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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Lovely Lillie and Dirty Bertie

HRH Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, was a disappointment to his parents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, on various fronts – especially that of his scandalously inappropriate amours.

1 Lillie Langtry, c. 1885 W & D Downey. 2 H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, c. 1863 John & Charles Watkins.

Ever seen the family photos taken on Edward VII’s and Queen Alexandra’s 1863 wedding day? They’re hardly cheerful: everyone except the bride is wearing black and a stony face, especially Queen Victoria. The groom, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales – ‘Bertie’ to his family, and ‘Dirty Bertie’ to some – was heir to the throne. Trouble was, he was considered unfit for many official duties, and caused scandal with his weakness for ‘unsuitable’ women. The first of these dalliances, involving an actress smuggled into his tent in 1861, had instigated his parents’ search for an appropriate bride. Yet not even marriage to Princess Alexandra of Denmark changed his ways. His three-year affair with [married] socialite and actress Lillie Langtry, for example, was an open secret. Langtry was one of several reasons why the future Edward VII acquired a playboy reputation; his wife, meanwhile, became deeply admired for her dignity in the face of her husband’s indiscretions.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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