When Queen Victoria died senile in 1901, her elder son Albert Edward came to the throne as KING EDWARD THE SEVENTH. Although he was a fair old monarch who gave his name to what became famous as the "Edwardian" age, Edward was a sexual cowboy who spent his whole life chasing skirt in order to get as many notches on the butt of his pistol as possible. More than ten thousand notches is a fairly conservative estimate because he sampled at least four women a week from the age of nineteen until he died at sixty-nine. The actual figure could be between fifteen and eighteen thousand, though, because in good weeks he managed six or seven different bed partners.
To regain his strength, Edward usually devoured an eight course breakfast, and his dinners often ran to twelve courses. When it came to sexual intercourse, however, Edward's eyes were greedier than his famously fat stomach. Proof of this came when he tried to seduce an outrageously sexy blonde wearing a long slinky silk dress at a party-only to discover to his horror that the "blonde" was actually the transvestite Russian prince Felix Yusupov, wearing full drag. (Source: Prince Felix Yusupov: The Man Who Murdered Rasputin by Chris Dobson [Harrap, 1989].)
Rather more amusing for the king was the millionaire Indian prince who was so impressed by His Majesty's sexual comings and goings that he sent him an unforgettable birthday present: a golf bag made from an elephant's penis.
Edward's best-known mistress was Lillie Langtry, the most outrageous "Scarlet Woman" of her time. During the height of her affair with Edward (then the Prince of Wales), a gossip columnist cunningly wrote this sentence in a weekly London journal: "There is nothing whatever between the Prince of Wales and Lillie Langtry." Readers were mystified by this dotty denial but in the very next edition, in exactly the same place, appeared the four words: "Not even a sheet"
Although she was a parson's daughter, Lillie Langtry was an uninhibited character who disrupted many a sedate cocktail party with her outrageous antics. But Edward's ardor for her cooled permanently when she jokingly poured a large helping of melting strawberry ice cream down the back of his neck at a boring dinner party.
Having fallen from the royal gravy train, Lillie took advantage of her notoriety as a former Buckingham Palace intimate by becoming an actress. During a whistle-stop tour of America in the early 1880s, she stayed overnight in a- newly formed settlement in Texas where she charmed the local judge Roy Bean so much (by her skill at poker) that he named the town Langtry in her honor.
Lillie also had an affair with Prince Louis of Battenberg (father of Lord Mountbatten) and by him is said to have given birth to an illegitimate daughter named Jeanne Marie. Later still, Lillie married a baronet's son and became the rather more sedate Lady de Bathe. She died in 1929 at the age of seventy-six.
Another of Edward's sleeping partners was the even more famous actress Sarah Bernhardt She not only had an affair with Edward, but also claimed to have had one with his son, Prince I Eddy. She was also the mistress of the Belgian prince Henri de Ligne, and her bastard son Maurice was said to have been sired by him.
Sarah Bernhardt was as dramatic offstage as on. She kept a silk-lined coffin in her bedroom, and the spiciest tidbit of gossip in London at the time was that she once had sex with Edward as he lay supine, but very much alive, in that coffin.
Just before she died in 1923; at the age of seventy-nine, Sarah coyly indicated that she had "entertained" other famous lovers, such as the French novelist Victor Hugo and Napoleon III, in the coffin and that its pink silk lining had to be changed quite regularly-for wear-and-tear reasons.
Edward's longest serving mistress was Alice Keppel, the wife of an earl. She spent six weeks of every year making love to His Royal Highness in the then-popular French coastal resort of Biarritz. Alice was a real survivor who held Edward's hand as he lay on his deathbed in May 1910 and sobbed that if he died she no longer wished to live. This was not quite true. She clung to life until 1947, when she died at the age of seventy-eight.
Another long-favored mistress was "Daisy" Warwick, the wife of Lord Brooke. But soon after King Edward died, Daisy tried to blackmail the royal family by producing a collection of his sizzling love letters. Although everybody in London society knew all about His Royal Highness being an adulterer, these letters were political dynamite because their publication in a newspaper would have proved it to the workers-who were not supposed to know.
So Buckingham Palace arranged for an urgent application to be made to the High Court, restraining Daisy from selling the letters to the gutter press. Daisy then threw the royals into a dither by threatening to sell them to one of America's biggest newspapers. At this stage, Arthur du Cros, of the famous Dunlop rubber (tire) company, stepped in and paid off £64,000 worth of Daisy's debts in return for the love letters. Mr. Du Cros was later created a baronet. Daisy, by the way, died in 1938, at seventy-six.
The most revealing story about Edward the Seventh-in terms of social hypocrisy-is that while staying in a friend's house one night, he felt rather randy and had to make do by calling for a maid. This was Rosa Lewis, who was made to measure for Edward as she not only served him adequately but told him about several other pretty little young servant girls who would simply adore to be in royal service.
After accepting many of Rosa's recommendations, the king realized she was far too talented to remain in below-stairs service to the top nobs and should give them pleasure upstairs instead. So he gave her the money to open London's (now respectable) Cavendish Hotel in Jermyn Street, just opposite the back door of Fortnum and Mason's Royal Grocery shop.
There, from 1902 until she died in 1952, Rosa ran Britain's most famous high-class brothel where she provided classy harlots for members of Parliament, high-ranking military officers, and much of the aristocracy. The hotel-brothel became so famous that in the forties and fifties many members of the British nobility took their sixteen-year-old sons there to introduce them to the pleasures of the flesh and, often, to discreetly ascertain whether or not they were gay.
Rosa's guests were not all Brits. Her hotel was used by thousands of visitors from overseas, including many of America's most prominent politicians and millionaires, who were taken to the Cavendish by trusted friends in London for discreet afternoon sessions of tea and crumpet. And tarts. This world-famous cat house somehow managed to escape the attention of Scotland Yard's vice squad. Not once during her fifty-year reign as Britain's Queen of Sex was Rosa Lewis charged with keeping a brothel.
Although King Edward the Seventh was a regular visitor at this house of pleasure that he had bankrolled, he still admired his faithful wife Alexandra, the lovely daughter of Denmark's King Christian the Ninth. Alexandra didn't mind the fact that her husband had sex with thousands of other women. What upset her was that all those other ladies knew what a terrible sex life she had with him as he took less than a minute to complete the sex act. In spite of this, Alexandra managed to produce three daughters and three sons. Two of those sons went on to great fame.
Son number one was PRINCE ALBERT VICTOR, known as Prince Eddy. Born in 1864, he was lazy, a poor reader, an atrocious speller, and such a total dunce that his tutors despaired of him. Yet this did not stop a university awarding him with an honorary doctorate of law.
When the truth leaked out about his backwardness, the royal family tried to cover up by claiming he was "slightly deaf." They said this made it difficult for him to hear what his teachers said. Some people might wonder why this normally spoiled young prince was not supplied with an ear trumpet if he did have a hearing defect. But of course he didn't, because when it came to sex, Eddy was a genius who could hear the rustle of silk knickers two boudoirs away.
The most disgraceful but nonetheless intriguing rumor about Prince Eddy is that he was Jack the Ripper. Several books have linked him with the sensational murders that rocked Britain in 1888. The common denominator in these books is that Prince Eddy contracted syphilis from one of the thousands of prostitutes in London's deprived East End area.
Some say Prince Eddy obtained his revenge by returning to the East End one night and killing the disgustingly diseased tart by disemboweling her. Other books state that her fellow prostitutes were murdered by Queen Victoria's royal physician, Sir William Gull.
When Britain's Thames TV showed its three-part Jack the Ripper series, starring the actor Michael Caine in 1988, it categorically named Sir William as the Ripper. Viewers were told:
"We have come to our conclusions after careful study and painstaking deduction. Other researchers, criminologists and writers may take a different view. We believe our conclusions to be true."
Possibly to protect itself against hostile reaction from admirers of the royal family, Thames TV did not suggest that Sir William Gull had been "recruited" by Queen Victoria, or Prince Eddy, to kill the prostitutes. The filmmakers explained that problem away by saying the royal physician was just "insane."
But the late Stephen Knight, in his book Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution, took the subject further. He said Prince Eddy had fallen in love with a Catholic shop-girl named Anne Crook, had secretly married her in a Catholic ceremony, and that she had given birth to his child, a girl named Alice. To prevent a religious scandal erupting, which could easily have toppled the then unpopular Queen Victoria, Sir William Gull was commissioned to kidnap Anne. He did, and rendered her insane by operating on her brain-after which he had placed her in a mental institution.
According to Mr. Knight, this disgraceful plot backfired because Anne Crook had left her baby in the care of Mary Kelly, an amateur prostitute living in London's East End who, in collusion with three full-time whores, tried to blackmail the royal family.
The result, stated Mr. Knight, was that the British prime minister, Lord Salisbury, sent Sir William to "eliminate" all those dangerous guttersnipes in a desperate last-ditch attempt to protect the British monarchy. To give the impression that a total madman was responsible, Sir William Gull had cut out the prostitute's wombs and ovaries or committed other atrocities, such as chopping off their breasts or ears.
Sir William is said to have died in 1890, but there is doubt about this because, contrary to usual medical ethics, his death was certified by Dr. Theo Ackland, who just happened to be his son-in-law.
Stephen Knight's findings were so well researched and convincing that somebody thought him dangerous. Perhaps that is why he was smeared by several newspapers, which tried to claim he had got his facts wrong. He hadn't. His book, which was originally published by Harrap in 1976, has been reprinted twelve times since by Grafton Books of London.
The whole Ripper saga has been confused, perhaps deliberately, by various conflicting claims-the most ridiculous being that Moscow had sent a Russian spy over to kill those prostitutes, just to embarrass the British government. No, that is not one of those anti-Kremlin jokes. The claim appeared in Things I Know by William Le Quex in 1923.
Three years after the Ripper killings, Queen Victoria decided that Prince Eddy, then second in1ine to the English throne, needed a strong-willed wife to keep him in line. The woman chosen was the Princess of Teck, and she agreed to take on the job. Their marriage was/planned for February 27, 1892, but Prince Eddy died suddenly six weeks before that. The Buckingham Palace version is that he died of influenza, though other sources insist it was caused by a softening of the brain due to syphilis.
His intended bride plunged herself into one year of mourning for her lost beloved. After emerging from that mourning, Queen Victoria called her in and told her there had been a change of plan and she must marry Prince Eddy's brother, Prince George.
We are told' she was "affronted and embarrassed" by the idea. But the truth is, she was most eager to be a possible queen and willingly obeyed. The story was then put out that the Princess of Teck had never really loved Prince Eddy but had always secretly loved his brother George, and the couple were speedily married two months later in July 1893. They enjoyed their honeymoon at Sandringham-where poor Prince Eddy had died just eighteen months earlier!
When King Edward the Seventh went to heaven in 1910, Prince George and his wife came to the throne as KING GEORGE THE FIFTH and QUEEN MARY. The diaries of various royals unnecessarily confirm that their marriage was one of total convenience and that no love was involved on either side. But the public was later told that their marriage developed into "a deep and lasting love."
Although she was a very German lady with not a drop of English blood in her veins, Queen Mary's ramrod-back deportment was seen to epitomize British royalty for over forty years. Her regal appearance hardly changed. Jeweled toques topped her tightly packed curls, and there was always the same style of coat and silver-topped cane. Her loyalty to the Crown was beyond any possible criticism-even to the point, as we have seen, of being willing to die for it rather than endanger the coronation of her grandchild, Elizabeth, in 1953.
There has never been one breath of sexual scandal about her. It is not unkind to emphasize that she had not the slightest interest in sex. Some historians have made this abundantly clear by recording her own comment that when her husband did visit her royal bedchamber to provide heirs, she "closed her eyes and thought of England."
This does not mean Queen Mary's character had no blemishes. The big skeleton in her cupboard is that she was "unfortunately afflicted with kleptomania." This is a disease affecting only the rich. When poor people steal, they are thieves. If Queen Mary liked a Georgian snuff box or a similarly valuable silver trinket when visiting the home of a friend, she swiped it.
So many aristocrats complained to Buckingham Palace about her theft of their objects d'art that Queen Mary's lady-in-waiting was told to watch her like a hawk when she went visiting. If she slipped something into her handbag, the lady-in-waiting would later retrieve it and mail it back to the owner with a covering letter stating that it had been taken "by mistake." Some psychiatrists say this kind of unnecessary stealing, particularly shoplifting by rich women, is a subconscious substitute for sex.
Queen Mary was a disinterested mother who gave little love or cuddles to her children-. When she died in 1953 her son, then the Duke of Windsor, told his wife, Wallis: "I'm afraid the fluids in her veins have always been as icy cold as they now are in death."
Queen Mary's husband, George the Fifth, had sowed plenty of wild oats in his youth. At one time he shared a girl with his sexy and alleged "Ripper" brother, Prince Eddy. They kept her in a luxury apartment in London's St. John's Wood area. But, after marrying, George is said to have settled down, and we are told he was a "paragon of virtue."
There is, however, one strange story about George. This surfaced in a French newspaper named The Liberator when he became king. Copies of the article were sent to all members of Parliament - obviously to ensure that the royals did not get the news smothered. It was terribly embarrassing because the story claimed that while in Malta, when he was still Prince George, the king had legally married a British admiral's daughter, Mary Culme-Seymour, and had sired several children by her.
This was political dynamite because, if true, those children were claimants to the English throne. Furthermore, it was alleged that Prince George had decided to abandon Miss Culme-Seymour only when his brother Eddy died and the royal family delicately pointed out to him that, as second in line to the throne, he should quickly discard this little commoner.
The journalist who wrote this story was an E. F. Mylius and not surprisingly, he was charged with writing lies. If he had been allowed to get away with it,. some nasty-minded people might have thought that King George's marriage to Queen Mary was not legal, which would have meant that her children were illegitimate.
During the court hearing evidence was given that, quite apart from never having married Prince George, Mary Culme-Seymour had not even met him during the years in question (1879 to 1898). Journalist Mylius was found guilty in 1911 and sentenced to one year in jail. After serving his sentence, he had a pamphlet published in New York in which he produced evidence, in the form of British newspaper clippings, that witnesses had lied at his trial.
This showed that Prince George had, in fact, met Mary Culme-Seymour in August 1891 when she opened the dancing with him at a large ball in Portsmouth. Ah yes, said Mary Culme-Seymour, "I had forgotten about that." Mr. Mylius, who was still unable to get the justice to which he said he was entitled, commented that he found it rather difficult to believe a pretty young lady could forget the great honor of opening the dancing at a ball with a handsome prince.
In 1917, toward the end of World War I, the British public developed such a hatred of anything German that they kicked innocent little dachshund dogs in the streets. Some people even suspected the German-blooded British royal family of having secret sympathy for the hated "Kaiser Bill"-Wilhelm the Second-who was, of course, Queen Victoria's grandson.
The publicity experts at Buckingham Palace urged King George to change the German name of his royal British house from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. So the magic royal wand was waved and overnight the royal family became known by the much more English-sounding name, Windsor.
Another patriotic little story about King George is that he did not want to give Britain's Victoria Cross medal to America's "Unknown Soldier" when that revered serviceman was to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in 1921. Quite definitely not, said the king. Even when his advisors explained that America had given its Congressional Medal of Honor to the British Unknown Warrior one year earlier, George was not impressed.
He said it was ridiculous to compare the illustrious British VC with the Medal of Honor, which, he sneered, having been instituted in only 1862, "has no history behind it." The British VC, by the way, was instituted by Queen Victoria in 1856. So six years was obviously a long time in the mind of old George Five. In the end, however, he was forced to grant the VC to the anonymous American when the Whitehall diplomats pointed out that America was a valuable ally and could not be insulted with a lesser medal.
Fate sometimes plays cruel tricks, King George the Fifth insisted that his royal physician, Bernard Dawson, be sworn of the Privy Council-an extremely unusual honor for a doctor. As we have seen, Lord Dawson of Penn went on to thank King George by murdering him in 1936.
When that happened, George's son came to the throne as KING EDWARD THE EIGHTH. Although his marriage to Wallis Simpson was described by Winston Churchill as "one of the greatest love stories of history," King Edward had sown a lot of wild oats in his youth. But he was double smart. To prevent the gossip columnists writing scandal stories about his affairs, he only bedded married women. Their husbands did not complain as it usually raised their social standing and even helped them make better contacts in the City, which brought them juicy contracts.
One of his mistresses was Giulia Barucci. She was so open about it that she went around London bragging "I'm the greatest whore in the world." He also had a fling with Gloria Vanderbilt's twin sister, Thelma, Lady Furness. She was not his first titled lady. At the age of twenty-one he had quenched his sexual thirst with the much older Lady Coke. But it wasn't the real thing so he moved on to Freda Dudley Ward, wife of a Liberal member of Parliament.
Later, in September 1934 (when Wallis Simpson was away on vacation), it is said he dallied with Freda's sister Vera, who gave birth to a boy in mid-1935. After being educated at Eton, that boy become an actor and played the part of Ned opposite Marlon Brando in the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty. His name is Tim Seely, and in March 1988 the British Daily Express ran a front page story naming him the Duke of Windsor's "secret son."
In this article, fifty-three-year-old Mr. Seely admitted that he bore an extraordinary resemblance to the duke. "It is something I have had to live with most of my life," he said. But it has not hurt him socially. He still rides to hounds with the upper set-sometimes in the company of Prince Charles.
When King Edward the Eighth abdicated for the love of Wallis Simpson and went into exile as what the royal family described as the "Puke of Windsor," his brother took the throne as GEORGE THE SIXTH-although all his family called him Bertie.
As a child he was knock-kneed so they put his legs in painful iron braces to make him walk properly and appear perfect. It didn't work. To make matters worse, his father, King George the Fifth, was a bad-tempered old bully when it came to disciplining kids and would threaten to punish the left -handed little weakling if he didn't stop whining. That is probably why the highly nervous Bertie became terribly shy, developed an appalling stammer, nervous facial twitches, and a chronic stomach complaint.
When Kingship was unexpectedly thrust upon him in 1936, he told his wife he was terrified he would be unable to cope. Without that wife, he never would have managed. In truth, Elisabeth was the real ruler behind the throne but, just like any loving wife, she gave the outside world the impression that he wore the trousers. Even more shrewdly, she pressed the point that her husband was a shy and sensitive man who, in spite of his terrible stammer and ill health, was absolutely determined to be a good king for them. Pure unadulterated brilliance. No wonder the British public came to love and admire him.
Nobody in the history of the British royal family has ever manipulated the media as brilliantly as Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who was later to become world famous as the "Queen Mum."
In 1940 when Buckingham Palace was slightly damaged by a German bomb, she took full public relations advantage by telling journalists: "I'm glad we have been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the [badly bombed] East End in the face." No wonder Adolf Hitler had earlier told his Nazi propaganda expert, Joseph Goebbels, to describe her as "the most dangerous woman in Europe."
The Queen Mum scored another victory during World War II. With the help of her husband, she gave the royal family the appearance of being typically "English" once more. She helped to condition the British public into forgetting about the German blood in the royal veins and the incredible background of names such as Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Wurttemburg, Teck, Hanover, and Wettin. Yet even today, the real top-drawer aristocrats smile patronizingly at the Royal House of Windsor, saying "They are still Krauts after all, old chap."
Although she was born in England, the Queen Mother usually described herself as a Scot. Great mystery surrounds her birth. It is definite that her mother, Lady Glamis, gave birth to her in August 1900. But incredibly, nobody seems willing to say where. Her father, Lord Glamis, illegally forgot to register the birth, and for that he had to pay a fine of seven shillings and sixpence. And when he did register the birth he deliberately, or accidentally, gave the wrong place of birth-for which he could have been fined under the Forgery Act.