Archduke Karl Ludwig Joseph Maria of Austria was an Austrian prince and the younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph I. After the suicide of his nephew Crown Prince Rudolf in 1889, he became heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary; however, he died only a few years later after drinking contaminated water from the Jordan on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

In 1891, Professor James Moriarty had stoked tensions between France and Germany significantly, and the threat of a European war was looming. To preserve the peace, the European powers organized a summit at the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. Austria-Hungary sent the archduke to act as its representative, alongside the Austro-Hungarian ambassador.