May 9, 1892 – Birth of Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma, wife of Emperor Karl I of Austria, at the Villa Pianore, Tuscany (Italy)
Born as the seventeenth child of the dispossessed Robert I, Duke of Parma, and his second wife, Infanta Maria Antonia of Portugal. At the age of ten, Zita was sent to a boarding school at Zanberg in Upper Bavaria, where there was a strict regime of study and religious instruction. Brought up as devout Catholics, the Parma children regularly undertook good works for the poor. Three of Zita's sisters became nuns and, for a time, she considered following the same path. Zita and her siblings were raised to speak Italian, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and English.
Since his uncle married morganatically, Archduke Karl was under pressure to marry and Zita had a suitably royal genealogy. They had met as children but did not meet one another for almost ten years, but when they became reacquainted Karl asked for Zita’s hand. Karl and Zita were married on 21 October 1911. Karl’s great-uncle, the 81-year-old Emperor Franz Joseph, attended the wedding. The couple had eight children.
Karl of Austria became heir presumptive to the Austrian throne in 1914 after the assassination of his uncle Archduke Franz Ferdinand. In 1916, Franz Joseph I died and Karl acceded to the throne in 1916. Karl and Zita were Emperor and Empress for two years before being deposed following the end of World War I in 1918. Karl and Zita left for exile in Switzerland and later Madeira. In 1922, Karl was struck by an attack of bronchitis which rapidly worsened into pneumonia, not helped by the inadequate medical care available, Karl died. Zita wore mourning black in Karl’s memory throughout sixty-seven years of widowhood and never remarried. After her husband's death, Zita and her son Otto served as symbols of unity for the exiled dynasty.
After a memorable 90th birthday, where she was surrounded by her now vast family, Zita's strong health began to fail. On 14 March 1989, she died at the aged of 96; the last surviving child of Robert, Duke of Parma from both his marriages.