On the evening of 27 January, Marie found Mary, her mother Helene and her sister Hanna at home. Mary was drinking tea laced with rum and sat smoking as her mother admonished her. Mary and Marie retreated to Mary’s bedroom, where Mary asked her if she looked nice. Marie later wrote, “Her eyes looked positively evil.”1 Mary would snub Crown Princess Stéphanie later that evening at a soiree at the German Embassy with a “violent scene” being reported in the press. Even the Emperor had been present, and his apparent slight towards Mary had incensed Rudolf. He later said, “The Emperor has openly affronted and degraded me. From now all ties between us are broken. From now I am free.”2 That night, Rudolf spiralled even further in the presence of his mistress Mitzi Caspar.
The following morning, Marie collected Mary and told her mother that they planned to go shopping. They shopped for lingerie before going to Rudolf’s apartments at the Hofburg. As they waited for Rudolf, Mary reportedly told Marie, “I want you to forgive me from the bottom of your heart for all the trouble I have caused you. Whatever happens, don’t think I wished to deceive you or play you false.”3 Rudolf and Mary then left together before Rudolf reappeared alone. He told Marie to return to Helene and report to her that Mary had disappeared while they were shopping. Marie objected to this, but Rudolf became violent and waved a gun in her face. He then gave her money to bribe the driver to back up her story.
Marie did as she was told, and Helene was immediately was convinced that Mary would do something rash. A letter was then found in which Mary had written, “I cannot go on living. Today I have gained a lead on you; by the time you catch up with me, I shall be beyond saving, in the Danube, Mary.”4 Marie perhaps hoped that she could conceal her own role in the tragedy and volunteered to go the police chief. However, he refused to intervene in Rudolf’s private affairs, and a second interview went no better. The police chief later wrote, “She [Marie] came not to make a statement, but because she wanted to exculpate herself.”5 Desperate, Marie wrote the police chief two letters, explaining how she had only been reluctantly involved.
The end came in the early hours of 30 January. Crown Prince Rudolf had first shot and killed Mary before turning the gun on himself. The court immediately went into damage control mode, and many letters, including to and from Marie, were taken. Despite the precautions, the rumour that Rudolf had killed himself and Mary was soon circulating, and Marie could do nothing but worry. On 5 February, a group of officials came to question her at her hotel suite. She tried to deny everything, but her letters had already been located. When Marie later went to see her aunt Empress Elisabeth, she was turned away, and Elisabeth never spoke to Marie again. Marie was forbidden from ever appearing at court again. Marie later wrote that Elisabeth “made use of me, and she threw me aside without a regret.”6
Now a social pariah, Marie also abandoned her lover and transferred her affections to Karl-Ernst von Otto-Kreckwitz and gave birth to his son Friedrich Karl in 1894. Without her connections to the Imperial court, her husband soon saw no use for Marie, and they divorced in 1896. Just one year later, Marie left Karl-Ernst and married a musician named Otto Brucks. He became an alcoholic. With her money running out, Marie decided to cash in by writing about her Imperial relatives. Emperor Franz Joseph gave her a substantial amount of money for a manuscript she had written in 1897. In 1909, her son Heinrich Georg learned of his mother’s involvement in the Mayerling tragedy and the questions about his paternity, and he killed himself. In 1913, Marie finally published My Past with the help of British writer Maude Ffoulkes. Marie was widowed in 1914, and she worked as a nurse during the First World War. In 1921, Marie starred as herself in a movie about Empress Elisabeth, but the film is now lost.
By the time the film was released, Marie had left Europe for the United States. In 1924, she married for a third time to an American doctor. The marriage was miserable, and she worked as a maid in New Jersey before eventually returning to Germany. She died there on 4 July 1940 at the age of 82 – impoverished. She was buried in the Ostfriedhof in Munich, beside her father and her son Friedrich Karl.
- Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.118
- Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.119
- Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.121
- Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.125
- Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.127
- Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.182