“You have the feeling you see the sense of it all.”

The most fundamental and pioneering changes made by Princess Melinda concerned the domain itself. Shortly after she had taken over its administration, she had already considered how she should preserve the important economic and cultural property for future generations – and according to each and every wish of her spouse.

She had long consultations with her brother, Professor Jószef Ottrubay, and Doctor Emil Schreiner. In 1992 she opted for the legal form of the Austrian private foundation newly established at the time. The revenue from economic operations would then be used to maintain, preserve and research the extensive cultural heritage. To counteract a possible division of the heritage in future, the princess began organising the entire possessions into three foundations.

The start was made on 11 May 1994 with the “Prince Esterházy Private Foundation of Forchtenstein Castle”. This was followed in 1995 by the “Prince Esterházy Private Foundation of Lockenhaus”, which was transferred in the same year to the brother of Prince Paul, Prince Ladislaus Esterházy, and his daughter. The operation was concluded with the “Prince Esterházy Private Foundation of Eisenstadt”, transferred to its purpose on 30 September of the same year with a resplendent ceremony. This final foundation concluded the re-organisation of the family assets. As representative head of the family, Melinda appointed her deceased husband’s nephew, Prince Anton Esterházy, in another ceremony on 11 October 1996 in the Empiresaal in Eisenstadt Palace. Prince Anton exercised this function until 2002.

At the wish of the princess, on 1 March 2001 her nephew, Doctor Stefan Ottrubay, officially assumed the office of General Director. The same year saw a reform of the structure of the assets and liabilities, new foundations were set up in place of the old. “Esterházy Betriebe GmbH” now managed the assets of three foundations, namely that of the “Esterházy Privatstiftung” (Esterházy Private Foundation), that of “F. E. Familien Privatstiftung Eisenstadt” (Family Foundation Eisenstadt) and that of the “Domänen Privatstiftung” (Domains Private Foundation). Princess Melinda always believed that people become richer, wiser, cleverer, and gain insight by being tested through experience: “You have the feeling you see the sense of it all”.

In 2002, at the age of eighty-two, Princess Melinda withdrew at her own wish from all public functions and into a restful private life. But even after her retirement Melinda sponsored culture and fulfilled herself a “long-cherished wish”; in March 2005 she started the “Princess Melinda Esterházy, Zurich” foundation, “with the goal of promoting young, hopeful talents from the region of Central Europe in the fields of the performing arts – ballet, music and theatre”.
On 27 August 2014 Princess Melinda Esterházy, née Ottrubay, died peacefully surrounded by her family in Eisenstadt. She was ninety-five years old.