Ferdinand Habsburg Would Have Been King. Instead He’s a Racecar Driver.

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Ferdinand Habsburg Would Have Been King. Instead He’s a Racecar Driver.

“I have my friends,” he said, and these friends include the owner of a natural wine bar, a painter and a puppeteer for the opera.

There is, of course, the complex reality that the most traumatic event to happen to his family — losing the empire — is what gave him something he cherishes: his freedom.

“My grandfather, he was the last crown prince — he had to grow up with his dad as emperor and his mom empress,” Mr. Habsburg said. “As a kid he had to have all the training and learn 10 languages, and it’s hard work being a royal. It’s all events and openings and hospital visits.”

“I’m so proud of my family and what they’ve done,” he said. “But I get to live a different life.”

Mr. Habsburg was born in Salzburg, Austria, to Mr. von Habsburg, a politician, and Francesca von Thyssen-Bornemisza, an art collector and curator. His parents are divorced; his father, 62, lives in Vienna and Porto, Portugal, and his mother, 64, lives in Madrid. Besides his roommate Gloria, a documentary film producer, Mr. Habsburg has one other sister: Eleonore Habsburg D’Ambrosio, 29, a jewelry designer who lives in Oxford, England, with her husband Jérôme D’Ambrosio, a former Formula E driver.

The Habsburgs — there are about 600 of them living today, he said — try to keep in touch. “We have a WhatsApp group,” Mr. Habsburg said. “I can travel anywhere in the world, and I text the group and say where I’m going and when, and there is a house I can stay at.” He added with a laugh, “It’s like a free Airbnb for us Habsburgs.”

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