Crown Prince Rudolf
The charming little boy in the picture is none other than Rudolf, the only son of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. The longed-for heir to the throne managed to cause his imperial father many a wrinkle on his forehead in his short life, until he dealt him the deepest blow. On January 30, 1889, he voluntarily decided to leave the world.
Although the Emperor wanted the heir to the throne very much, he never established an intimate relationship with his son. Rudolf was in appearance and character an exact copy of his beautiful mother, Elizabeth, but even with her he was not bound by a closer bond. It was perhaps due to a turbulent life, a peculiar political attitude, a lack of understanding in his father’s house, and an unhappy marriage that Rudolf became increasingly withdrawn into his own world.
By the end of 1888, it was already apparent that things were going downhill for the Crown Prince. He was no longer the cute boy in the photograph. He was suffering from health problems, feelings of despondency and depression. The fateful Mayerling was to put an end to his misery. On the penultimate day of January 1889, his painful life came to an end. He took his mistress, Baroness Mary Vetser, with him on his last journey, but he was not allowed to rest by her side. While Mary was buried in the church in Heiligenkreuz, Rudolf rested beside his ancestors in the Capuchin Crypt in Vienna.