Return to Queen Victoria
Edward VII,
King of England
(1841-1910)
by Jesus Ibarra
King Edward VII (Hough; Edward VII and Alexandra) Queen Alexandra (Brigitte: worldroot.clicktorn.com
Queen Victoria's second child and first son was born on November 9, 1841; the young Queen had given England an heir. She would have preferred to named the baby Albert like her beloved husband, but as the boy would become King of England, he had to have a more British name, like Edward, so the little Prince of Wales was baptized on January 25, 1842 at St. George Chapel in Windsor, as Albert Edward; although he would be known simply as Bertie in the family.

Bertie was always compared to his disadvantage with his elder sister, Victoria (Vicky), the Princess Royal, who was a very clever girl; Bertie was not so bright. He was a rebel and sometimes absent-minded boy; reluctant to study, he felt unloved by his parents, who marked a clear preference for Vicky, demanding too much from Bertie. He was a tender and sensible boy.

When he was eight, Bertie was put under a private tutor, Mr. Henry Birch. Victoria and Albert were inflexible in anything concerning the Prince's education and Birch was considered to be too soft with his pupil. He had maintained some affection for the boy and was relinquished from his charge and quickly replaced. Bertie was really sorry for Birch's departure. His new tutor was Frederick Gibbs whom he deeply disliked. Because of his rebellious attitude, his father introduced a more severe regime of study (7 hours a day, 7 days a week) such pressure over the boy produced in him terrible excesses of anger, during which he used to throw Gibbs anything at hand.

Bertie spent his childhood longing for love. When he was 13 years old, in 1855, his parents took him in an official visit to Paris and to the French Imperial family. Bertie fall in love with Paris, and his love for the city would last forever. His journey to Paris made Bertie find the vast world that was waiting for him outside his immediate circle and he longed to discover it by himself.

During the spring of 1858, Victoria, Albert and his old tutor, Baron Stockmar, decided that Bertie should be confined with his tutor Mr. Gibbs, in a house known as White Lodge, in Richmond Park, in order to devote himself to study. There would also be at White Lodge with him, Rev. Charles Feral Tarver, Lord Valletort and two officers from the army. Prince Albert ordered Bertie's guardians to subject him to a rigorous discipline regime. The young Prince's reaction was rebellion. He disliked Gibbs and the Prince rejected any wish or order from the tutor.

Victoria and Albert changed their mind about Gibbs when one of the officers in charge reported that such discipline would not benefit the Prince. Gibbs was dismissed and immediately replace by General Robert Bruce who assumed the rank of Governor of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. The new tutor continued mould Bertie into a copy of Prince Albert. The Prince of Wales was sent to Edinburgh for a period of intense study and continued his education at Cambridge and Oxford universities but always under the severe guidance of General Bruce.

In 1860 the Queen paid a visit to Canada to open a new bridge over the St. Lawrence River and lay the first stone of the Federal Parliament building in Ottawa. At the age of forty one, stress prevented her from travelling.

Prime Minister Lord Palmerstone suggested that Bertie could represent the Queen in the Canadian trip. Victoria and Albert had some doubts about whether Bertie could rise to the occasion but at last it was decided that he should go.

On July 10, 1860, Bertie boarded the HMS Hero for Canada. On July 23, the ship arrived to Terranova. The Prince of Wales and his party travelled around Canada (Terranova, New Scotland, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick). By the second week of August, the HMS Hero sailed up the St. Lawrence River and anchored in Quebec. The Prince was successful with Canadian society; he visited Quebec and Montreal presiding over several public acts. In Ottawa he laid the first stone of the Parliament building.

When he visited Niagara Falls, he watched the French acrobat Blondin walk accross by tightrope He invited the Prince cross back with him over the Falls but was prevented by Bruce.

Bertie then visited the United States following an invitation by President James Buchanan. In Washington the President organised a reception at the White House in Bertie's honour. When he visited New York, the Prince was acclaimed by the crowd. His American journey was a great success. President Buchanan wrote to Queen Victoria: "He (Bertie) has faced a very difficult task for a person his age, and his behaviour in all this has been that of his age and position. He has shown himself honourable, frank and affable and he won the respect of the sensible and wise people". At the end of the journey, Bertie had gained maturity and self confidence.

Prince Albert refused to believe in Bertie's success. To him, the joyful acclamations of the Americans and Canadians were not really for Bertie but a sign of loyalty to the Queen. Bertie wanted to enter the army but his father refused and sent him back to study. Nevertheless, on March, 1861, Victoria and Albert changed their minds and allowed their son his wish.

Nellie Clifden
Bertie spent 10 weeks at Curragh Camp in Ireland, with the Grenadier Guards, to experience the duties of all army ranks. Although he was forbidden to leave with his colleagues (he had his own residence apart for the rest of the cadets) Bertie was delighted with the life. His sexual inexperience caused some merriment between his colleagues and some of them decided to play a joke on the Prince. They persuaded a young actress named Nellie Clifden, to share the Prince's bed. Bertie enjoyed the moment but soon the gossip reached his parents via a letter to Prince Albert from Baron Stockmar. Prince Albert wrote Bertie a long letter of admonishment.
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At this time Albert had been suffering muscular pains and insomnia. Although he was feeling ill, he went to inspect the construction of the Military Academy at Sandhurst in very wet conditions. On his return he was sufering from the cold weather. Two days later, in a last attempt to reform his son, he went to Cambridge to see Bertie. On another cold and wet day, father and son took a long walk having an animated conversation. When he returned to Windsor, Albert suffered terrible pains in his back and legs; as he had contracted typhoid fever. By December 14th, the Prince Consort was dead. In the Queen's mind, Bertie had been guilty of her father's death and she never would forgive him.

Before his death, Albert had begun to consider a possible marriage for the Prince of Wales. His eldest daughter Vicky (Crown Princess of Prussia) had suggested some candidates. Princess Hilda of Dessau and Princess Elisabeth of Wied (future Queen of Romania) were put foreward but none satisfied Bertie. Like her parents, Vicky wanted a suitable German princess for her brother to consolidate a German alliance. In late 1860, Vicky suggested Princess Alexandra of Denmark, daughter of the heir to the Danish throne, Prince Christian of Glucksburg (future King Christian IX of Denmark). Although a British alliance with Denmark would disgust Prussia, Vicky accepted that Princess Alexandra was really beautiful. When Queen Victoria saw her picture, she agreed with her daughter about her beauty. The Danish Princess pleased Bertie too.

Vicky met Alexandra at Strelitz on June 2, 1861. She described her in a letter to Queen Victoria as

"charming, with a slim beautiful figure and a pretty skin, fine and regular teeth, beautiful big eyes and perfect gentle manners"

Victoria and Albert were satisfied with Alexandra and they decided she could be a suitable bride for Bertie. They commissioned Vicky to arrange a meeting between Bertie and the Danish Princess. It was decided that they should meet during a holiday at the Rhineland. Alexandra accompanied her parents on a visit to Spayer Cathedral where they met with Vicky and her husband, who were accompanied by Bertie. The Prince was charmed with Alexandra's good looks and gentle manners. Although he was pleased, Bertie was reluctant to get married. Prince Albert tried to convince his son and he at last accepted. A second meeting was being arranged when Prince Albert died.

After Prince Albert's death, Bertie was sent on a journey through the Mid-Orient that would last five months. During this trip, Bertie made up his mind about his marriage to Alexandra and when he came back, he was anxious to get married.

Prince Christian and his wife were enthusiastic about the marriage of their daughter and the Prince of Wales.

Bertie, his wife Alexandra of Denmark and their first child, Prince Albert Victor
Queen Victoria met her future daughter-in-law on September 3, 1862, in Belgium, where the Queen's uncle, King Leopold of the Belgians, had invited Prince Christian's family. The Queen was delighted with Alexandra and Bertie was more impressed with her than the first time he saw her. They chatted and laughed together and later Bertie asked Prince and Princess Christian the hand of their daughter. The wedding was set for March 10, 1863.

The day of the wedding was clear and sunny. At 11'oclock the first of seven Royal carriages with an escort of House Guards, left Windsor Castle and proceeded in the direction of St. George Chapel. The Queen's choice of St. George for the ceremony, instead of Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's Cathedral had been severely criticised. Inside the carriages of the first procession, among other guests were the bride's mother, Princess Louise of Denmark, and siblings, Princes Frederik, Wilhelm and Waldemar, and Princesses Dagmar and Thyra. At quarter to twelve, the second procession, this time of ten carriages appeared. The bridegroom's brothers, Prince Alfred, Prince Arthur and Prince Leopold, and sisters, Princesses  Helena, Louise and Beatrice,  Princess Alice with her husband and the Crown Princess of Prussia with her eldest son, Prince Wilhelm, came inside the carriages.  At twelve o'clock a third procession left Windsor Castle. This time there were six carriages; inside the sixth one came the Prince of Wales accompanied by his supporters, the Crown Prince of Prussia and his uncle the Duke of Saxe Coburg Gotha. In the last procession, which left the castle at quarter past twelve, came the, Princess Alexandra, accompanied by her father, Prince Christian of Denmark and the Duke of Cambridge.  Her dress was not the Brussels lace one that King Leopold of Belgium had given her, but one of Honiton lace the Queen had decided she should wear. Queen Victoria attended the ceremony with some reluctance; she was still in mourning for Prince Albert so she remained discretely in the Catherine of Aragon box. Four-year-old Prince Wilhlem of Prussia (the future Kaiser Wilhelm II), who was seated between his uncles Prince Alfred and Prince Leopold, both dressed in Scottish kilts, tried to throw the cairngorm from the head of his dirk across the choir. His uncles tried to restrain him and the boy showed his displeasure by biting them on the legs.
After the nuptial ceremony, the Prince and Princess of Wales left for Osborne for their honeymoon, where later, they were joined by the Crown Prince and Princess of Prussia with their four -year-son Wilhelm.


   Bertie and Alix, as Princess Alexandra was familiarly known, became leaders of British society life ; during the London season of 1863 they attended several balls and social gatherings where they were the focus of attention. By May, they had established they residence at Marlborough House and since then they were seen en every social event in London. Soon the Queen began to be displeased by the Prince's and Princess' s agitated social life and commented that they were just "like puppets running form one place to another with the only purpose of exhibiting themselves. Whatever the Queen could think or say, Bertie and Alix continued with their active social life that made them popular and  re-established the prestige the monarchy had lost because of the Queen's seclusion
   They also had an intense social life at Sandringham, their country house at the northeast of Norfolk, where they used to spend the first two months of the year and where fun and hunting were daily activities. In early March, Bertie left Alix behind and ud¿sed to go to Paris, his favourite city, where some kind friends prepared him as much pleasures as possible. After two or three days he used to take a train to the Blue Coast where he boarded his private yacht; after several weeks of balls, dinners, parties and visits to casinos, he returned to Marlborough House for the London season. During the summer he attended the Ascot races and in October, he and Alix left for Scotland where they lodged at Albergeldie Castle not far from Balmoral. Here Bertie enjoyed the deer hunting. When the hunting season ended, Bertie and Alix travelled again to Sandringham to celebrate Bertie's birthday firs, then Alex's and finally Christmas.

   Bertie was fond of night life. Accompanied by some friends (mainly Charles Carrington, with whom he maintained a whole life friendship) he attended places of dubious reputation like Evans Music Hall in Convent Garden or to Cremorne Garden of Vauxhall. The Queen disliked his eldest son's frivolous and idle life of which she was partially guilty because of her attitude of maintaining Bertie away from official affairs and because of the repression she and Albert had submitted the Prince to during his childhood and early youth.

   Soon children began to arrive for the Wales couple. On January 8 1864, Alix attended to see Bertie playing hockey in Windsor. She was pregnant  and the baby was expected for March. When she returned Frogmore after the hockey game, accompanied by Lady Macclesfield, she began to feel the symptoms of a forthcoming childbirth. Nothing was prepared; Lady Macclesfield called the only doctor in Windsor, who attended the Princess only assisted by Bertie and by the lady-in-waiting. At nine o'clock in the evening Alix gave birth to a premature child, a small boy who only weight about three pounds. The boy was named
Albert Victor, after his grandparents. The Queen was pleased with the newly born but she disliked the fact that he had been a premature child.
   A year and a half later, on June 3, 1865, another boy was born to the Prince and Princess of Wales, this time at Marlborough House. The boy was named
George. He was followed by three daughters.Louise on February 20, 1867, Victoria on June 6 1868 and Maud, on November 26, 1869. Bertie and Alix adored and spoiled their children, with the Queen displeased. Any effort was not enough to please the Wales children and  to make them happy.

   In 1863, eight years after Bertie and Alix got married, King Frederik VII of Denmark died and Alex's father ascended the throne of Denmark as King Christian IX. Soon after, the conflict for the duchies of Schleswig Holstein sprang out, pushing Denmark into a war with Prussia. This conflict placed Bertie and Alix in a difficult position within the Royal family. Queen Victoria had always been attached to Prussia as a loyalty to beloved husband, who had once dreamt in a unified Germany under Prussia, and besides her daughter Vicky was married to the Crown Prince of Prussia. So in the Prussian side there were the Queen, Vicky and her husband and in the Danish, there were Bertie and Alix, who wanted that the British Government gave its support to Alex's country, but England remained neutral and Alex's father lost the duchies by an humiliating treaty for Denmark. The Princess never forgave Prussia for having humiliated her father.

   The Queen continued denying Bertie any access to official affairs; the Prince for his part increased his fondness for horse races and he became an enthusiastic visitor to the hippodrome. Because of his privileged position he had the best advising in the matter and hired the services of the best trainers in the country. He joined the Jockey Club and attended to all the main races and when his horses won he received the enthusiastic support of the public. Obviously the Queen deplored his son's fondness for races, which was not his only hobby; Bertie was also fond of gambling and soon rumours of his tight financial situation spread all over London. Among the circle of Bertie's intimate friends were Lord Charles Beresford, Prince Louis of Batteneberg, Lord Aylesford, Lord Randolph Churchill, Christopher Sykes, and the most intimate Charles Carrington, who was the Prince's constant companion in his nights adventures.

   Meanwhile Alix had been ill with rheumatic fever since the birth of Princess Louise. Her health had weakened even more because she used to remain awaken the whole night, waiting for Bertie with anxiety. Even Alex's mother, the Queen of Denmark, said that Bertie was responsible for her daughter's illness. The Process's recovery was slowly, but with the rheumatic fever, the deafness inherited from her mother  developed and she lost the grace and elegance of her first youth, walking from then on with a certain lameness that resulted in another kind of elegance which the society ladies used to imitate.
   Bertie did not change his way of life after Alex's illness. In 1869 he and Alix to Mid-Orient and as his costume was Bertie included Paris in their tour. When they returned, Bertie went to White Club with some friends  and because of the smoking restriction in the place, he retired annoyed and took the decision to form his own club. The Marlborough Club was built with great luxury in front of the mansion. Nobody could become a member if Bertie didn't accept him. Smoking was allowed everywhere in the place and there were no special rules; it also included a billiard hall. On one occasion, while playing billiard Bertie rebuked Sir Frederick Johnstone, who was drunk: "Freddie, Freddie", he said, "you are too drunk". Johnstone replied, pointing to Bertie's abdomen: "Tum-Tum, you are very fat". Bertie ordered his assistant to prepared Johnston's luggage for the next morning.

   That same year, Bertie became involved in a scandal that damaged even more his public reputation. An acquaintance of Bertie, Sir Charles Mourdant , a landowner who possessed a residence in Warwick, was married to Harriet Montcrief, a young and pretty but a little eccentric woman. After having given birth to a girl, who was suspected to be blind, her eccentricity became insanity. She told her husband that she had went to bed with Lord Cole, Sir Fredrick Johnston, among others, including the Prince of Wales. Mourdant foolishly believed her and complaint before a court, accusing Bertie of adultery. The Prince was summoned to appear in court on February 23, 1870. When Alix learned about the case, she accepted Bertie's innocence and supported him by accompanying him in all public appearances. The Queen also supported her son, but her true feelings were expressed in a letter to the President of the House of Lords, where she said that the Prince's frivolous and selfish conduct was cotributing  to increase the spirit of democracy.
  The day when Bertie had to confront the tribunal arrived. Lord Penzance, the cause  judge,  asked him several  questions like, when he had met Lady Mourdant, if she frequented Marlborough House before, or if he (Bertie) had seen frequently Lady Mourdant and her husband. Bertie answered "Yes" to everything and he recognized he had written a letter to her before, on the event of her marriage, to congratulate her and he had sent her a wedding present. In fact, some days before he had published the letter and he had proved it was not compromising. The last question Lord Penzance asked Bertie was if there had ever been any familiarity between the Prince and Lady Mourdant. Bertie answered in a firm tone: "No, there was not". The case ended successfully for the Prince of Wales and he could recover his honour. But his scandalous life, added to the Queen's seclusion had severely damage the prestige and popularity of the monarchy and waves of republicanism began to diffuse everywhere in the country.

   By the end of 1870 Alix learned she was pregnant again. On April 6 1871 she gave birth to a premature child, a son, Alexander, who was very small and weak. It seemed he had only a remote chance to survive. In fact he died the following day, causing a great sadness in Bertie and Alix.
   By the end of the year Bertie fell ill with typhoid fever and during several days he was at the doors of death. On December 13th, on the eve of the anniversary of Prince Albert's death, everybody feared the worse, but on the contrary to what everyone expected,  on the 14th Bertie showed a light improvement  and 24 hours later he showed clear signs of having overcome the illness.
   On February 27 1872 a Thanksgiving service was held in St. Paul's Cathedral for Bertie's recovery. It was the first time for ten years that Queen Victoria appeared in public since Prince Albert's death. Both, the Queen and her heir were acclaimed by the crowd. The Prince's illness had contribute to recover the Royal family's popularity and now nobody thought in republicanism

   Although the Queen had noticed that Bertie had changed his attitude since his illness, she continued refusing him any chance of interfering in official matters. Bertie, for his part, always anxious of doing something for his country, decided himself to made a tour through India. The reasons for justifying the trip were that an insurrection was fear in the country; there had already been one in 1857,  and besides, Lord Mayo, Viceroy of India, and Bertie's friend, had been murdered the year before. The rule of India had been transfer from the West India Company directly to the Crown and the presence of the Prince of Wales in the country would have a pacifying effect and would transmit the native princes and the troops the human side of the Crown, which for them were just an abstract concept.
   But Queen Victoria didn't even want to hear about Bertie's trip, which she considered ridicule; but the Prince convinced his mother arguing that Prince Albert had planned an extensive programme of trips for him, including India it, and that the Cabinet had already approved it, which was not completely true.
   Bertie had not informed Alix about his plans and when she learned of them she was quite irritated, and she told her husband that she would accompanied him; her great illusion was to visit India which she considered such a wonderful and magic country, but Bertie didn't intend to take her with him. He had hardly convinced his mother to let him do the trip and she would never allow Alix to go, since she (the Queen) considered that the Wales's children needed of her mother's presence. On the other side, there was no money to cover Bertie's expenses during the trip. He had no money and the Queen would not give any. Finally, Prime Minister Disraeli achieved that Bertie received 12 thousand pounds for his trip form the Parliament. But the Prince  would do the trip alone and Alix would never forgive him for not having taken her.
   Bertie departed form England on October 11 1875. The trip was a great success for him; besides hunting lots of tigers and elephants he established an excellent relation with several British functionaries like the Viceroy and the governors of lesser states, who felt reanimated by Bertie's sincere interest in their jobs. On the other hand, the Prince was displeased by the way some British officers gave to the native chiefs. On the matter he wrote: "It is certainly a deplorable situation... I'm sure that the natives of this country would feel more pleased towards us if they were treated with kindness and firmness but not with brutality and disdain."
   Bertie's report about the conditions in India gained him the ministers' respect; they were surprised to discover that the Prince could be responsible and Gladstone decided to appoint him as the first Commissioner of the British Museum. Later on he was assigned to do some labour in the Royal Commission for the Working Class Housing.
 

  During Bertie's last weeks in India an unfortunate incident occurred in England that would damage Bertie's prestige again. Lord Aylesford, one of Bertie's friends, had accompanied him on his trip to India. During his absence, his wife, Lady Aylesford, a young, sybaritic, spoiled and dissolute woman, was involved in a love affair with Lord Blandford, the eldest son and heir of the Duke of Marlborough. Bertie had innocently flirted with Lady Aylesford some years before and he had written her some foolish letters. When Lord Aylesford learned of his wife's adultery, he , supported by Bertie, who said Blandford was "the greatest rabble alive",  threatened to divorce his wife. But Blandford's younger brother, Lord Randolph Churchill, was decided to avoid the Aylesford at any price, since it could cause the ruin of his family. Churchill, accompanied by Lady Aylesford, paid a visit to the Princess of Wales and told her, with little respect for her royal rank, and threatened her saying that if Lord Aylesford began a divorce process, he would summon the Prince of Wales to declare before a court  and would publish the letters written by Bertie to Lady Aylesford, a matter that could prevent the Prince from succession to the throne.
Lord Randolph Churchill
  Alix was astonished and didn't know what to do. She went to see the Queen, who was infuriated with Churchill's blackmail and for having involved the Princess in such disagreeable matter. Bertie for his part, while sailing on the Serapis on his way home, had learned of Churchill's attempt of blackmail; he was also told that Lord Randolph was accusing him of having invited Lord Aylesford to India so that his wife could be free to attend her adventure with Blandford. He was infuriated and challenged Churchill to duel. But Lord Randolph rejected the challenge writing an insulting letter to the Prince. By April 1876 the news of the scandal had spread all around London.
   When Bertie and Aylesford arrive, the latter publicly declared, on May 12, he was not to divorce his wife. Later on they separated quietly. Churchill sent Bertie a brief note of apology which the Prince rejected. Instead he declared that he and Alix would never set a foot again in the house of any who offered hospitality to Lord Randolph or his wife. The Churchills fled to the United States an enforced holiday. Bertie's dispute with Lord Randolph would last eight years more, although Bertie had accepted a more complete apology he himself prepared. 
The Prince's women:
Sarah Bernhardt
Lillie Langtry
Alice Keppel
Frances Brooke, Countess of Warwick
Lily Langtree In 1877 a woman of an unusual beauty arrived in London. Mrs. Lillie Langtry, whose nickname was "the Lily of Jersey", was the daughter of the Dean of Jersey, W.C.Le Breton.

Besides her beauty she possesed  great femininity, self confidence and a supreme ambition. She married Edward Langtry, who owned a ship, but was not as rich as she wanted, but whom she used as a step to climb in London's high society. When  Lillie and her husband arrived in London, nobody knew them, but after attending a social gathering, where famous artists and actors were invited, everyone wanted to paint her or to take her to dinner. Suddenly her pictures were everywhere; she was admired by magnates and princes, among them, Prince Leopold, Queen Victoria's youngest son. But none of them could maintain their position by Lillie's side when Prince of Wales fell in love with her.

Bertie showed himself with Lillie in public, everywhere in London, with the acknowledge of Edward Langtry. Alix knew about the "Lillie affair" too and she accepted it. She knew that if she complained she would be herself humiliated, so she resigned herself in silence; she even invited Lillie to Marlborough House.

The Prince's relation with Lillie cooled down when, in a party where she had drunk so much, she slipped a piece of ice through Bertie's back, which infuriated him. Form some time he didn't even see her. Nevertheless he continued being fond of her and he even help her to be accepted in the theatre as an actress. He then encouraged Prince Louis of Battenberg to replace him as Lillie's lover. Louis became sincerely in love with her and she even had a baby with him. When Louis confess his parents he was the father of Lillie's baby, he was sent on board of the warship Inconstant and Lillie, after receiving some money, retired to the country to gave birth. Her marriage was dissolved and she married again with Sir Hugh de Bathe. Return to All the King's Ladies

Bertie got then involved with a series of temporal lovers (among them there was the legendary French actress Sarah Bernhardt). Return to All the King's Ladies

The most famous of his mistresses was Lady Frances Brooke, later Duchess of Warwick . Lady Brooke had had a previous love affair with one of Bertie's friends, Lord Charles Beresford. An enmity sprang out between the two friends when Bertie tried to recover a compromising letter that  Lady Brooke had written to Beresford, and which was in the hands of the latter's wife. Lady Beresford. The quarrelled last until Prime Minister Lord Salisbury interfered and both parts reached an agreement. Nevertheless, the relations between Bertie and Beresford remained weak forever.

   When Bertie's relation with Lady Brooke began, Alix was in Denmark and the news of the whole  affair reached her. She decided to visit her sister Dagmar in Russia instead of coming back to England. She returned until on November 12, 1891, she received the news that her son, Prince George, had fallen ill with typhoid fever. Bertie and Alex's mutual anxiety for their son's health led to their reconciliation; nevertheless it was more difficult for Alix to accept Lady Brooke as her husband's lover as she had done with Lillie Langtry. return to All the King's Ladies

   In September 1890, Bertie saw himself involved in another scandal. He was lodging at Tranby Croft, the residence of a businessman named Arthur Wilson, near Doncaster, in order to attend the races. During the evenings, gambling was organized at Tranby Croft; one evening while playing Baccarat, Arthur Wilson's son noticed that one of the guests, Colonel Sir William Gordon Cumming, was cheating. He advised some of the other guests and the following evening, when Gordon Cumming won 25 pounds, the main part to Bertie who was the bank, young Wilson and his companions could testified  the Colonel's cheating. On the third evening Gordon Cumming was confronted by his accusers and was forced to sign a document where he compromised himself not to play Baccarat again. Next morning he left Tranby Croft saying he was going to commit suicide. He did not; instead he complaint before a court for damage and mischief caused by calumny. Bertie was summoned to testify. The Prince's prestige was again damaged since he was publicly known as being playing Baccarat, an illegal game in England. Gordon Cumming lost the case but it was Bertie was the most affected by the scandal.

   1891 was a year of great anxiety for Bertie and Alix because of their eldest son, Prince Albert Victor, or Eddy as he was familiarly called. He had incurred in a dissolute life and used to frequent Boodles at Cleveland Street; it was evident that he needed a wife. His affairs with two princesses, Alix of Hesse and Hélène of Orleans ended in nothing and when he finally became engaged to Princess Mary of Teck, soon after his brother, Prince George, had recover from  typhoid fever, he fell ill with influenza. He never recovered; he died on January 14, 1892. It was a great shock and a great pain for both of his parents. During the funeral Bertie remained with his sight set on his son's death body with tears in his eyes; Alix, for her part, ordered that Eddy's bedroom remained the same as if he were alive.
   It was decided that the new heir presumptive, Bertie's second son, Prince George, should marry his death brother's fiancé, Princess Mary. It was not easy for Alix to accept this; although she adored George, her favourite son had always been Eddy and she never recovered from his death.

   Bertie's quarrel with Lord Randolph Churchill had ended in 1884 and they re-established their old friendship. Alix was glad to be friend again of Lord Randolph's wife, Jeannie Jerome, for whom she felt sympathy and admiration. Churchill's political career developed quickly; in 1885 he became leader of the House of Commons and later on he became Chancellor of the Exchequer under Lord Salisbury's ministry. During this time, he maintained Bertie well informed about the private management of the Cabinet and passed him copies of official confidential papers. It was the first time the Prince had access to Government affairs. Lord Randolph also guided the Prince in all important speeches he had to pronounce.
   Lord Randolph resigned to the Exchequer when he tried to introduce some reforms that were not supported by the Conservative Party. He thought he would pressure the party by resigning, but unexpectedly for him, Lord Salisbury accepted his resignation that meant a shock for him. For 1890, Lord Randolph was completely retired from his political career. During six years Bertie tried to convince his friend to return to policy, but it was in vain. The Wales's and the Churchills continued with their friendship; Bertie and Alix supported Jeannie Churchill throughout the decline in Lord Randolph's health , caused probably by an excess of drug consumption in order to balance his nervous system. He died on January 24, 1895 when he was 45 years of age.

On February 27, 1898, Bertie had dinner for the first time in the residence of Hon. George Keppel and his 29-year-old wife, Alice, who was the daughter of Admiral Sir William Edmonstone. The Prince was immediately attracted by the talent and grace of his hostess and it was enough to begin a passionate relation that would last until Bertie's death. George Keppel accepted the relationship and soon Alice was shown everywhere in Bertie's company. Because of her qualities and discretion she was welcome almost everywhere they went, in England and in the Continent.

Alix tolerated Mrs. Keppel although she never sympathised with her. She was displeased with the fact the Alice appeared everywhere Alix and Bertie went. She was in the yacht races at Cowes, in Biarritz for Bertie's winter holidays or in Marienbad where the Prince attended for his annual cure. Nevertheless, the Princess  was was grateful to Alice Keppel for keeping Bertie entertained, good tempered and far for boredom which haunted him permanently; she used to laugh at her husband and his lover while watching them sitting side by side, since they were both quite plump while Alix, twenty five years the senior of Mrs. Keppel, had always a slim figure.
Continue the Keppel Story or return to All the King's Ladies

That same year of 1898, Bertie met two persons that would be of great importance in his life: Sir Ernest Cassel, who became his financial adviser and would remain in the post until Berties's death, and Miss Agnes Keyser, a generous woman who founded a hospital to provide help for military officers. Miss Keyser became Bertie's intimate friend, but not in the way Alice Keppel was; she was for him like a sister or a mother, and she was his confident. Their friendship lasted also until Bertie's death.

   By the end of 1900, Queen Victoria's health had notoriously declined. She was almost blind and was too weak. By mid-January the end was imminent. On January 22nd most of the Queen's family had gathered at her bedside at Osborne House. Her eldest grandchild, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, had taken possession of the situation  by occupying the most important place at his grandmother's side, putting his arm around her neck. Alix was kneeling at the bedside taking the Queen's hand in hers, with Bertie standing by her side. Before dying the Queen pronounced Berties's name. She died at 6:30 that evening. When her small body was to be placed in the coffin, Kaiser Wilhelm tried to lift it, but Bertie stopped him saying that it was the right of the Queen's sons to place their mother into her coffin, so, putting the Kaiser aside, he and his only surviving brother, the Duke of Connaught, lifted the body and placed it into the coffin
   The Queen's coffin was taken from Osborne to London on board the Royal yacht Alberta. Bertie noticed that the Royal standard in the yacht was at half-mast; he asked the captain the reason at which the man replied: "The Queen is dead sir". But Bertie firmly declared: "But the King is alive", and the standard was raised. The Victorian Era was over and Bertie was now King Edward VII.

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