Thursday, September 10, 2015

Unlucky Prince Eddy: Queen Victoria's grandson was the subject of scandal

Even his nearest and dearest, who were naturally bent on making the best of poor Prince Eddy, could not bring themselves to use more positive terms. Prince Eddy was certainly dear and good, kind and considerate. He was also backward and utterly listless. He was self-indulgent and not punctual. He had been given no proper education, and as a result he was interested in nothing. He was as heedless and as aimless as a gleaming gold-fish in a crystal bowl.

 - James Pope-Hennessy
From Queen Mary.Queen 1867 - 1953. Knopf. 1960

Prince Albert Victor, known to his family as "Eddy," was second in the line of succession to the British throne.  His father. Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), was the son and heir apparent to Queen Victoria.  His mother, Alexandra, Princess of Wales, was the former Alexandra of Denmark.  Poor Eddy, however, never ascended to the the throne and he never married the woman he loved.  He died before his father and his grandmother,  He was much-maligned in life and well after his untimely death.  For his detractors, however, Eddy was largely the author of his own misfortune.

Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward was born on January 8, 1864.  Due in March, the little prince was born prematurely at Frogmore House, a royal country estate on the east side of Windsor Castle in the English county of Berkshire.  He was named "Albert" after his paternal grandfather, Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, "Victor" after the queen herself and "Christian" after his maternal grandfather, King Christian IX of Denmark.

Baby Prince Albert Victor with his parents

The new baby weighed less than four pounds.  His premature birth left him with a weak immune system and he was frequently ill.  He was considered to be of low intelligence and was partially deaf due to hearing problems inherited from his mother's side of the family.

On June 3, 1865, Eddy's younger brother, George Frederick Ernest Albert (later King George V) was born in Marlborough House, London.  Although the two brothers were close in age, their lives turned out very differently, with George being the more fortunate sibling, while the hapless Eddy could not seem to do anything right.

After the birth of George, three daughters, Louise (1867-1931), Victoria (1868-1935) and Maud (1869-1938), followed in succession.  Another son, Alexander John, was born prematurely on April 6, 1871, but he only survived for a day.  Meanwhile, George and Eddy were educated together under the tutelage of Reverend John Neale Dalton, who remarked that Eddy had an "abnormally dormant condition of mind."

Prince Eddy (left) and Prince George c. 1870

Prince Eddy (right) and Prince George

It was decided that young Prince George should pursue a career in the navy and Reverend Dalton advised that elder brother Eddy should join him as a naval cadet aboard the Royal Navy's training ship, HMS Britannia. Dalton was of the opinion that George would help motivate his struggling older sibling.  As cadets, the boys learned the fundamentals of seamanship

When their time aboard the Britannia ended, the brothers were transferred to the HMS Bacchante, As, midshipmen, they embarked on a three-year world tour aboard the Bacchante, which began with a voyage to Gibralter in 1879.  When their Bacchante cruise came to an end, Eddy and George spent six months in Lausanne, Switzerland to improve their French.  Then the princes finally went their separate ways.  George received another posting at sea, while it was decided that Eddy should further pursue his academic studies.

In October of 1883, Prince Albert Victor entered Trinity College, University of Cambridge, to finish his education.  Eddy failed to impress his tutor, J.K. Stephens, who didn't think his student could derive much benefit from attending lectures at Cambridge.  Stephens described the prince as someone "who barely knows the meaning of the words to read."  In 1865, Eddy departed from Cambridge after being excused from writing exams.  He then became an officer in the 10th Hussars, a cavalry regiment of the British army.  His brother George, however, remained in the navy.

Prince Eddy (right) and Prince George

In 1890, at the age of 26, Eddy returned to civilian life after an undistinguished army career. Prince Albert Victor's lack of military and academic achievement was par for the course. Throughout his life, Eddy was the subject of criticism, speculation and controversy.  He found himself linked to the notorious "Cleveland Street Scandal."

The scandal broke in July of 1889 and involved a male brothel located at 19 Cleveland Street in London.  Implicated in the scandal were high ranking figures in British society, including Lord Arthur Somerset, an Extra Equerry or personal attendant of Eddy's father, the Prince of Wales. Eddy was also rumoured to be a "brothel client," although he had never been named by any of the prostitutes.  The Prince of Wales, intervened and Eddy was not formerly interrogated or prosecuted in the investigation.

Eddy's father and Queen Victoria felt that the young man needed the influence of a wife to settle him down.  The queen encouraged him to woo Princess Alix of Hesse, his first cousin and Victoria's granddaughter. Alix, however, refused Eddy's marriage proposal.  In 1894, she wed Tsar Nicholas II of Russia instead and became known to history as Alexandra Feodorovna, the last Empress of Russia. On July 17, 1918, following he Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Nicholas and Alexandra and their children were taken to a basement room and assassinated.

In October, 1889, after having been linked to a scandal and rejected by Princess Alix, Albert Victor set forth on a seven month tour of India amid speculation that he was trying to evade accusations and disassociate himself with the Cleveland Street scandal.  However, according to two authors, Theo Aronson in his book Prince Eddy and the Homosexual Underworld (1994) and Andrew Cook in Prince Eddy: The King Britain Never Had (2006), the tour had been planned in the spring, before the scandal had come to light.
While in India, Prince Albert Edward became acquainted with a woman named Margery Haddon, the wife of civil engineer Henry Haddon, who was based in the city of Calcutta (now known as Kolkata). Described as vivacious, Margery was the daughter of a civil servant.  She was born and raised in Calcutta, which was then the centre of British colonial power in India.

After Eddy's death, Margery travelled to England and named the prince as the father of her son, Clarence Guy Gordon Haddon.  In 1914, she was arrested outside the gates of Buckingham Palace after shouting that she was the mother of the prince's illegitimate child. By that time, Margery was in dire straights and she appeared deranged.  The unfortunate woman had apparently become an alcoholic, and had had several failed marriages.  Still, she remained adamant about her son's paternity.  She asserted that her affair with the Duke of Clarence had begun at one of a number of the gala balls given during Eddy's tour of India.

The head of Scotland Yard's Special Branch, which is responsible for royal matters and the security of the royal family, investigated the matter and eventually dismissed the claim.  In 2005, official papers in the National Archives were released concerning the Haddon affair.  These documents reveal that Albert Victor's lawyers had conceded that there had almost "certainly" been "some relations" between the prince and Mrs. Haddon, while denying that Eddy had fathered her son.

The documents also reveal evidence of a cover-up by the royal family.  Margery Haddon was becoming troublesome and could not be ignored any longer.  Officials quietly arranged a passage for her to return to India.  Clothes were provided for the desperate woman through funds from a secret Scotland Yard account and she was given spending money.  An intermediary for the duke also provided financial support for young Clarence.  On February 20, 1915, Mrs. Haddon departed for India and there is no record of her returning to England.  The affair was kept out of the public eye until the 1920s when Clarence, who had spent much of his adult life working abroad, turned up in London.

Upon his return from India, Eddy was given the title of Duke of Clarence and Avondale and Earl of Athlone by Queen Victoria On May 24, 1890, her 71st birthday. The prince also became enamoured of  Princess Hélène of Orléans, the daughter of  Philippe, Comte de Paris, the pretender to the French throne. Hélène was born on June 13, 1871 in London, England, where her father was living in exile from France.  The couple wanted to wed, but Hélène was not considered a suitable bride for Eddy because of her Roman Catholicism. The major obstacle to the marriage was the Act of Settlement, an act passed by the Parliament of England in 1701 which prohibits anyone who becomes a Roman Catholic or marries one to ascend to the throne.

Princess Hélène of Orléans

Eddy and Hélène's romance almost caused a constitutional crisis and Prince Albert Victor even considered renouncing his claim to the throne. In frustration, the couple went before Queen Victoria to plead their case and Hélène expressed her willingness to convert to the Church of England. Victoria, although initially opposed to the marriage, was eventually persuaded to agree to the match. Still, the marriage never happened.

Princess Hélène's father was unyielding.  He refused to allow his daughter to convert to Anglicanism. As a last resort, Hélène decided to take her case directly to Pope Leo XIII.  In an audience with the pontiff, she implored him to allow her children to be raised as Protestants. According to a letter from the Baron de Charette, a family friend who had accompanied the princess, the pope said, "It is useless, you know I can't compromise on the principles I represent."

Many years later years later, Prince Michael of Greece (born January 7, 1939), a great nephew of Hélène and a first cousin once removed to Prince Albert Victor, was permitted to rummage through some family papers. He came across a file marked "Eddy," which contained correspondence between Hélène's father, the Count of Paris, and the Vatican., and letters from Eddy to Hélène.  Based on his discovery, Michael, a historian, wrote a book about about the star-crossed love affair entitled Eddy and Helene: An Impossible Match.

Eddy's letters were tender and bittersweet and they provide some insight into the relationship between Albert Victor and the woman he loved.  In his missives from Balmoral and Sandringham, a smitten Eddy addressed Hélène as "his beloved one."  He wrote that she was "indeed to me an angel upon Earth."  "Nothing on Earth," he vowed, "would turn my resolve to stick to you whatever happens, even if I had to wait 50 years or more.

Despite the prince's solemn pledge to stand with Hélène, the relationship was doomed.  In May of 1891,  Hélène wrote to Eddy advising him to "do your duty as an English prince without hesitation and forget me."  Three days later, he responded, telling her that it "almost breaks my heart to think that our lives must be spent apart.”

On July 1, 1891, Queen Victoria wrote to Hélène and told the princess that she supported the marriage but "feared the difficulties of this marriage . . . would be insurmountable . . . that in spite of my keen desire to facilitate this union, my hands are tied and I can change absolutely nothing in the laws which prohibit all marriages between English princes and Catholics, because of the succession to the throne."  She also told Hélène that she believed "her poor grandson," although unhappy, would "have to accept it.

Unlike his nephew, King Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936 to marry a twice-divorced American, Eddy did his "duty as an English prince."  Yet he never forgot Hélène and neither did his grandmother. After his death, Queen Victoria sent her the dried flowers that had been placed on Eddy's coffin.  “I beg you to accept these keepsakes as proof of my affection for the one who was so devoted to my dear grandson," she wrote from Windsor Castle.

Months after his break-up with  Hélène, a suitable Protestant bride was finally found for the heartbroken Prince Eddy.  In December of 1891, he became engaged to Princess Mary of Teck, known informally as "May,"  Mary was born at Kensington Palace in London on May 26, 1867. Although raised in England, she was a princess of Teck in the Kingdom of Württemberg (a state in Germany that existed from 1806 to 1918).  Her father, Francis, Duke of Teck, was of German extraction.  Her mother, the Duchess of Teck (born Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge), was a member of the British royal family and a granddaughter of King George III.

Prince Eddy and Mary of Teck
                                                                        Photo Credit –

Mary of Teck was 24 years of age when she became engaged to Prince Albert Victor.  She was Eddy's second cousin once removed and highly regarded by Queen Victoria.  The marriage, however, never occurred.  A month before the wedding, which was scheduled for February 27, 1892, Prince Albert Victor became ill with influenza while at Sandringham House, Norfolk.  Soon after, he developed pneumonia and died on January 14, 1892.  He was just 28 years old at the time of his passing. While delirious during his final moments, Eddy called out the name of his beloved Hélene.

Mary of Teck in 1893

During the 1960s, speculation arose that Prince Eddy had been involved in the infamous "Jack the Ripper" murders in which five women, thought to be prostitutes, were brutally killed in the Whitechapel district of London between August 31 and November 9, 1888.  The victims were Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly.  They were strangled to death and organs were removed from their body.  It is for this reason that the killer is believed to have had some surgical skill.

According to the book Jack the Ripper A-Z, the allegations linking Prince Eddy to the murders can be traced to author Philippe Julllien's book, Edward VII, published in 1962.  In his book, Jullien writes that "the prince and "the Duke of Bedford" were rumoured to have perpetrated the murders, although he did not specify which Duke of Bedford was involved.  Then, in November 1970, an article in The Criminologist by Dr. Thomas Stowell raised eyebrows.  The article, titled "A Solution," was actually a veiled accusation against Prince Eddy.

Stowell used the private papers of Sir William Gull, a prominent 19th century English physician who treated members of the royal family, as his source material.  He made a case against the killer he referred as "S" (for suspect).  "S" was an heir to power and wealth and was nicknamed "Collar and Cuffs" (Prince Eddy was referred to as "Collar and Cuffs" due to the high starched collars he wore to conceal his unusually long thin neck).  According to Stowell, "S" had contracted syphilis in the West Indies.  The disease had caused him to become insane and he was compelled to commit the horrific murders.  The royal family had tried to hide him away and have him committed to a mental hospital.

Author Stephen Knight, in his 1976 book Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution, theorized that Prince Albert Victor had fathered a child with a working class Whitechapel woman named Annie Elizabeth Cook and that he had secretly married her.  Eddy and others, he surmised, had committed the murders to cover up the prince's indiscretions and to serve an anti-Catholic Masonic conspiracy. According to this theory, one of  "Jack the Ripper's" victims was the child’s nanny and another was a case of mistaken identity.

Although Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution was a commercial success, there are so many contradictions in Knight's theories that some regard it as a hoax.  Another book, Prince Jack: The True Story of Jack the Ripper (1978), written by Frank Spiering, also pointed the finger at Prince Eddy.  It claimed that Prince Albert Victor was capable of carrying out the surgical techniques used on the murder victims because as an avid hunter, he was skilled at "dressng deer."

The allegations linking Eddy to the "Jack the Ripper" murders, however, are not supported by any concrete evidence. In fact, Court and Royal records show that the prince was not even in London at the time of the important murder dates.  From August 29, 1888 until September 1888, he was staying with Viscount Downe at Danby Lodge (Nichols was murdered August 31).  From September 7-10, 1888, he was at the Cavalry Barracks in York (Chapman was murdered September 8).  From September 27-30, 1888, he was at Abergeldie, Scotland and Queen Victoria recorded in her journal that she had lunch with her grandson there (Stride and Eddowes were murdered between 1.00 and 2.00 a.m. on September 30).  From November 2-12, the prince was at Sandringham. (Kelly was murdered November 9).

Most historians have dismissed claims that Prince Albert Victor was involved in the gruesome crimes of 1888.   While Eddy certainly had his faults, it is extremely doubtful that he was responsible for the "Jack the Ripper" murders.


* On July 6, 1893, Mary of Teck married Albert Victor's brother, Prince George.  Upon the death of Edward VII on May 6, 1910, George became king and reigned as George V until his death in 1936. Queen Mary passed away on March 24, 1953, only 10 weeks before the coronation of her granddaughter as Queen Elizabeth II.

* On June 25, 1895, Princess Hélène of Orléans married Italian-born Prince Emanuele Filberto Vittorio, second Duke of Aosta, a member of the House of Savoy and a cousin of King Victor Emmanuel of Italy.  The wedding took place at the Church of St. Raphel in Kingston upon Thames, England.  The couple had two sons, Amedeo (1898-1942), third Duke of Aosta and Aimone (1900-1948), fourth Duke of Aosta.

Hélène was widowed in 1931 and remarried in 1936.  Her second husband was Colonel Otto Campini (1872–1951).  Hélène died at Castellammare di Stabia, Italy (an area in the Metropolitan City of Naples) on January 21, 1951.  She was 79 years old at the time of her passing.

*  In the 1920s, Clarence Haddon, who was obviously named after the Duke of Clarence, showed up in London demanding to be recognized as the son of Prince Albert Victor.  Not having documentary evidence, his claims were not taken seriously and he was viewed as somewhat of a crackpot.  Still, he continued his campaign to be recognized at the prince's son.

In 1929, Haddon published a book entitled My Uncle, King George V, in which he reiterated his mother's claim that he was Prince Eddy's offspring.  He asserted that he was born in London in September of 1890, about nine months after Prince Albert Victor's meeting with Margery Haddon.

On November 29, 1933, Clarence Haddon was arrested and charged with threatening and attempting to blackmail King George V.  He was accused of writing to the king and demanding money in return for silencing his claims that he was George's nephew.

According to an Associated Press (AP) news report, Clarence Haddon went on trial in London on January 11, 1934.  The report, describes Haddon as an "unemployed consulting engineer."  It quotes Haddon as telling the court that he "had witnesses to say that his mother was secretly married to the Duke of Clarence."

The judge, believing that Haddon was delusional, eventually found him guilty and placed him under conditions of bail for three years, provided that he refrained from claiming that he was Prince Eddy's son. He later breached his bail conditions and was incarcerated for a year. According to one source, My, Clarence Haddon died circa 1940.

- Joanne