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Princess Louise of Belgium, between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915.
Princess Louise of Belgium, between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915.
Count Mattachich

 

 

The year was 1895, the place Prater park in Vienna. The protagonists of this true story: Princess Louise of Belgium and Count Geza Mattachich - a lieutenant in a Croatian regiment of the Austrian army. One morning, during a chariot ride, the Princess noticed a young man trying to calm his horse. Their eyes met and that marked the start of one of most notorious royal affairs in recent history. Princess Louise was married to Philipp, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha with whom she had two children. The marriage was arranged, so it wasn’t surprising that it was also unhappy. Despite the royal marriage and her children, Princess Louise started an affair with Count Geza and soon ran away from her husband. The lovers first went to Paris, then Cannes and from there they travelled all over southern Europe. Louise and Geza didn’t try to keep their relationship secret and it wasn’t before long that Emperor Franz Joseph I heard of the affair.
He ordered Philipp to confront Geza – the two men dueled, first with guns, then swords. Geza emerged victorious, sparing Philipp’s life. By then, the lovers had spent all of their money and the debts were starting to pile up. In an attempt to secure further means of continuing their adventure, a forgery of Princess Stephanie’s (Louise’s sister) signature was made. The forgery was tied to an amount of $2 500 000 and it led to the arrest of Count Geza and the loss of his title. Louise was sent to a psychiatric hospital. Several years passed and in 1904 Mattachich succeeded in freeing Louise in an amazing adventure, a story in itself. The lovers fled again, from police and creditors, finally settling in Paris. There they spent the last of their days, in poverty, together. Louise died in 1924, a year after Count Mattachich - she died while holding the picture of her deceased lover.