Empress Carlota of Mexico or “Emperatriz Carlota” how the Mexicans call her, had an unfortunate destiny because her husband (Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico) was executed.
The last empress of Mexico died on this day in 1927. Her name was Carlota, Charlotte in French version, or Carlota in Spanish form. She was born in 1840 at the Royal Palace of Laeken near the Belgian capital of Brussels. Her father was the first King of the Belgians, Leopold I from the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha dynasty. He was also the uncle of the famous British Queen Victoria. Charlotte, therefore, was a princess of Belgium, and her brother Leopold II inherited father’s throne as Leopold II of Belgium (he was known for later gaining the whole of Congo as a personal colonial possession).
How did a Belgian princess become an empress of Mexico? Namely, at the age of 17 she married Archduke Maximilian of Austria. He was a younger brother of the well-known Austro-Hungarian Emperor Francis Joseph I. In 1864, Maximilian was appointed Emperor of Mexico. This was done at the initiative of Napoleon III of France – who made a military intervention in Mexico in the attempt to create some sort of Catholic empire as a counterbalance to mainly Protestant USA to the north.
All in all, Charlotte became the Empress of Mexico. She took the Spanish form of her name – Carlota. Together with her husband Maximilian, she was crowned in a cathedral in Mexico City, which became the capital of the Mexican Empire. They moved into the Castillo de Chapultepec castle on the edge of Mexico City. Interestingly, that castle is the only imperial residence in the whole area of North America.
However, Napoleon III of France decided to quickly withdraw from the Mexican adventure, so Maximilian and his wife were left stranded. Mexican Republicans captured Maximilian and executed him by firing squad. Empress Carlota fled to Europe and lived as a widow, first at Miramar Castle near Trieste and then at the Castle of Bouchout in her native Belgium, where she died. She never returned to Mexico.