff and their children in the Helvetic Confederation. Lt.-Col. Strutt also served as messenger to the Habsburgs of an offer to let a house in Madeira.
After retiring from the military, Strutt was second-in-command of a 1922 British Everest expedition. Mountaineering continued to engage Edward Lisle Strutt. He was active in the Alpine Club, where he also served as President and editor.
He died on July 7, 1948, after also having seen the war that indeed and sadly cemented the destruction of Old Europe.
The now 95-year-old Archduke Otto, who not long ago still thought of Strutt with great respect and gratitude, was once asked if he was not full of resentment against the British for their treatment of his father, the Emperor. The Archduke replied:
But after all, there was Colonel Strutt.
Lt.-Col. Strutt did what he could for the order that the modernists had destroyed. Had Lloyd George been anything close to Lt.-Col. Strutt in character and sentiment, the old order just might have survived.
We honor the memory of Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Lisle Strutt, C.B.E., D.S.O. on this day, 60 years after his passing.