Marguerite left the nuns as quickly as she could and was placed with a family as a domestic servant. But the job did not last long. By mid 1906, at 15, she’d become pregnant. The birth of daughter Raymonde put an abrupt end to her stay with the family. Marguerite returned home but her parents could not care for her baby daughter who was sent away to be looked after on a farm in central France.
The homeless Alibert turned to sex work instead and quickly became an upper-class prostitute-courtesan. The brothel owner liked her work, especially since all the best clients, gentleman of wealth in France and Britain, asked for her.
By 17, Alibert was in a relationship with 40-year-old Andre Meller, a married wealthy Parisian, who bought her a flat to conduct their affair in privacy. He owned many horses and since Marguerite loved horses, that may very well have encouraged their romance. The couple broke up in 1913 yet Alibert often used his surname as her own.
The Prince of Wales disembarked in France from the Pas de Calais, 1917
Alibert met 22-year-old Edward Prince of Wales (1894–1972) in 1917, one year before WW1 ended. Colonel Edward partied in Paris while on leave from his regiment on the Western Front... and it was there he met his first mistress. Alibert helped transform him from an innocent lad to the darling of society and later a much-loved King.
Thank you to the book The Prince, the Princess and the Perfect Murder, by historian Andrew Rose. It took Rose several years to research Alibert’s affair with Prince Edward, discovering documents in her grandson’s collection. Best of all, Rose read Alibert’s journal outlining her affairs and the fact that she’d been married and divorced five times.
The Prince was infatuated with Alibert at first sight and they became lovers for at least a year. Alibert was a few years older and was far more sexually skilled than the Prince. Alibert was said to have a dominating streak, and she’d often sleep with a gun under her pillow. But she was also intelligent and articulate, as well as being skilled in the bedroom, making her highly sought after. Their affair was intense, so the Prince made multiple trips to Paris until mid 1918. Then the affair petered out.
The most foolish thing the Prince did during the affair was write 20+ very indiscreet letters to his mistress, detailing his sex needs, military matters and intimate information about his difficult father, King George V. There were numerous mistresses after Alibert, but Edward’s French former lover remained a constant worry to the Prince's minders due to his surviving letters.
To the relief of the court, Edward shifted his interest in 1918 to a married British woman, Freda Dudley Ward. Marguerite knew she was no longer his mistress, but she wasn’t going to be simply cast aside. So she aimed to benefit financially from the future king, via blackmail. In Nov 1918 Edward received a letter reminding him of their mail!
Marguerite Alibert, 1918
Fortunately for Edward, Marguerite quickly moved on from her relationship with the Prince to Charles Laurent, a young, rich and handsome Airforce officer. Laurent's family owned a famous hotel and shops in the Grand Magasins du Louvre. They married in 1919 but the marriage failed and was soon dissolved. Fortunately for Marguerite, she received a large divorce settlement, paying for her flat, a stable of 10 horses, two cars and servants.
This Catholic French woman met the extremely rich Egyptian playboy Ali Fahmy Bey of Egypt, 10 years her junior. The Bey proposed marriage, and she accepted, but with conditions. A contract was drawn up that permitted her western-style clothing and to divorce the Bey at any time. In return, she would convert to the Muslim faith, thereby ensuring Ali’s inheritance. They married in Dec 1922 in Egypt, by a civil ceremony and then in a Muslim wedding in Jan 1923.
But just before the religious ceremony, Fahmy ordered the divorce clause removed. Marguerite hated the abusive man; he frequently beat her and got a houseboy to follow her all day. So the marriage was a disaster and when it finally failed, it did so in the most explosive, dramatic way.
The couple travelled to London in July 1923, and registered at the elegant Savoy Hotel. The couple attended the theatre, then returned to their hotel, had a violent fight and the Bey left. In full evening dress he took a taxi towards Piccadilly, visiting either a nightclub or a prostitute.
At midnight, in a violent thunder storm, Savoy’s nightporter heard 3 gunshots. Rushing upstairs, he found Marguerite holding her pistol. Her husband Ali Fahmy Bey lay dead with 2 bullets in the back and one bullet in the head. As police arrived to take Marguerite away, they apparently realised she’d been the first lover of the heir to the British throne.
Marguerite appeared at the Old Bailey for the murder of her husband, dressed by Chanel, with jewellery by Cartier and accessories by Van Cleef & Arpels and Louis Vuitton.
Ali Fahmy Bey of Egypt, 1923
Photo credits: news.com.au
The royal family never breached family secrets! So at Old Bailey, Prince Edward’s advisors had to make a secret deal with his ex-lover. If she returned all of Edward’s letters from Cairo, her sexual past would never be mentioned in court and her freedom was guaranteed. Instead the trial would focus on Ali Fahmy’s violence. Meanwhile Prince Edward was whisked away to Canada on a royal visit and his secret past remained buried. His notorious womanising was probably not quite suited to his future role as King.
Alibert was acquitted of both murder and manslaughter, and lived lavishly in Paris. She played small parts in movies, and charmed wealthy men until she left the public spotlight. She died at 80, in 1971.
Alibert and Prince Edward had had a serious affair that eventually exploded, full of royal passion, blackmail, sex and intimate letters. Edward got lucky, at least until he abdicated the throne for Wallis Simpson 20 years later. But he was far from the first royal with a secret eg Queen Victoria and John Brown, Princess Louisa's baby, Bertie's (Prince Albert) court cases etc. So how did this royal deal with Marguerite remain secret from the public for c100 years?
Talking of secrets, Tweedland has the fascinating story of the British state plot to assassinate King Edward VIII. How did we not know about it?