Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary is emotionally unstable and haunted by his obsession with death. He is forced to marry Princess Stephanie. Soon afterwards his former lover Marie Larisch introduces him to a new mistress, Mary Vetsera, a young woman who shares his morbid fascination.
At the hunting lodge Mayerling, Rudolf and Mary form a suicide pact. They make love before Rudolf shoots first Mary and then himself. The royal family desperately covers up the tragedy.