The Murderess Mistress that Could have Destroyed the British Monarchy
The events that could have meant Queen Elizabeth never took the throne
On 10th July 1923, three shots rang out in the Savoy Hotel, London. Prince Kamal Fahmy Bey had been shot by his beautiful wife, Maggie. Three kilometres away, Edward Prince of Wales, later famously known to abdicate the throne to be with Wallis Simpson, was at a function. Little did he know he was about to enter into a race against time to save not only his reputation but that of the monarchy.
Edward VIII was known as a man who had many relationships; his first mistress opened up the world of promiscuity to him. That first mistress was a Paris courtesan by Marguerite Marie Alibert known to her friends as Maggie Meller.
When Edward met Maggie, he was a young inexperienced Prince; she was an experienced French courtesan; he was twenty-two and she twenty-seven. She was known to be a relentless gold-digger and social climber.
Maggie had worked her way up from the gutter of Paris to the highest class brothels. Turning to prostitution was the only way she could survive. Her sexy charisma and charm meant she was highly successful at entertaining men; she climbed the ladder with ease right to the top when she met Edward in April 1917.
They first met at a restaurant in Paris; Edward was besotted when he laid eyes on her. Over the next couple of months, he spent as much time as possible with her, lavishing her with gifts; in return she unlocked his sexual side. During this time, Edward wrote Maggie passionate love letters with scandalous contents. He included comments about his father, King George, and made harsh judgements about the British conduct in World War I. If exposed, these letters would have ended the monarchy.
When London heard about the affair, Edward was dispatched to Italy, hoping that the relationship would end. It did not work, and the pair remained together for another eighteen months. The relationship would end when the notoriously fickle Edward, became besotted with another woman at the beginning of 1918.
Edward expected Maggie to take his decision to end the affair without question. However, he underestimated her; the letters she had in her possession were a ticking time bomb, a fact she reminded Edward of in November 1918.
As Edward was deciding what to do about the letters, Maggie’s attention was diverted in a stroke of luck. She met Charles Laurent, a wealthy air force officer; she abandoned her blackmail for a more eligible social climber. Maggie and Charles were married quickly; she embarked on a life of luxury. However, the relationship did not last long; she divorced him six years later. Nevertheless, her settlement helped her continue her lavish lifestyle.
It wasn’t long before Maggie had her sights on a far bigger prize when she found herself in the company of a twenty-three-year-old Egyptian Prince, Ali Kamal Fahmy Bey.
Ali pursued Maggie; she refused his advances, so he returned to Egypt. Soon after returning home, he sent for Maggie, saying he was seriously ill. She went to his bedside, where he asked her to marry him. Maggie resisted at first, thinking her lifestyle would change. Ali drew up a contract to state that when married, she could carry on wearing Western clothes and would be permitted to divorce him whenever she wished. She accepted the conditions; they were married.
Both of the couple had a quick, volatile temper and married life turned sour very quickly. The liberating manner of Maggie, now made Ali angry and jealous. Maggie at the time also discovered that Ali had revoked the divorce clause in her contract.
The couple arrived in the Savoy on 1st July 1923. During their stay, they quarrelled continually, both privately and publically. When Maggie became ill with haemorrhoids, she told the doctor they had been an injury from the brutish unnatural sex her husband made her have.
On the 10th July 1923 at 2 am, Ali returned to his wife at the Savoy. He stumbled out of his room a half-hour later into a night porter. The porter reported that he was covered in scratches on his face. Once calm, he went back into the room; the porter heard three gunshots. When he went to the room, Ali was lying on the floor bleeding, and Maggie was standing over him with the gun still in her hand. An expert would later state that she would have had to pull the trigger three times on the Browning gun to fire three times. As soon as she saw the porter, she dropped the weapon; Ali was taken to hospital where he died of his injuries, Maggie was arrested.
It was apparent to all that Maggie would be found guilty. She had been found with the gun in her hand. She had a past as a courtesan and gold digger; no jury would look favourably on her. However, Maggie had a plan; she had a blackmail plot to reignite.
The Get Out of Jail Card
During the lead up to the trial, the media had a great interest in the case. The monarchy saw this and started to panic. A friend of Edward’s was dispatched to Holloway Prison to speak to Maggie. After some discussion, she eventually agreed to surrender the letters she had left with a friend in Cairo for safekeeping; the letters were retrieved and given to Edward. However, it did not take him long to realise that some of the letters were missing; Maggie had kept herself some insurance.
Two months after the murder, Maggie was put on trial at the Old Bailey. Coincidentally at the same time, Edward changed his plans at the last minute and flew to Canada.
The prosecution had a strong case; they had eyewitness accounts, experts on the Browning gun and a history to convict most women.
Barrister Sir Edward Marshall defended Maggie. He started his defence by assassinating the character of Ali. He described him as a violent, sadistic brute and claimed that Maggie had acted in self-defence. He even went as far as to suggest Ali was gay, a severe offence at the time. Maggie, for her part, put on a stunning tearful performance, portraying a Muslim wife who had been kept a prisoner. However, neither of these two was as helpful to the case as the judge.
When the prosecution took the stand, they tried to destroy Maggie’s character in the same fashion. However, the judge refused to allow this in his court; he ruled that the prosecution could bring none of Maggie’s past life into the proceedings. It irrefutably changed the outcome of the case. Having heard only one side of the story, the jury came back with a verdict of not guilty, in less than an hour.
The Egyptians were infuriated with the result, but the British monarchy was delighted they had kept Edward’s name out of court, and it is fair to say they retrieved some misplaced letters.
Maggie disappeared into a life of obscurity as a courtesan in Paris, continuing to use the title of Princess after her dead husband, Prince Ali. She died in 1971; on her death, it was discovered that several of her ex-lovers still paid for her keep. It is unclear whether Edward was one of these. Edward, as many know when on to abdicate the throne so that he could marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. The extent of his involvement in the covert operation to clear Maggie of charges was never made public, neither were his love letters to her.