Karl, 8th Prince Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau

Prince Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau
Born (1858-11-29)29 November 1858
Vienna, Austrian Empire
Died 11 December 1919(1919-12-11) (aged 61)
Spouse Countess Elisabeth Wolff-Metternich zur Gracht
Full name
Karl Rudolf Ferdinand Andreas
House House of Kinsky
Father Ferdinand Bonaventura, 7th Prince Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau
Mother Princess Maria of Liechtenstein

Karl, 8th Prince Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau (German: Karl Rudolf Ferdinand Andreas Fürst Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau; 29 November 1858  11 December 1919) was the 8th Prince Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau.

Early life

Karl was born in Vienna, the capital of the Austrian Empire, as the son of Ferdinand Bonaventura, 7th Prince Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau (18341904), the head of the princely line of the House of Kinsky, and Princess Marie of Liechtenstein (18351905).

Karl was born into the family's great equine tradition and inherited a love of horses. A servant, the Kinsky's master of the horse, Roland Reynolds, who had two great loves, England and the Grand National steeplechase, was to prove a great influence on Karl, passing on his passions to the young Count.

Karl first visited England as part of the retinue of Empress Elisabeth of Austria in the late 1870s. The Empress arranged to visit Liverpool and see the famous steeplechase which provided Kinsky with his first opportunity to witness the event. Later, in 1883, he won the Grand National on his own horse, from the family's own Kinsky breed, the mare Zoedone.


Karl married on 7 January 1895 in Herdringen, Arnsberg, to Countess Elisabeth Wolff-Metternich zur Gracht (1874–1909). They had no children.


Karl achieved his two greatest British goals in rapid succession. First, he was made Austro-Hungarian ambassador to Britain; and second, he rode his own horse, Zoedone, to win the 1883 Grand National. He was distraught when Zoedone was poisoned on the race day two years later.

Relationship with Jennie Jerome

Karl was involved in an affair with Lady Randolph Churchill, wife of Lord Randolph Churchill and the American-born mother of Sir Winston Churchill. She was four years his senior, a famous socialite, and one of the most beautiful women of the time, and he was completely infatuated by her. Lady Randolph Churchill has been described as being a captivating woman, whose looks and demeanor made her almost irresistible. She was powerful, having social and romantic contacts that could make or break anyone wishing to climb in social status in the Britain of the time.

She later claimed that she would not have spent the time that she did with Kinsky were it not for the unfounded rumours of an affair being spread by society gossips, and her desire to spend time with him was simply for spite. However, accounts from the time do indicate that the two were involved romantically, and the only motivation for quelling the rumours was that this affair was a semi-secret one.

In this period, among the upper classes, having affairs was not something unusual (Mrs. Patrick Campbell, a famous actress of the day, said, "One is free to do as one pleases, as long as one doesn't do it in the street and frighten the horses" [paraphrase]), and in most cases Jennie made no attempts to hide her liaisons. Partners in her affairs were well-connected and powerful men including Edward VII. She had these affairs with the full knowledge of her first husband, and they may even have assisted in his political and social standing and in his career. Ironically, at the time of Kinsky's affair with Jennie Churchill, she likely wielded more power behind the scenes than did Kinsky, and it would have been he who would have benefited more from the affair. It should also be noted that while she certainly had friendships with many powerful men, it is unknown whether every relationship was sexual.

World War I and after

Karl remained in England until 1914 when Austria-Hungary went to war with Britain. Keen to do his duty, but unwilling to fight the country he regarded as his second home, Kinsky volunteered to fight on the dreaded Russian front. He survived but returned to a broken homeland and the knowledge that it was unlikely he would ever be welcome in England again. A broken man, Karl died in 1919.


Notes and sources

Karl, 8th Prince Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau
Born: 29 November 1858 Died: 11 December 1919
Titles of nobility
Preceded by
Ferdinand Bonaventura
Prince Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau
2 January 1904 – 3 April 1919
Succeeded by
Republic declared
Titles in pretence
Loss of title
Prince Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau
3 April 1919 – 11 December 1919
Reason for succession failure:
Austrian nobility titles abolished
Succeeded by
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