Thursday, September 8, 2011

Princess Stephanie is dead, reports Belgian radio

September 8, 1945

Brussels radio reported tonight that Princess Stephanie, daughter of King Leopold II, died a few days ago in Hungary, states the Associated Press.   She was 81 years old. 

She was the widow of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, "whose murder or suicide while with the Baroness Vetsera in his hunting lodge at Mayerling, provided a scandal in royal circles" that has "seldom been equaled.     The events at Mayerling took place in January 1889.  

In 1900,  Stephanie married Count Elemer Lonyay, the "younger son of an unimportant Magyar family."  He became an invalid in 1908.    Another misfortune befell the former Archduchess Stephanie in 1924 when her only daughter, Archduchess Elisabeth, was divorced by her husband, Prince Otto of Windisch-Graetz "after a lawuit that revealed Elisabeth's exceedingly scandalous conduct."

For some years,  Princess Stephanie, who was known as Countess Lonyay, had been living in Hungary in "semi-retirement."

In 1935, Stephanie published her memoirs in which she said that her husband and the teenage baroness had died "in a suicide pact.   She wrote that her husband, the only son and heir of Emperor Franz Joseph, "had associated with many women, plotted political moves and had threatened suicide."

"He didn't want to died alone," she wrote, "and Vetsera loved him so blindly she went with him." 

Her memoirs were soon censored in Austria, and the book's distribution was banned.  Austrian monarchists feared "the story reflected on the Habsburg fmaily, whose restoration they were seeking.

Archduke Rudolf and Princess Stephanie were married in in 1881.

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