Emperor Franz Joseph is the emperor of Austria-Hungary and the great-uncle of Aleksandar of Hohenberg. He was the uncle of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who, before his death, was the emperor's heir. Count Volger does not say whether he discovers who Franz Joseph picks as heir after Franz Ferdinand's death, although he mentions that he wants to try to find this information in a newspaper.
Franz Joseph and Franz Ferdinand disagreed about Franz Ferdinand's choice of Sophie Chotek as his wife. Franz Joseph did not have much to do with Alek, and always looked down on him because his mother was not a Hapsburg. Volger speculates that Franz Joseph was not the one who ordered the archduke's death, but that he knew about it and allowed the Germans to poison Alek's parents and chase Alek in their walkers.
Volger reminds Alek that Franz Joseph is eighty three and not expected to live long when they are in the castle in Switzerland. In real life, Franz Joseph died in 1916, and the Austro-Hungarian empire collapsed soon afterward.
- Franz Joseph I of Austria on Wikipedia