Despite his relatively-low rank Count August Maria Rudolf Emanuel Franz von Bellegarde was a riding companion of Sisi’s. He served the imperial Court in Vienna for many years.
The son of Count Franz von Bellegarde and Countess Rudolphine Karoline Countess von Wchintz und Tettau, he was related to the powerful Kinsky family through his mother. Count Franz was a close friend of and aide-de-camp general to Emperor Franz Josef and his sister Pauline was Sisi’s lady-in-waiting and then chosen to be her chatelaine.
The Bellegarde family was first mentioned in documents in 1388 and spread across Europe. In 1540 they had possessions in the Spanish Netherlands, Janus de Bellegarde was made a Marchese by the Duke of Savoy in 1682 and Heinrich Count de Bellegarde was an Austrian field marshal and viceroy of Lombardy – Venetia.
In Vienna they lived in the Palais Bellegarde in Praterstrasse 17 in Leopoldstadt. The Bellegarde family also had a castle and lands in Velke Heraltice, which is in the north of the Czech Republic.
Count August Bellegarde was born in Hacking, then a pleasant village near the Vienna Woods. By the age of 18 he was serving as a lieutenant-general in the Austrian army. Count August married twice. His first wife Henriette Larisch von Moennich died in 1892, having given birth to two daughters. Five years later he married Marie Karoline Ernestine Judith Oettingen-Oettingen und Oettingen-Wallerstein (1874 – 1960). They had five children.
Count August Bellegarde travelled from the United States to Plymouth in order to join Empress Elisabeth of Austria on the Isle of Wight in 1874. Count Bellegarde had to stay at the Royal Hotel in Ventnor as there would have been insufficient room with Sisi at nearby Steephill Castle.
Count August was made Chief Master of the Imperial Kitchens and in 1903 was made an Honorary Knight Commander by King Edward VII. His brother Franz replaced Count Bombelles in Crown Princess Stephanie’s household after the suicide of Crown Prince Rupert.