Crown Prince Rudolf

Crown Prince Rudolf was born on the 21st August 1858 in Laxenburg and died on the 30th January 1889 in Mayerling,

Rudolf was Archduke of Austria and heir-apparent to the thrones of Austria, Bohemia and Hungary.

His parents were Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth.

Rudolf began his education at a very early age and was trained to become the future heir to the throne. Rudolf's relationship with his father was a difficult one. Rudolf had very liberal views and was therefore never allowed to be involved in state affairs.

Rudolf and Stephanie

On the 10th May 1881, Rudolf married Stephanie of Belgium at the Augustine’s Church in Vienna. Their only child was the named Elisabeth and was born on the 2nd September 1883. Rudolf and Stephanie had a difficult marriage and as years passed by Rudolf went his own way and tended to search for other female companionship and soon began his search for the joys of life free from his Imperial obligations.

In 1887, Rudolf purchased and adapted a hunting lodge near to Mayerling.

In November 1888, the Archduke met the young Countess Mary Vetsera and the affair began. Mary soon focused all her attention on the Rudolf and the affair was seen as being foolish and compromising for the Imperial family.

The hunting Lodge in Mayerling, Lower Austria


Crown Prince Rudolf and his mistress Countess Mary Vetsera were found dead in the Imperial hunting lodge at Mayerling early on the morning of the 30th January 1889.

Crown Prince Rudolf on his deathbed

Emperor Franz Joseph did everything he could to keep the real circumstances behind the tragedy of Mayerling secret, especially the involvement of Mary Vetsera. This, together with the cause of death, was a disaster for the very catholic Imperial court. To confess that the heir to the throne had not only committed suicide but also murdered Mary Vetsera, would have brought unbearable shame on the crown. Slowly, snippets of information leaked out and partially true versions of the tragic death of the heir to the throne were made available to the public.


Baroness Marie Alexandrine von Vetsera
Mary Vetsera was born on the 19th March 1871
and died In Mayerling on the 30th January 1889.

Mary Vetsera’s name was kept secret for decades. Decades have passed and little is known for certain of the happenings that took place in the small hunting lodge and even less of the events, which eventually had led to the ‘Drama of Mayerling’, are known.

More than thirty versions of the tragedy evolved - suicide, jealousy, political or family disharmony, murder, anarchism and even high treason due to political differences and diverging points of view between the old conservative Franz Joseph and his liberal son Rudolf are cited.

Mary's body was smuggled out of Mayerling in the middle of the night and secretly buried in the village cemetery at Heiligenkreuz.

After the tragedy of Mayerling, the Emperor had the hunting lodge in Mayerling converted into a convent.