The Archduke of Austria's Michigan Grave
Where else would you expect to find the gravesite of European royalty than the windswept dunes of rural Northern Michigan?
His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Stefan of Austria, Prince of Hungary, Bohemia and Tuscany, is buried beside his wife, Mary Jerrine Soper, in the quaint St. Wenceslaus Cemetery in remote Northern Michigan.
The church and adjoining cemetery are situated almost equidistant between Suttons Bay, Omena, Northport, and Leland, and this region along Grand Traverse Bay contains a fairly sizable Bohemian population from central Europe. How a member of Austrian royalty came to be buried in a Northern Michigan Bohemian cemetery is an interesting story.
Archduke Stefan was born August 15, 1932, in the suburban community of Modling, Vienna. He was the eldest son of Archduke Anton of Austria and Princess Ileana of Romania. The family moved a number of times during his youth, including to Romania in 1942 in the midst of World War II. There, they lived for a period in Bran Castle, made famous by its similarities to Count Dracula’s castle. In 1947, the family fled the Communist takeover of Romania, living for a time in both Switzerland and Argentina before ending up in the United States.
Archduke Stefan graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), came to Michigan to work for General Motors, and in 1961 became a citizen of the United States. He passed away on November 12, 1998, and was buried in this Saint Wenceslaus Cemetery in Leelanau County, Michigan.
While visiting this windswept cemetery, it is hard to imagine the regal lifestyle Archduke Stefan must have been born into and accustomed to in his youth. But, it is also inspirational to know that he was able to flee the political upheaval in postwar Europe and quietly live the balance of his life as a citizen of the United States.
Know Before You Go
The cemetery is located directly east of the church. Off-street parking is available. The archduke's gravesite is located near the parking area. Please honor and respect the cemetery and its inhabitants while visiting.
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