To paraphrase what Pierre Berton said of Sam Steele, some men are fortunate in the accident of their names, but few are more furtunate than Edward Lisle Strutt. That marvellous surname, rendered both blunt and familiar – suggestive of an unyielding and pontificating aristocrat – was utterly appropriate to the man who bore it. The two names Edward Strutt fitted him as neatly as his puttees; in tandem they sing like a well-tempered sword whirling in battle, and the sound they make is the sound of command – a born leader: bold, resolute, keen-eyed and barrel-chested, all the cliches apply, "erect as a pine tree and limber as a cat".
The Great War
Strutt was born the same year as Churchill as a grandson of the first Baron Belper – after whom he was named – and a future cousin of the third Baron Belper. He was a devout partisan of the Old European Order. Lt.-Col. Edward Lisle Strutt fought in the Boer War between 1900 and 1902, for which he was decorated with Queen's Medal and King's Medal, and where he was mentioned in despatches. He fought in the First World War between 1914 and 1919, where he was wounded and mentioned in despatches four times. He gained the rank of Temporary-Lieutenant and GSO(1) in 1916. He was decorated with the Companion, Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.) in 1918. He was decorated with the Officer, Legion of Honour. He was decorated with the Croix de Guerre (French). He was decorated with the Chevalier, Order of Romania. He was decorated with the Chevalier, Order of Leopold of Belgium. He was decorated with the Croix de Guerre (Belgian). He was invested as a Commander, Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.) in 1919. He gained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the service of the Royal Scots. He held the office of Allied High Commissioner in Danzig in 1920. In 1922 he was the second in charge of the Everest Expedition. He died on 7 July 1948 at age 74, sixty years ago today, without issue.
The Situation in Austria
The Great War had ended. The democratic republican age was dawning. The monarchical age was setting. Whilst the latter had been challenged for quite some time, the war had completely destroyed the monarchical order’s immune system. This was with “good” help from Woodrow Wilson’s crusade to make the world safe for democracy, but this crusade was of course not the only contributing factor.
The Austrian Emperor had renounced power on November 11, 1918, but without abdicating. His Imperial and Royal Majesty signed a similar declaration as King of Hungary two days later. He had gone with his family into internal exile at Eckartsau – at the hunting lodge there.
That summer the Eastern Emperor and his family had suffered the tragedy at Yekaterinburg. At the Britannic Court in London, King George V reproached himself for what had been allowed to happen to the Russian Imperial Family. There was fear that a similar fate was about to overtake the Western Emperor and his family. With the armed radicals running around in Austria at the time, this was no unfounded fear.
Also, Emperor Charles was remembered as the Emperor who had sought peace and the Archduke who represented the old Emperor Francis Joseph at His Britannic Majesty's own coronation. This indeed gave memories of an old peaceful order that now brutally had been destructed.
At the personal initiative of His Britannic Majesty, the Austro-Hungarian Imperial-Royal Family is put under British protection.
The Background and Sentiment of Strutt
Lieutenant-Colonel Strutt was a Catholic, like the Emperor he was sent to protect. He was educated in Windsor and at Oxford, and in Innsbruck, Austria. In addition to his native English, the Lt.-Col. was fluent in German and French.
Strutt was, as Gordon Brook-Shepherd noted, a British officer who served the double eagle and the Habsburg black and yellow colors with a fervor second only to the loyalty to His Britannic Majesty.
In addition to having served in the Great War, he did service in the Boer War (1900-1902), for which he was also honored and decorated.
Edward Lisle Strutt was a partisan of the Old European Order. He was a symbol of personal powers of a monarch, as he was sent on the monarch’s personal initiative. He was a symbol of solidarity between monarchs. Strutt was on the fringe related to the Habsburgs. On arrival at the hunting lodge in Eckartsau, he found a photo of the late Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who was assassinated in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, and himself.
As a grandson of the first Lord Belper, Lt.-Col. Strutt was a British aristocrat. The Belper motto was and is Propositi tenax (‘Firm of purpose’). There was indeed purpose with the Lt.-Col.
Strutt was to have a life-long passionate devotion for the Habsburg family. He was a life-long friend of the Archduke Otto.
On Mission in Austria
A few officers preceded Lt.-Col. Strutt in this protection mission. Strutt arrived at Eckartsau on February 27, 1919.
On March 17, Strutt received advice from the War Office in London that the Emperor should depart Austria for Switzerland, without any guarantees for the journey.
The new republican government was talking about abdication, exile, and internment.
On March 20, as an officer of the Royal Scots on the territory of a defeated ex-enemy, Lt.-Col. Strutt walks into the office of the republican government’s Chancellor, Dr. Karl Renner, and demands: “Please stand up in future when I enter your room!” Renner immediately jumped to his feet. Not much later he ordered an Imperial train to be assembled. The Emperor was to leave as, yes, Emperor!
Chancellor Renner shortly before the departure demanded that the Imperial-Royal family and their luggage be searched. Strutt refused, and Renner wanted to send a “High Commissioner.” The officer of the Royal Scots replied that the Chancellor could very well send such a commissioner, but he also promised that such a commissioner would be shot, and by Strutt himself. The republican Chancellor backed down.
On the eve of the departure though, Lt.-Col. Strutt was called to Dr. Renner’s office, where the Chancellor required the Emperor to abdicate in order to be allowed to leave the country. Then comes the Royal Scots officer’s best bluff on this mission. Strutt had drafted a telegram beforehand, stating:
To Director Military Intelligence LondonNo more conditions were demanded. The Emperor and his family were to go Imperially. The Imperial train left for the Austro-Swiss border on March 23 with Strutt in charge and an NCO and six British Military Policemen accompanying the Imperial and Royal Family and members of what was left of the Court.
Austrian Government refuses permission for departure of Emperor unless he abdicates. Consequently give orders to re-establish blockade and stop all food trains entering Austria.
On March 24 the train arrived at the Austro-Swiss border. The Emperor issued the Feldkirch Manifesto, declaring the November 11 power renunciation null and void, and denouncing the authority of the republican government.
The old order may have lost the war, but it certainly won the Austrian departure.
Order of the British Empire
On May 30, 1919, on the occasion of His Britannic Majesty’s birthday, Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Lisle Strutt was appointed as Commander of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Later in Life
In 1920, Lt.-Col. Strutt served as High Commissioner of the Free City of Danzig.
In the spring of 1921 he returned to the Habsburg site of exile in Switzerland, and he helped the exiled Emperor-King in preparations for the spring Hungarian restoration bid. After the failure of the second Hungarian restoration bid that year, the British officer helped with communication between the Imperial-Royal couple aboard the HMS Cardiff and their children in the Helvetic Confederation. Lt.-Col. Strutt also served as messenger to the Habsburgs of an offer to let a house in Madeira.
After retiring from the military, Strutt was second-in-command of a 1922 British Everest expedition. Mountaineering continued to engage Edward Lisle Strutt. He was active in the Alpine Club, where he also served as President and editor.
He died on July 7, 1948, after also having seen the war that indeed and sadly cemented the destruction of Old Europe.
The now 95 year old Archduke Otto, who not long ago still thought of Strutt with great respect and gratitude, was once asked if he was not full of resentment against the British for their treatment of his father, the Emperor. The Archduke replied:
But after all, there was Colonel Strutt.Lieutenant-Colonel Strutt most definitely serves as a hero for those on the Allied side who did not and do not second the crusade against, or the dismantling of, the Old European Order. Our hero is a shining example that one did not need be a new order crusader to serve on the Allied side.
Lt.-Col. Strutt was loyal to his Sovereign, and he did what he could for the order that the modernists had destroyed. Had Lloyd George been anything close to Lt.-Col. Strutt in character and sentiment, the old order just might have survived.
We salute the memory of Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Lisle Strutt, C.B.E., D.S.O. on this day, 60 years after his passing.
Elsewhere: LewRockwell.com, Wilson Revolution Unplugged