‘I don’t think a prostitute is more moral than a wife, but they are
doing the same thing.’ Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh


King Charles II, the Merry Monarch, had at least 13 mistresses, of whom the most famous was Nell Gwyn (see p.167). George II had two German mistresses known by their nicknames: the tall, thin one was ‘The Maypole’, while the short fat one was’the Elephant and Castle’. The King spent many happy evenings with the latter ‘indulging their shared passion for cutting out paper pictures’. Louis XIV, the Sun King, had so many mistresses he hardly knew what to do: whenever he wanted to travel with his actual mistress, he had to take his wife as well as his official mistress along with him for propriety’s sake. Edward VII, Queen Victoria’s successor, was a notorious playboy and his list of mistresses included actresses Lillie Langtry and Sarah Bernhardt, Alice Keppel (Camilla Parker-Bowles’s great-grandmother) and Jennie Jerome (Winston Churchill’s mother). As a young prince George IV fell for actress Maty Robinson, aka Perdita, and promised her a large sum of money when he came of age. When their affair ended he did not stump up, so she threatened to reveal his love letters to George III. He paid. His true love was widow Mrs Maria Fitzherbert who he was not permitted to many as she was a Catholic. But he married her anyway. The marriage was ruled invalid and he was forced by his father to many Caroline of Brunswick, but she turned his stomach rather than his head. He was still focused on Mrs Fitzherbert, with whom he would later resume his relationship.

‘A man needs the sexual conquest to prove that he can still do it,
that he can still get it up. It’s like having a duel with himself. He has
to prove it all the time. We don’t have to prove it.’

Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia