María Josepha Sophia de Iturbide was born on 29 February 1872 in Mikosdpuszta, Austria-Hungary as the eldest of three daughters of Prince Salvador de Iturbide and Baroness Gizella Maria Terezia Mikos de Tarrõdhàza. Her father was a grandson of Emperor Agustín I of Mexico.
Agustín was the first Emperor of Mexico between 1822 and 1823 after the Mexican War of Independence. He was forced to abdicate, and he was exiled to Italy with his wife Ana María Huarte and their children. He returned to Mexico on 14 July 1824 with his pregnant wife and two of their children, and he was promptly arrested. He was executed by firing squad on 19 July 1824. His wife and their children were eventually allowed to leave, and they settled in the United States, where she gave birth to their tenth child.
The Crown of Mexico was offered to Archduke Maximilian of Austria in 1864, and he took up the crown as Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico. However, he and his wife Charlotte of Belgium had no children together, and so he adopted Agustín de Iturbide y Green and his cousin Salvador de Iturbide y de Marzán, both grandsons of Agustín de Iturbide. Once more, an Emperor of Mexico ended up in front of a firing squad, and the monarchy was abolished in 1867.
However, Emperor Agustín’s line continued via male-preference primogeniture to María Josepha who became the Head of the Imperial House of Mexico in 1925 upon the childless death of Agustín de Iturbide y Green as her father had died in 1895 at the age of 45.
María Josepha, though born in Hungary, spent the better of her youth in Venice where she was known for her modesty and piety. In 1908, she married Baron Johann Tunkl von Aschbrunn und Hohenstadt with whom she had two daughters: Baroness Maria Anna (born 4 August 1909) and Baroness Maria Gizela (born 2 October 1912). She was widowed in 1915, and she remarried to Charles de Carriere on 14 April 1923.
María Josepha and her husband were arrested and interned by the Romanian Communist government in 1948 as they were considered to be enemies of the people. They both died under suspicious circumstances sometime in November 1949 in a prison camp in Deva, Romania.
According to her last will – and in agreement with her two daughters – her claim to the Mexican throne passed to Maria Gizela’s son, Count Maximiliano Gustav Albrecht Richard Agustin von Goetzen Iturbide. He is still alive today.