Maggie Meller, the Murdering Princess
Updated: Mar 27, 2019
Marguerite Alibert was born in 1890 into a French family of limited means- her father worked as a cab driver and her mother was a maid. When her younger brother was four years old he was killed by a lorry. Maggie, who was babysitting him, was blamed for her sibling’s death and was was sent to boarding school. At 15, Marguerite was hired as a servant in a bourgeois home, but got fired a year later for getting pregnant. She sent her daughter, Raymonde, to live in the French countryside.
Having lost her job and her child, Marguerite turned to sex work to make a living- a brothel owner, Madame Denart, took her under her wing. Under the madam's tutelage, Alibert became a high class courtesan and catered to a wealthy, aristocratic clientèle.
When Alibert was 17, she met the 40 year old André Meller, who bought her an apartment. While they never married, Marguerite nevertheless took his last name. In 1917, Marguerite was introduced to Prince Edward VIII, with whom she had a passionate liaison. They wrote each other adoring letters for a while, but Edward lost interest after a year.
In 1919, Marguerite married Charles Laurent, a young airforce officer whose family owned the Hotel Crillon and a large department store in the Grand Magasins du Louvre. She divorced him 6 months later, and received a substantial divorce settlement.
In 1921, Marguerite met the Egyptian Aristocrat Ali Kamel Fahmy Bey. He was immediately smitten, and, against his family’s misgivings, proposed to the courtesan. She was initially hesitant to say yes, but ultimately accepted to marry him. Their marriage was miserable. Ali expected his wife to be a submissive and obedient, and Marguerite was accustomed to being highly independent. They fought constantly, and Marguerite stated that he was physically abusive to her.
In 1923, Ali and Marguerite were on a trip to London, and the pair had yet another violent fight. In the middle of the night, Marguerite shot Ali with a pistol that she had been keeping under her pillow. The police arrested the former courtesan, and she was sent to jail.
Years before she killed her husband, Marguerite had tried to blackmail Prince Edward by claiming that she had kept all of the scandalous letters he had sent her. Before the murder trial, she brought the blackmail tactic back into play.
According to author Andrew Rose, who wrote a book on the whole affair: "We think there are about 20 letters...which are wildly indiscreet. He’s said things about the conduct of the War that might have been misinterpreted, he’s made rude remarks about his father, and there’s commonly a sexual content in them as well. They are not the kind of letters that he would have wanted the world to know about."
During her trial in September 1923, crowds lined around the building to watch. People would send servants to save them seats, and some even paid for a place to sit in the courtroom. Mostly because of Marguerite's former job as a courtesan - and her connection to the British Royal Family - her trial became something of an event.
The letters she had been holding on to from Prince Edward, not to mention her own past, would have been incredibly damaging for the English Royal Family, and they were ready to do anything to keep the story away from the public. There was a deal made with officials in the court, and her past was not allowed to be brought up during her trial - this insured that Prince Edward was not mentioned. Instead, they painted a picture of her dead husband that was so vile (and racist) that the jury let her go with no convictions.
Marguerite returned to Paris to live out the rest of her life. She played small parts in movies, and continued to charm wealthy men until she eventually backed away from the public spotlight. She died at the age of 80, still carrying the title of Princess. She had succeeded in making affairs into a business - after she died, her grandson found that her lavish lifestyle had been funded by settlements from five different men.
Belinda Goldsmith's "Sex, murder and conspiracy sheds new light on Edward VIII-Book"