19. The Doomed Adulterous Love Affair Between Prince Rudolf of Austria and Baroness Marie Alexandrine von Vetsera Ended in a Double Suicide
In one of the greatest mysteries of the late nineteenth century, the Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria and his mistress Baroness Marie Alexandrine von Vetsera committed suicide together. When Rudolf didn’t show up for a hunting trip, his friend went to the prince’s lodge, Mayerling, where he discovered the bodies. The case became a sensation: the 30-year-old prince was married, and his mistress was only 17-years-old. For over one hundred years, the incident continues to fascinate historians, as they try to piece together the day of their deaths.
Original investigations concluded that the Crown Prince shot his lover before killing himself. When Marie’s remains were exhumed and studied in the 1950s, the authorities could not find a bullet hole in her body. Several theories suggest that Marie died some other way, and the Prince shot himself out of grief. However, Marie’s final letters, discovered in a bank vault in 2015 tell a different story. She planned the suicide with her lover, writing to her mother in her last letter, “Please forgive me for what I’ve done, I could not resist love…”