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Sophie wrote to Franz Ferdinand during his convalescence from tuberculosis on the island of Lošinj in the Adriatic. Deeply in love, Franz Ferdinand refused to consider marrying anyone else.Finally, in 1899, Emperor Franz Joseph agreed to permit Franz Ferdinand to marry Sophie, on condition that the marriage would be morganatic and that their descendants would not have succession rights to the throne.One of Sophie's direct ancestors was Albert IV, Count of Habsburg; she was descended from Elisabeth of Habsburg, a sister of King Rudolf I of Germany. Sophie was a lady-in-waiting to Archduchess Isabella, wife of Archduke Friedrich, Duke of Teschen.

Franz Ferdinand thus became one of the wealthiest men in Austria.

Sophie would not share her husband's rank, title, precedence, or privileges; as such, she would not normally appear in public beside him.

She would not be allowed to ride in the royal carriage or sit in the royal box in theaters.

He exerted influence on the armed forces even when he did not hold a specific command through a military chancery that produced and received documents and papers on military affairs.

This was headed by Alexander Brosch von Aarenau and eventually employed a staff of sixteen.

Baron Margutti, Francis Joseph's aide-de-camp, was told by Francis Ferdinand in 1895 and--with a remarkable consistency in view of the changes that took place in the intervening years--again in 1913, that the introduction of the dual system in 1867 had been disastrous and that, when he ascended the throne, he intended to re-establish strong central government: this objective, he believed, could be attained only by the simultaneous granting of far-reaching administrative autonomy to all the nationalities of the monarchy.