One piece was discovered in a strongbox that had lain forgotten at Drummonds Bank at Trafalgar Square for decades after Alice’s own death.It contained a fortune in jewellery, most of it gifts from the King to Alice.Almost from the day she married the Hon George Keppel, third son of the 7th Earl of Albemarle, and discovered he was not the millionaire she had imagined, Alice was determined to be rich.She would get money by the only means open to her: the sale of her body to wealthy men.The great-grandmother was the most celebrated courtesan of the age, who became one of the richest women in Europe by sleeping with some of the world’s most influential aristocrats and tycoons . I have interviewed the servant who witnessed her antics — and I can now disclose her astonishing story in full for the first time. When she met the future king she was 29, dazzlingly good-looking, famously witty, and already had a reputation as a woman with a voracious sexual appetite who expected lavish rewards for her favours.‘Love is all very well,’ she liked to say, ‘but money is better.’Mrs Keppel became the Prince of Wales’s mistress in 1898 and remained his favourite until his death 12 years later.
But Bertie, as he was known to friends, was far from being the first wealthy man Mrs Keppel seduced for his money.One diamond-encrusted brooch with a nautical theme came with a saucily suggestive note in the monarch’s own hand: ‘Position quarterly and open.His private secretary, Sir Francis Knollys, destroyed mountains of letters and private papers in a bonfire that lasted days.But fragments of evidence have survived the intervening century to tell a fascinating story.
Alice had two children, but her husband was father of neither — the first, Violet, was the daughter of an MP and banker named Ernest Beckett, and the second, Sonia, was almost certainly the child of the King himself.
The Royal Family did all they could, after his death in 1910, to destroy evidence of Edward VII’s long affair with Alice.