29 August 2010

These Two Weeks in Princesses

Weddings and funerals and memorials. These past two weeks have been filled with joyous and somber gatherings, but some princesses still managed to snatch some vacation time.


Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko bow as they offer prayers before an altar during a memorial service for those who died in World War Two during a ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of Japan's surrender in the war at Budokan Hall in Tokyo August 15, 2010.  REUTERS/Toru Hanai (JAPAN - Tags: ANNIVERSARY POLITICS ROYALS)

Empress Michiko and Emperoro Akihito of Japan attended a memorial ceremony honoring those who died in World War II on the 65th anniversary of World War II. The emperor's father, Hirohito, was a young emperor during the war and was still considered to be a living god. The imperial family is still highly honored but not "revered" in the same way.


Jordan's King Abdullah laughs with his wife Queen Rania as they watch the Royal Military Tattoo at Edinburgh castle, Scotland August 18, 2010. The royal couple's visit to the Tattoo, which runs for three weeks in August on Edinburgh Castle's esplanade and is celebrating its diamond anniversary having first been staged in 1950, marks the first occasion a sovereign from the Middle East has attended. REUTERS/David Moir (BRITAIN - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT ROYALS IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Do you like my hat? Oh yes, Your Majesty! King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan were all giggles during a visit to Scotland for the 50th anniversary of the Royal Military Tattoo. Living in the Middle East, the king and queen are used to seeing men in longer "skirts" and probably were amused by all the knobby knees under those kilts.


OREBRO, SWEDEN - AUGUST 21: King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Queen Silvia of Sweden, Princess Victoria of Sweden, Prince Daniel of Sweden, Prince Carl Philip of Sweden and Princess Madeleine of Sweden attends the bicentennial anniversary of the Parliament session of 1810 in Orebro at Orebro Castle on August 21, 2010 in Orebro, Sweden. (Photo by Torsten Laursen/Getty Images)

Having returned from their honeymoon and dodged bribery accusations for getting it paid for by a rich businessman, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel (in the center) joined King Carl Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine for the bicentennial celebration of Sweden's parliament. Carl Philip has been taking heat for dating a reality star who is apparently allergic to wearing clothes and Princess Madeleine has been spending more and more time in the U.S. since her ex-fiancee allegedly cheated on her.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 21: Princess Mary of Denmark arrives at her friend and bridesmaid, Amber Petty's 40th birthday celebration at The Promethian on August 21, 2010 in Adelaide, Australia. Princess Mary is in Adelaide visiting longtime friend and bridesmaid Amber Petty, who's celebrating her 40th birthday. She also spent time with family and friends in Hobart, who she hasn't seen since her last Tasmanian visit in 2008. (Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)

On a "solo" holiday Down Under, Australian-born Crown Princess Mary of Denmark is still showing no sign that she is actually a "trio" at the moment since she is due to deliver twins in about five months. She keeps tricking the watching photographers by wearing loose blouses but this ensemble and the skinny jeans she's been wearing around Australia show no sign of baby bumps.


Pauline Ducruet, the daughter of Princess Stephanie of Monaco competes in the youth women's 3m springboard preliminary round at the Youth Olympic Games 2010 in Singapore on August 23, 2010. Pauline qualified for the final round to be held on August 23. Photo by Frederic Nebinger/ABACAPRESS.COM Photo via Newscom

Pauline Ducruet flipped out in Singapore where she was competing in the 2010 Youth Olympics. The 16-year-old daughter of Princess Stephanie of Monaco is a hopeful for the 2012 London Olympics.


DUNGENESS, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24: Princess Beatrice watches as Richard Branson prepares to Kite Surf across the English Channel on August 24, 2010 in Dungeness, England. Richard Branson is making the attempt to become the oldest person to Kite-surf across the English Channel to celebrate his 60th birthday. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Princess Beatrice of York got a bit windswept on the English coast where she was watching billionaire Richard Branson unsuccessfully attempt to kite-surf across the English Channel for his 60th birthday. Bea is dating Branson protege Dave Clark.
SPETSES, GREECE - AUGUST 24: (L-R) I aki Urdangarin, Infanta Cristina, Infanta Elena of Spain, Crown Princess Letizia of Spain and Crown Prince Felipe attend a pre-wedding reception at the Poseidon Hotel on August 24, 2010 in Spetses, Greece.The small greek Island, three hours from Athens, is gearing up for the Royal Wedding of Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Tatiana Blatnik on Wednesday. Royals from all over Europe and the world are expected to attend the ceremony.Prince Nikolaos is the second son of King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie while Tatiana is an events planner for Diane Von Furstenburg in London. Many of the VIP guests are expected to stay in the Poseidon Hotel in the town centre. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

The entire Spanish royal family invaded Greece for the wedding celebrations of Prince Nikolaos, whose father King Constantine II is the brother of Queen Sofia of Greece. Apparently, however, Infanta Cristina did not get the notice that they were all supposed to wear white pants to the party! She looks lovely nevertheless standing next to her handsome husband Inaki, sister Elena, sister-in-law Letizia and brother Felipe.


SPETSES, GREECE - AUGUST 25: Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Princess Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark (Tatiana Blatnik) kiss after getting married at the Cathedral of Ayios Nikolaos (St. Nicholas) on August 25, 2010 in Spetses, Greece. Representatives from Europe s royal families will join the many guests who have travelled to the island to attend the wedding of Prince Nikolaos of Greece, the second son of King Constantine of Greece and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece and Tatiana Blatnik an events planner for Diane Von Furstenburg in London. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

A flower-draped carriage was just one fantasy moment for Europe's new fairytale princess and her Prince Charming, as the 29-year-old Tatiana Blatnik married 40-year-old Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark on a lovely Greek island surrounded by friends and family who just happen to include most of the crowned heads of Europe.


HELSINGBORG, SWEDEN - AUGUST 26: Princess Victoria of Sweden and Prince Haakon of Norway commemorate Folke Bernadotte's lifesaving 'White Buses' mission at Ramlosa Brunnspark on August 26, 2010 in Helsingborg, Sweden (Photo by Torsten Laursen/Getty Images)

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden was a vision in strawberry pink as she and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway led the 65th anniversary commemoration of their common cousin Folke Bernadotte's "White Buses" mission, which rescued more than 30,000 people from German concentration camps.


The King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia at the opening ceremony for the Chinese terracotta army at East Asian Museum and the most recent archaeological findings will be exhibited in Stockholm during the fall of 2010. The exhibition will be unique since it will be displayed in a spectacular environment and feature several new unique findings from other similar gravesite. This is the second time for the Terracotta soldiers to visit Sweden. The first visit took place in 1984. Photo by Lars Hoglund/Stella Pictures/ABACAPRESS.COM Photo via Newscom

You'll never get this soldier to blink! King Carl Gustav and Queen Silvia of Sweden came face-to-face with some Chinese warriors who have been on sentry duty since the death of the first Chinese emperor. No two of the 8000 terracotta soldiers are the same. They were all part of a huge mausoleum still being excavated in China.

Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (L) walks with HMS Astute's Commanding Officer Andy Coles as they arrive for the commissioning ceremony of the Royal Navy submarine HMS Astute at the Clyde Naval Base near Glasgow, Scotland August 27, 2010.  REUTERS/David Moir   (BRITAIN - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT MILITARY SOCIETY PROFILE)

Meanwhile, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall was looking very "queenly" in this smart cream ensemble: Giant feathery hat? Check. Large brooch? Check. Gloves? Check. Handbag with no money in it? Check. Sensible shoes? Check.


Crown Prince Haakon with his children Princess Ingrid Alexandra, Prince Sverre Magnus and Mette's sonMarius attends the Anniversary screening of the Norwegian movie masterpiece Flaaklypa at Klingenberg Cinema in Oslo, Norway, on August 28, 2010. Photo by Glenn Svendsen/Stella Pictures/ABACAPRESS.COM Photo via Newscom

A day out with dad. Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway slipped out to the movies with dad, Crown Prince Haakon, and her brothers Marius and Sverre Magnus on Saturday.

Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife Princess Maxima, arrive at the Santa Maria della Steccata church for the burial of Duke Carlos Hugo of Bourbon-Parma in Parma August 28, 2010. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo(ITALY - Tags: ROYALS OBITUARY)

Things were not as cheerful in sunny Parma, as Crown Prince Willem Alexander and Crown Princess Maxima joined the mourners for the funeral of Prince Carlos Hugo of Bourbon-Parma, who died at the age of 80. One of many pretenders to the French throne, Carlos Hugo was married to Willem Alexander's aunt, Princes Irene of the Netherlands for 17 years before they divorced. Irene had to elope with the prince and give up her claim to the Dutch throne because of her groom's Catholicism and his controversial claim to the French throne. Despite that controversy and the divorce, his body laid in state at The Hague in the Netherlands before being transported to Italy for internment.

14 August 2010

Children in the Wedding

Amidst the pageantry of a royal wedding, a small group of children almost always takes center stage after the bride and groom. This troupe of tiny attendants takes the place of adult bridesmaids and groomsmen. For more about this tradition, view my guest blog at Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel Blog.

Here's a look at children at royal weddings from the past.


Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden included several of her royal godchildren and young relatives in her Stockholm wedding. The boys were dressed in sailor suits while the girls's dresses reflected the simple, clean lines of Victoria's gown. The youngsters included(from left to right) were Prince Christian of Denmark, Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway, her cousins Leopold Sommerlath and Ian de Geer, the groom's nieces Vera and Hedwig Blom, and Princess Catharina Amalia of the Netherlands, along with three other girls.


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When the Dutch Queen's nephew Prince Pieter Christian married Anita van Eijk, the little ones in their party were dressed in pale yellow with light green trim. The girls were the classic smocked dress of generations of little girls, but the ruffles on the boys' shirts echoed a more distant past.


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Claire Coombs decided to have only three girls and no boys at her marriage to Prince Laurent, youngest son of the King of Belgium. The lovely lasses were simple white dresses with pale sashes and wreathes of flowers on their heads. They were (from left) family friend Clothilde de Meulenaere, Claire's niece Emma Grant and Prince Laurent's niece Princess Luisa Maria.


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Most people still think of the wedding of Charles Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer when they think of royal weddings, even thought it was nearly 30 years ago. Charles' brothers, Prince Andrew in his naval uniform and Prince Edward in a gray morning suit acted as his 'supporters.' The younger boys, in suits inspired by military uniforms, were blonde-haired royal cousin Lord Nicholas Windsor and friend of the family Edward van Cutsem. The girls ranged from four-year-old Clementine Hambro, a great-granddaughter of Winston Churchill to 16-year-old royal cousin Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, daughter of Princess Margaret. The other girls were family friends Catherine Cameron and Sarah Jane Gaselee as well as the now famous designer India Hicks, a cousin of the prince on his father's side. The girls' puffy dresses in ivory satin were designed by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel to match Diana's iconic fairytale princess gown.


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At Princess Anne's first wedding, she had just two attendants. Her baby brother, Prince Edward, wore a traditional kilt while her little cousin, Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, wore a dress in a similar medieval style as hers with a Juliette cap.


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Princess Margaret chose her niece Princess Anne as her chief bridesmaid. Anne, then 10 years old, is standing on the bride's right. All eight young bridesmaids wore long white dresses with elaborate floral headbands.


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Princess (now Queen) Elizabeth selected more mature bridesmaids when she married the Duke of Edinburgh. Among them was her beautiful 16-year-old sister Princess Margaret and the youngest bridesmaid was 10-year-old Princess Alexandra of Kent. The two kilt-clad pageboys were royal cousins Prince William of Gloucester and Prince Michael of Kent, both about five years old.


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Jumping back a couple of generations to the wedding of the Elizabeth and Margaret's grandparents, the future King George V and Queen Mary, the 10 young bridesmaids were all princesses--sisters and cousins of the groom. They included the future Queen Maud of Norway (standing on the far right) and the Duke of Edinburgh's mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg (seated on the far left).

13 August 2010

This Week in Princesses

Many princesses were still scarce as their summer vacations continued, but a few did manage to make appearances both public and private in view of the cameras.

AUGUST 7, 2010

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain attending the 29th Copa del Rey Mapfre Audi Sailing Cup Awards Celebration at Ses Voltes Cultural Center in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on August 7, 2010. Photo by Almagro/ABACAPRESS.COM Photo via Newscom

Queen Sofia of Spain, who spent all of last week at the Copa del Rey sailing competition, wrapped up the event by helping the Rey, King Juan Carlos, present the prizes on Saturday.

Britain's Prince Charles steps over a rope as he walks in the main arena during the Mey Highland Games in Caithness, northern Scotland August 7, 2010. Prince Charles, who holds the title of 'Chieftain' for the games, is attending the annual event which takes place near to the Castle of Mey, official home of the Queen Mother in Caithness. REUTERS/David Moir (BRITAIN - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT ROYALS)

Alright, Prince Charles is not a princes, but you must admit he wore a daring hemline at the Mey Highland Games in Scotland.

AUGUST 8, 2010

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, accompanied by Princess Letizia greet US first Lady Michelle Obama and her daughter Sasha, at Maribel's palace in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on August 08, 2010. Photo by Almagro/ABACAPRESS.COM Photo via Newscom

Three queens (and one King) of style were pictured together when U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama spent some time with KKIng Juan Carlos, Queen Sofia and Princess Letizia during her girls-only Spanish vacation with daughter Sasha and an old friend. The visit sparked some controversy for being too expensive and glitzy for the president's wife until it was revealed that she had agreed to accompany her friend because she couldn't be there when her friend's father died early this year. Who can resist the adorable Sasha?

AUGUST 10, 2010

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The always colorful Queen Margrethe II took a little boat ride with her pregnant daughter-in-law, Crown Princess Mary. The expected twins will be grandchild number six and seven for the queen and her husband, Prince Henrik.

AUGUST 12, 2010

H.M. Queen Sof a of Spain in company of her two daughters, Elena and Cristina and husband Inaki Urdangarin, walking along the streets of Palma with grandsons in Palma de Mallorca, Spain on August 12, 2010. They visited some shops and ate ice creams ... surrounded by a big crowd of local people and tourists who were overstocking the streets! Photo by Almagro/ABACAPRESS.COM Photo via Newscom

If you were out shopping in Palma de Mallorca, you might have noticed a large family group visiting the shops and snacking on ice cream. Queen Sofia of Spain took her daughters, Infantas Elena (seen here) and Cristina and their kids out for the day. Sofia's two older granddaughters were with them: Elena's dark-haired Victoria Federica and Cristina's blonde-haired Irene.

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark attending the Copenhagen International Fashion Fair in Copenhagen, Denmark on August 12, 2010. Photo by Stefan Lindblom/Stella Pictures/ABACAPRESS.COM Photo via Newscom

Photographers desperately seeking pictures of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark's baby bump found some satisfaction from the low-belted blouse she wore to the Copenhagen International Fashion Fair.

The Princess Anne during a visit to the Army Foundation College near Harrogate, where she took the salute at the Intake 23 Graduation Parade in Harrogate, UK on August 12, 2010. Photo by John Giles/PA Photos/ABACAPRESS.COM Photo via Newscom

In chilly ole England, the Princess Royal looked sunny as she reviewed the graduation parade at the Army Foundation College. She will be 60 on August 15.

10 August 2010

Is Letizia expecting?

While there has certainly been no announcement of a third pregnancy for the future King and Queen of Spain, purely coincidental evidence leads me to believe that Letizia Princess of the Asturias may be adding to her family. This is based entirely on the fact that Crown Princess Mary of Denmark latest pregnancy was announced last week. The royal lives of Mary and Letizia have run on parallel courses since the very beginning, with Mary trotting ahead of Letizia in all family milestones by only a week or so each time.

ENGAGEMENT: 24 days difference
The much-anticipated engagement of Mary Donaldson and Crown Prince Fredrik of Denmark was announced on 8 October 2003 while the engagement of Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano took the world by surprise on 1 November.

WEDDING: 8 days difference
The Danish crown couple marched to the altar on 14 May 2004, but still made it to the church on time to see their Spanish counterparts get married on 22 May.

FIRST CHILD: 16 days difference
Mary and Fredrik welcomed the first addition to their family, the future King Christian, on 15 October 2005, while Letizia and Felipe's firstborn, Infanta Leonor, was born on 31 October, amidst speculation about whether Spain would change the laws regarding succession so that she, as a female, might be able to become queen. (The laws, incidentally, have still not changed.)

SECOND CHILD: 8 days difference
The Danes were thrilled by the arrival of the first Danish princess of her generation with the birth of Princess Isabella to Mary and Fredrik on 21 April 2007 while Spain celebrated another little infanta on 29 April to Letizia and Felipe, who named her in honor of her grandmother Queen Sofia.

The Danish court announced last week that Crown Princess Mary is not only pregnant, but expecting twins in January 2011. This certainly ups the ante for Princess Letizia. Judging by her latest photos, it doesn't look like she's entered the baby stakes again yet. But, in order to stay competitive, she must not only conceive quickly but doubly! (Incidentally, Mary is also just seven months older than Letizia and Fredrik is four months younger than Felipe.)

06 August 2010

This Week in Princesses

While we here in the deep south sent our children back to school this week (despite soaring temperatures), European royal families were enjoying summer holidays.

AUGUST 2, 2010

Spain's Queen Sofia looks on during the first day of the 29th Copa del Rey yacht race in Palma de Mallorca August 2, 2010. REUTERS/Enrique Calvo (SPAIN - Tags: ROYALS SPORT YACHTING)

Queen Sofia of Spain is a lifelong fan of yachting, so it was no surprise to see her at the Copa del Rey race on the first day of the competition. It's not unusual for all or most of the royal family to show up.

SCRABSTER, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 02: Lady Louise Windsor disembark the Hebridean Princess with other members of the Royal Family in Scrabster Harbour on August 2, 2010 in Scrabster, Scotland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh along with the royal family have been on a ten day cruise to celebrate the 60th birthday of The Princess Royal next month and the 50th birthday of The Duke of York earlier this year. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

SCRABSTER, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 02: Sophie, Countess of Wessex and her son James Windsor, Viscount Severn disembark the Hebridean Princess with other members of the Royal Family in Scrabster Harbour on August 2, 2010 in Scrabster, Scotland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh along with the royal family have been on a ten day cruise to celebrate the 60th birthday of The Princess Royal next month and the 50th birthday of The Duke of York earlier this year. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
It was a bit cooler in Britain where most of the British royal family ended their holiday cruise. Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor clearly resembles her grandmother Queen Elizabeth II. Not only does she have the queen's girlhood golden curls, but she seems to have adopted the queen's fashion sense, even wearing a little headscarf. Louise's mum, Sophie Count of Wessex, and brother, James Viscount Severn, also enjoyed the family break.

AUGUST 3, 2010

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN - AUGUST 03: Princess Leonor of Spain at the Real Club Nautico de Palma during the 29th Copa del Rey Audi Sailing Cup on August 3, 2010 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

On Day 2 of the Copa del Rey, Infanta Leonor was a little doll in her purple and green summer dress. Although she no longer has her Shirley Temple curls, she is still one of the cutest children on the planet.

AUGUST 4, 2010

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN - AUGUST 04: Queen Sofia of Spain (R), Princess Letizia (L) and her daughters Princess Leonor (L) and Princess Sofia (R) visit 'Gordiola' museum on August 4, 2010 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN - AUGUST 04: Princess Sofia of Spain visits 'Gordiola' museum on August 4, 2010 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
Girls day out for the royal ladies (and little ladies!) of Spain. Abuela Queen Sofia, Mama Princess Letizia and las chicas adorables Infantas Leonor and Sofia paid a visit to the Museum of Glass in Palma de Mallorca. Baby Sofia seemed less-than-impressed with the waiting photographers.

Spain's Crown Prince Felipe (L) and Princess Letizia (R) walk with their daughters Infanta Sofia and Infanta Leonor (C) on the third day of the 29th Copa del Rey yacht race in Palma de Mallorca August 4, 2010. REUTERS/Enrique Calvo (SPAIN - Tags: ROYALS)

Then Letizia and her darlings joined Prince Felipe for a little family time back at the Copa del Rey.

AUGUST 6, 2010

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN - AUGUST 06: Princess Letizia of Spain arrives at the Club Nautico during the 29th Copa del Rey Mapfre Audi Sailing Cup on August 6, 2010 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

Day 5 of the Copa del Rey found Princess Letizia really getting into the nautical spirit with her navy striped T-shirt, denim capris and sporty flats.

03 August 2010

Tragic Death: Rudolph’s Final Moment

Photo by Georges Jansoone

of work by Eugen Felix

via Wikimedia Commons
Rudolph sat stone still on the edge of the bed, tormented by what his life had become, terrified of the next step he must take. Beside him, his teenage mistress lay cloaked by her beautiful hair, her youth forever frozen by the jagged bullet wound behind her ear.

Dawn was coming too slowly, too quickly. Crown Prince Rudolph, heir to the dual thrones of Austria and Hungary, knew he had to complete his plan. It had all seemed so simple, why was he hesitating?

Soon, the handful of servants and his friends would be wandering about the hunting lodge at Mayerling outside of Vienna. Hours ticked by on that frozen January night. Finally, around six a.m., the handsome young man left the chilly bed chamber and summoned his valet, and sending him on a false errand to be out of earshot. As the trusty servant dashed out of the house, the valet heard his master whistling. Knowing no one would hear the final shot, Rudolph sat back down next to Mary Vetsera and placed the gun to his head.

When the Crown Prince did not emerge from his chamber later that morning, the valet and the other servants hesitated to disturb him. They knew he was with his mistress. But the prince’s guest Count Hoyos and his brother-in-law Prince Philip of Coburg, who had arrived that morning from Vienna, were unaware that she had been smuggled in. The room was forced open on Prince Philip’s orders and the gruesome scene unfolded before them.

As the only son of the powerful, hard-working but autocratic Emperor Francis Joseph II and his beloved, beautiful but restless wife Elizabeth of Bavaria, Rudolph had led a charmed life. He was considered one of the handsomest, most popular and most promising young princes in Europe. Even the rapidly aging widow Queen Victoria fell under his spell—her cousin, the Duchess of Teck, teased that Victoria had fallen in love with him.

But as Rudolph grew into adulthood, troubling characteristics began to emerge, like the pleasure he took in killing small animals. His mother’s son, he was restless and liberal-minded. He began keeping company with like-minded people, some of whom sought to overthrow his father. Rudolph even wrote incognito articles for a liberal newspaper. The Emperor, who had once planned to personally train his son for his future role, instead felt compelled to keep him away from state business and had him followed by the secret police. Unlike either of his fearless parents, Rudolph was cowardly and promiscuous. He was moody and felt persecuted.

Forced into a loveless marriage with Princess Stephanie of Belgium, he found no solace in his private life. Even his darling little daughter could not assuage the demons that were pursuing him. (Read my post about Stephanie and her sisters, Three Neglected Princesses.)

Inspired perhaps by the mysterious suicide of his cousin King Ludwig of Bavaria, Rudolph decided that a murder-suicide was the solution to his troubles. He contemplated the idea for many months, always looking for a companion for his plans. He proposed the idea to his horrified wife, who took the information directly to the Emperor. He asked his longtime mistress Mitzi Kaspar to join his pact. She reported the incident to the police who also notified the Emperor. On both occasions, the Emperor could not bring himself to believe that Rudolph was serious—he may threaten to harm himself, but he could never actually do it.

Mary Vetsera
By Atelier Turk

via Wikimedia Commons
Then, Rudolph met the star-struck 16-year-old Baroness Mary Vetsera who was all-too-willing to believe that she was the true love of this man who was nearly twice her age. At first, Rudolph thought he might make a life with the adorable and adoring youngster. He infuriated his father by asking the Pope for a divorce. With that door slammed in his face, Rudolph reverted to his previous plan.

Mary excitedly agreed. She had been the prince’s lover for barely two weeks when she left her mother’s house for a shopping trip with Rudolph’s cousin (and procuress) Countess Marie Larisch. Two days later, her distraught mother, went to the palace to demand that the Empress make the Crown Prince return her daughter immediately.

“Your daughter is dead,” the unusually calm Elizabeth told her, “but also my Rudolph is dead.” The news had been brought to the highly strung Empress only hours before. Everyone feared to tell her—especially since the Emperor tried to keep all unpleasantness from her—but they feared even more to tell the Emperor. So, it fell to Empress to break the news to Francis Joseph, who was distraught and no doubt niggled by guilt at the tragedy.

The palace tried to hush up the cause and circumstances of the death. Little Mary’s uncles were forced to dress her and sneak her away from Mayerling in the middle of the night with her body seated upright between them in the carriage. But, the subterfuge was useless. Telegraph wires and newspapers around the world were already publishing the story before it had even reached the ears of the imperial parents. The doctor would not confirm the proposed cause of death (heart failure), reporting instead that the Crown Prince had died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. He did, however, add that certain brain abnormalities indicated that it had happened in a moment of “mental derangement.”

It was enough to convince the public. Rudolph’s cousin after all was King Ludwig, who had been declared insane before he committed suicide, and who had been succeeded by his even more mentally disturbed brother, King Otto, who had been brought out of confinement to assume the throne under a regency.

It was also enough to guarantee a properly royal and religious burial. His grieving father dutifully attended, but his mother could not bring herself to mourn so publicly. In the middle of the night, she stole out of the palace and hailed a taxi. Against the protests of the monks, she insisted on entering the dark, icy crypt alone but her anguished cries could still be heard ringing through the monastery.

Later, she would say that all those who had whispered against her in Vienna must be satisfied knowing that “no son of mine will ever rule Austria.” The role of heir apparent was assumed by Rudolph’s cousin, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, who, two decades later, would also die with his beloved from gunshot wounds, this time at the hands of an assassin who sparked the First World War.