Albert Victor Christian Edward was born in 1864, the first son of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales
. He was second in line to the throne at the time of his birth. From 1871 onwards he was tutored, along with his younger brother, Prince George of Wales, in academics as well as military drills. He was noted as being a particularly slow student, and while he could speak Danish, his mastery of other languages was limited, as was his progress in other academic subjects. When he was 13 he and his brother were sent to the HMS Britannia
to be trained by the Royal Navy
. They arrived two months late because Eddy had contracted typhoid fever, for which he was treated by Sir William Gull
. In 1879 the brothers embarked on a three-year world tour on the HMS Bacchante
. A year into this tour, at the age of 16, he was rated midshipman. On the tour they visited all the corners of the British Empire. He returned to the United Kingdom
when he was 18.
In 1883, Eddy attended Trinity College, Cambridge. His tutor while there was James Kenneth Stephen
, who has been alleged at various times to be a misogynist, to be emotionally attached to Eddy, though the degree of homosexual feeling in the relationship, if any, is unknown. Unsurprisingly, Eddy was disinterested in the academic life of the university, and was excused from exams. He briefly spent some time studying German
at the University of Heidelberg, and left Cambridge in 1885 to become an officer in the 10th Hussars. In March of 1887 he had passed examinations, was posted to Hounslow and promoted to captain.
In 1889 a male brothel operating on Cleveland Street in London
was uncovered by Scotland Yard
. A number of high-ranking people were implicated in the scandal, and since homosexuality was illegal at the time, faced everything from ostracism to imprisonment. Rumors circulated in the upper echelons of London society that Eddy was involved in the scandal in some way, probably as a client. He was never named by the rent boys or the pimps as one of the clients of the brothel. Despite this, the accusation has led some to suggest that Eddy may have been homosexual, or at least bisexual. Most contemporaries did not agree with these beliefs, and the highest ranking man implicated, Lord Arthur Somerset, claimed that while he had heard the rumors he did not believe they were true.
In November of 1889 Eddy arrived in India
for a seven-month tour. It was claimed that this trip was to avoid association with the scandal, but in fact had been planned for several months. While there he was entertained by several maharajahs and carried out extensive hunting. He returned to England and received the titles of Duke of Clarence and Avondale and Earl of Athlone on May 24th, 1890.
In 1889 he proposed to Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine, but she rejected him and later married Tsar Nicholas II
. In 1890 he fell in love with Princess Helene of Orleans, who also loved him. Queen Victoria
was initially opposed to the match, but consented after the couple told her about their love. However, her father also opposed the match and refused to relent, and their relationship soon ended. At around this time Eddy was treated by several doctors for what was describe in letters as "fever" or "gout", but which has been speculated as being a venereal disease, possibly gonorrhea, though this is not corroborated by any evidence. He was also alleged to be the victim of blackmail from two prostitutes, but this was probably a hoax. In 1891 he claimed in a letter that he was in love again, but did not indicate with whom. In December of that year he proposed to Princess Mary of Teck
, who was favoured by the Queen. They were set to be married On February 27th, 1892
Shortly after becoming engaged to Mary, he fell ill with the influenza that was sweeping the nation. He developed pneumonia and died on January 14th, 1892. The nation and the royal family was shocked, and fell into mourning. In the wake of his death conspiracy theories sprung up, suggesting he had died of syphilis, was poisoned or pushed off a cliff, or hadn't died at all and had faked his death in order to be removed from succession. All of these theories were false.
Jack the Ripper?
The allegations of Eddy being Jack the Ripper
, or being somehow the cause of the murders, were first made in 1962 in Phillippe Jullien's book Edouard VII
. It was alleged that Eddy had contracted syphilis, and carried out the crimes as his mental state deteriorated. The allegations of what is known as the "royal conspiracy" first appeared in Stephen Knight's 1976 book Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution
. This theory basically held that the murders were conducted to cover up the fact that Eddy had fallen in love with, and married, Catholic shop girl Annie Crook
, who bore his daughter in 1885. The affair was discovered in April of 1888, and Sir William Gull, a Freemason
, was contracted to remove any witnesses to the relationship. These witnesses were, of course, four of the five women who were killed in the canonical Ripper murders. The other woman, Catherine Eddowes
, was apparently killed by accident, as she was mistaken for Mary Kelly
Both theories are full of holes and not considered to be strong theories. The first theory has been disproved both by the fact that the syphilitic progression does not follow the course of Eddy's illness, as well as by the fact that he wasn't in London for any of the murders. The second theory is disproved by the fact that Eddy was not in England at the time of his supposed daughter's conception, the home at which the two supposedly lived had been demolished prior to April 1888, and the fact that not only did none of the women involved know one another, but even if they had come forward with their story they almost certainly would not have been believed. Despite this the royal conspiracy has been the explanation presented in a number of fictional works, most notably Alan Moore's From Hell