The Prince, The Princess and the Perfect Murder by Andrew Rose
In April 1917 Edward, Prince of Wales, (the future King Edward VIII of Great Britain) at a luncheon at the Crillon Hotel in Paris, France had the misfortune to meet the very sexy and utterly loathsome Marguerite Alibert. The Prince The Princess and the Perfect Murder, is the story of the playboy prince, one of his mistresses, and the murder in London, England of an Arab playboy. The action in this thoroughly researched book takes place in a maison de rendez-vous, a luxurious chateau in the French countryside that provided hospitality for the British upper classes. Marguerite was a successful demimondaine who could be amusing company, sophisticated in manner and extremely chic. She was an expert in bed but she was also an expert at manipulating men and parting them from very large sums of money. When crossed she proved spoilt, vindictive and possessed of a terrifying temper. The Prince fell for her at once and began an affair which lasted just over a year.
Edward was 22 years old but young for his age and naïve. During his infatuation with Marguerite, he unwisely wrote her a number of dangerously indiscreet letters, containing, among other things, comments about the conduct of World War I and some abusive criticism of his father. When eventually Edward tired of her, Marguerite apparently threatened to blackmail him, although in the event, and probably through the intercession of the Palace and Special Branch, nothing came of that threat.
Some years later, Marguerite traveled to Cairo, Egypt and met the multi-millionaire playboy, Ali Kamel Fahmy bey. He was nervous and rather weak but Ali was accustomed to having his way. He spent huge amounts of money on cars and motor boats and gambling in Deauville, Monte Carlo and Biarritz. He also expected his women to do exactly as they were told. Marguerite was not used to this. He and Marguerite were soon at each other’s throats. So Ali tried to ‘train’ his wife. This further infuriated Marguerite. She also very much disliked his keenness for anal sex. In July 1923 Ali and Marguerite arrived in London, England and moved into the Savoy Hotel where they had another violent row during a late supper and Marguerite threatened to smash a wine bottle over Ali’s head. he couple retired to their suite and in the early hours of the morning Marguerite shot and killed her husband.
Marguerite’s trial for murder at the Old Bailey takes up much of the book. There was some concern on the part of the Prince of Wales lest the existence of his embarrassing letters should come up in court when Marguerite was questioned about her past, but no mention was made of them nor of his friendship with the accused. So, the author’s strenuous attempts to structure the book as an establishment cover up fall flat. Edward had little part to play in Marguerite’s problems at this point in her life.
The story of Marguerite is interesting because it reveals her as a far from appealing personality but also the book explains the social history of the time and a glittering and decadent lives of the rich, both in Paris and Cairo.
Andrew Rose practiced law as a barrister in London for twenty years and was a judge until 2008. He has written many novels and biographies and first book, Stinie: Murder on the Common, was shortlisted for the Gold Dagger Nonfiction Award by the Crime Writers’ Association. He now divides his time between London and France. In The Prince The Princess and The Perfect Murder the author’s lengthy account of Marguerite’s trial is magnificent. However, in much of the book, the narrative flow is frequently held up by detailed research. Nonetheless, Marguerite Alibert was well worth examining, It also shows The then Prince of Wales in a most unflattering light. This is an interesting book, but it is quite a heavy read for a rather thin volume. However, if you are interested in that period in history or in the history of the royal family, I do highly commend it.
Other biographies reviewed on this site include: Black Like Me https://bookreviewstoday.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/black-like-me-…howard-griffin/, https://bookreviewstoday.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/the-islamist-by-ed-hussain/, Tuesdays With Morrie https://bookreviewstoday.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/tuesdays-with-…by-mitch-albom/, I Don’t Mean To Be Rude But…https://bookreviewstoday.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/i-dont-mean-to…y-simon-cowell/.
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- Tagged: Ali Kamel Fahmy bey, Andrew Rose, biographies, Crime Writers' Association, Gold Dagger Nonfiction Award, King Edward VIII, Marguerite Alibert, Prince of Wales, Stinie: Murder on the Common, The Prince The Princess and The Perfect Murder, Valerie Penny, World War I