Editor’s Column: The Early Demise of Young Gay Prince Eddy on World Wars 1 & 2

Chapter 2 of a New Book (Serialized)

It has been my ongoing study of the alternative identity and disposition issues of non-male-supremacist gay men in Western culture (see my book, “Extraordinary Hearts: Reclaiming Gay Sensibility’s Central Role in the Progress of Civilization,” Lethe Press, 2015, twice No. 1 best seller under Gay Studies at Amazon, and hailed by the late gay pioneer Larry Kramer) which led me to  obvious for me questions about the relationship between the life and premature death of a young gay member of the British royal family known at Prince Eddy, in line to become King of England and, in the wake of his death at age 28 in 1892, the unfolding of terrible events came to savage the civilized world over the subsequent half-century and longer.

Eddy, as I shall call him in this work (though more properly known as Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward Windsor, Duke of Clarence) insofar, as he was born to be a future king, was being groomed under the watchful eye of his grandmother, Queen Victoria. She wished him to be an elegant and kind monarch, quite unlike his brutish father, Victoria’s eldest son, who became King Edward VII, who ruled from 1901 to 1910, or Eddy’s younger brother, who became King George V, ruling from 1910 to 1934.

Eddy, by all accounts, was “different” in ways we, in this day, can much better appreciate. Everything about the descriptions of his demeanor and behavior growing up underscore the fact that he was gay, exhibited gay sensibilities and was not interested in the trappings of the male chauvinist culture that defined that day (and this). It is the dominant male chauvinist culture that can be properly blamed for the unspeakable excesses that led to the two world wars and related horrors, the Spanish flu epidemic and genocide in Nazi Germany.

Eddy, as the young man who would become king, was immensely popular with the British public, despite what some of his detractors saw as evidence of shortcomings, but today we’d recognize ways in which his inborn creative gay sensibilities were being expressed.

In this context, it cannot go unnoticed that the Rev. John Neale Dalton, the man hired to be his personal tutor in Eddy’s youth, had as perhaps his closest friend none less than Edward Carpenter, who became the period’s greatest proponent of a fledgling, new appreciation of the virtues of homosexuality and generally regarded among historians of the LGBTQ movement as an early, seminal pioneer.

Carpenter, as a young Cambridge graduate, himself had been offered the job earlier by Queen Victoria in 1871, but turned it down as his career was undergoing a major change toward the so-called “New Thought” movement arising in that time.

The parameters of the “New Thought” movement would not have been approved as suitable for a mentor of Eddy (nor his younger brother) by the Queen, But in Dalton, himself likely gay, it filtered directly through by way of Dalton’s long and ongoing close friendship with Carpenter, initiated when both were students at Cambridge. Late in life, Dalton wrote that Carpenter’s “tireless campaigning for some sort of socialist-homosexual brotherhood left an enduring influence on my mental and moral outlook.” Dalton was Eddy’s primary mentor for 14 years until Eddy’s untimely death.

The “New Thought” movement of the latter half of the 19th century was powerful and fully in sync with the emergence of the Gilded Age of invention and economic growth, the Art Nouveau and Romantic movements in the arts and music, Hindu mysticism, and the socialist ideals of William Morris. It advocated a kinder and gentler world, and Prince Eddy was clearly a choice candidate for it, unlike either his father or younger brother.

Queen Victoria, Eddy’s grandma, was reportedly “especially indulgent toward Eddy. She considered his manners charming, his consideration for servants admirable and his lethargy (i.e. laid back style-ed.) soothing. She was delighted to see that he was showing no signs of emulating his father’s restless and licentious way of life” after spending a period of his early teens with his brother at sea.

As for the usual diversions of male dominated culture, “Eddy really has no inclination that way,” wrote his mom to Victoria. 

(To be continued)