>The Swan King’s Watery Monument

>“Alas, he is so handsome and wise, soulful and lovely, that I fear that his life must melt away in this vulgar world like a fleeting dream of the gods.”

“The King was not mad; he was just an eccentric living in a world of dreams. They might have treated him more gently, and thus perhaps spared him so terrible an end.”

Michael Jackson? No, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, from composer Richard Wagner and Empress Elisabeth (Sissi) of Austria, both close friends of his. But perhaps MJ was actually the King Ludwig of his day, pathologically shy, eccentric and flamboyant. Although the official line is that he took his own life (at age 40) in the waters of Lake Starnberg the day after he was deposed for being “mentally ill”, he was most likely murdered. He was also probably just gay, or so many think. A broken engagement to a perfectly good princess, among other things, seems to support that, but all evidence is of course circumstantial.
The cross marks the site where the King’s body was found, and the chapel is just up the hill from there. The surrounding area is all woodland, with trails for mountain bikers and joggers. We had seen this chapel from the other side of the lake (5 kilometers away), but had mistaken it for the Bismarckturm (another pile of rocks in the area.) Tourists still come to read the plaque on the chapel wall and photograph the cross, nearly 125 years after Ludwig’s death. Many more tour his castles in the Bavarian Alps. Will people be listening to Michael Jackson recordings in 125 years’ time? I have no idea.

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