The first in this series generated an interesting response from Readers in Comments, and I have to make a couple points before we look at the next one.
Firstly, verisimilitude: it is extraordinarily difficult to recreate the human face in a drawing or painting. A glance at any judicial court artist’s work should suffice, or those of the guys you see at state fairs who promise to render a decent portrait of your kids / girlfriend / wife. Most fail, abjectly, at the task. Portrait painters of yore were probably little different.
Several people commented on the beauty (or lack thereof) of the women; but even taking the above into account, we have to remember two things: beauty, as one Reader pointed out, is defined differently in different eras. What was considered “handsome” in Edwardian times would have been regarded in the 1920s “flapper” period as horribly overweight, whereas few men of Edwardian times would have looked with favor on those skinny, flat-chested flappers, who were clearly wasting away and not capable of producing heirs.
What we have to assume, therefore, is that the mistresses of kings were probably far more attractive (especially to the kings) than as depicted. It might also be that the women had attractions that had nothing to do with beauty: witty, waspish, skilled exponents of soixante-neuf, who knows? What they were was different to the various queens, very available (women are attracted to powerful men) and that’s probably all that it took.
Anyway, having mentioned the Edwardian era, let’s look at the first of the Edwards (Edward VII of Great Britain, after whom the 1902-1910 era was named), who was a renowned ladies’ man of prodigious sexual appetite. Here are but some of his bedmates:
Interestingly enough, Mrs. Keppel is the great-grandmother of the current Queen Camilla, herself the one-time mistress of Charles, Prince of Wales (and now King Charles III), and himself the great-great grandson of Edward VII.
Got all that? There will be a test. Next:
Jennie, Lady Spencer- Churchill
Then the actresses, among whom were:
…the Divine Sarah.
Moving along to the next Edward (VIII), who was famous, of course, for renouncing the throne because he was besotted with a married (later divorced) woman, one
However, our “David” (his family name) had been a very busy boy before Mrs. Simpson ever came on the scene, to wit:
Freda Dudley Ward
...who was, by the way, the first married woman he wanted to marry.
This French totty later shot and killed her husband, so he really could be said to have dodged a bullet here. Any man of experience can see that Teh Crazy is strong with this one.
…and, it was rumored, with her twin sister as well.
Sporting lot, these British kings. In the next of this series, we’ll go a little further back down the line, and this time, to the French guys.