Crown Prince Rudolf: I’d Arch his Duke.

Royal families are sort of known for producing unattractive (hideous) people, mostly due to inbreeding. But every once in a while, a king and his queen, a prince and his princess, a marquis and his marchioness get busy and nine months later a true hottie is born.

And Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria was a fine piece of historical ass.


You work those puffy sleeves, Rudy.

Look at that fucking baby face. That sexy modern crew cut. That ruffly-ass high collar. Actually, he was sixteen when this photo was taken, sooo…that’s a little “problematic” to use a very pedological and meaningless word. But whatever, this hot sixteen-year-old grew into this fine specimen of Eastern European inbreeding:

Just imagine him without the beard and moustache. Or pretend he's alive and living in Austin/Portland/Williamsburg and the facial hair is ironic. Hot, right?

YUM. But a historical figure, however ostensibly attractive, is only as sexy as his salacious life. Lucky for us, young Rudy was involved in a very fatal, very sexy scandal in 1889.

Rudolf was the son of Habsburg emperor Franz Josef I and the Elisabeth of Bavaria (who has her own fantastic and scandalous story, but unfortunately it was more sad than sexy). He grew up outside of Vienna, where he and his sister were raised by their granny, and where, like a true nerd, he cultivated an extensive collection of rocks and minerals. Next time you’re in Vienna, hit up the University for Agriculture and check those geologic wonders out. I know I will.

His sister, Gisela, was his best friend, and when she was married off to some Bavarian VIP shit got real emotional. To top things off, Rudy and Papa Franz had a strained relationship, because Rudy was a liberal go-getter and his dad was an old conservative stick-in-the-mud.

So you know, by the time Rudolf married Princess Stephanie (which is a name I didn’t think existed before the 1980s) of Belgium, whom he apparently really liked, trouble was a-brewing in the Hofburg palace. His mother didn’t make things any better when she called young Steph a “clumsy oaf.” Ouch.

Needless to say, Rudy had a lot on his plate. Apart from the family tension, he was being groomed to be an emperor. That’s a serious fucking job. So it might not be surprising that after a few years of marriage he did his duty and knocked Stephanie up with an heir (female…too bad), and then just sort of said, “Fuck it. I’m a royal hottie, I’m here, get used to it.” And by that I mean he drank a lot of booze and smoked a lot of opium and boned a lot of ladies.

Okay, she's sort of creepy. But in a hot way with that fucking mermaid hair.

One of those ladies was seventeen-year-old Mary Vetsera, who was a Baroness and a hottie in her own right. Her real name was Marie, but she Anglicized that shit right up to seem more fashionable. Her father’s status as a baron afforded her a great opportunity to work it at the Hofburg palace, and her mother pushed her to get her flirt on with Rudolf, who by this time was thirty years old, had contracted syphilis and was having seizures on the regular. What a catch!

Although the plan was for Mary to seduce Rudolf, she soon became infatuated by him, as most teenage girls would be. He was a tortured, sexy older man who was also going to rule the country. But whereas she loved and venerated him, he was just sort of looking for another girl to bone. And bone they did, sometime in January of 1889, and that’s when shit got real.

Rudy had recently bought a huge hunting lodge in Mayerling, Austria. He was getting a little cabin fever in the Hofburg, so he called my girl up and said, “Hey bitch, what’s good this weekend? Wanna hit up my tricked out lodge in Mayerling?” And she was like, “Omigod YAHH!” And they headed out into the countryside on a nice little getaway.

And then, on the morning of January 30, they were both found dead. Because there’s no better way to christen your brand new vacation house than with a double homicide!

I'd like to have a Cribs-style tour, please.

There’s been a LOT of speculation as to what happened. The official report stated that Franz Josef had argued with his son earlier that week about his affair, and Rudolf killed Mary and himself at Mayerling in reaction. There wasn’t a gunshot wound on Mary’s body (but a gun was Rudolf’s weapon of choice) and a lot of people think that their deaths were the result of a suicide pact.

Rudolf was truly a tormented soul, and some historians think he had been looking for someone with whom he could form a suicide pact for a while, including a Viennese prostitute who politely declined. Reports have surfaced that suggest that Mary wrote several suicide notes in the weeks leading up to the Mayerling incident, and that the pact was long-standing. What really puzzles people is that the coroners easily determined that Mary died first, and Rudolf waited six to eight hours to kill himself after her death. Really. Just sat next to a dead person for six to eight hours. That’s a long-ass time.

I know it's a tragedy. I get it. But that facial hair is absolutely dazzling.

However it happened, the Habsburgs had a serious PR situation on their hands. Mary’s body was smuggled out of the lodge and buried quietly at a nearby convent. Officials tried to spread the story that Rudolf died of a heart attack, but the Austrian people saw right through that shit and news of the suicide spread faster than you can say “Wiener schnitzel.” Ultimately, the family had to request a special dispensation citing Rudolf’s “mental imbalance” from the Pope so that they could bury him in the Imperial Crypt. Ahh, euphemisms.

But it doesn’t stop there. The Mayerling incident was scandalous in itself, but it also fucked up all kinds of shit in the Habsburg line of succession as well as in the royal family’s relationship. Rudolf’s mother, Elisabeth, grew incredibly distant from Franz Josef, and was randomly murdered nine years after Mayerling. And a few days after the incident, Rudolf’s brother Karl Ludwig, the heir presumptive, renounced the throne like a bitch, putting his son next in line. His son Franz Ferdinand. WHOOPSIES. I’m sure that LHB, First World War enthusiast that she is, would be glad to explain the enormous pile of shit that Europe found itself in as a result of Rudolf’s depression.

The story has been immortalized on the stage and in film, most famously by Omar Sharif, Catherine Denevue, and Ava Gardner in the 1968 film “Mayerling.” All-star cast, no-star title.

As with so many scandalous historical happenings, we’ll never know what exactly happened that fateful January evening. I mean, six to eight hours? Really? I like to think that Rudolf used that time to have a couple snacks, read some books, watch some Real Housewives. But we’ll just never know.

What we’ll always know is that despite the adultery, substance abuse, possible murderous and definite suicidal tendencies, Crown Prince Rudolf was one criminally hot Rhinelander.


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