Prince Franz Joseph of Austria was born on August 18, 1830 in the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna. His parents were Archduke Franz Karl of Austria and Princess Sophie of Bavaria. From the moment of his birth he was thrust into the limelight as a possible successor to his uncle. king Franz I, as king of Austria. This was because his uncle Ferdinand was considered feeble minded and mentally retarded, and his own father, Franz Karl, was a quiet and unambitious man who was thought ill suited to the battling nature of european politics. Franz Joseph also had the support of the Austrian chancellor, Klemens von Metternich, who thought he could dominate the infant king and assert Austria's position on the european stage.
Metternich and Princess Sophie increasingly tried to endoctrinate the infant prince, tutoring him personally on many occasions. In early 1833 the infant prince was made an honorary colonel in the Vienna Guard regiment, and 6 months later he was granted a duchy.