Royalty Involved In Scandal

Posted: May 23, 2009 in Cleveland Street Scandal
 Papers Bare a 1900 Sex Scandal That Involved British Royalty
LONDON (AP) – Queen Victoria’s family and government leaders of the day hushed up Buckingham Palace’s reported connection to a sex scandal that shocked Britain 75 years ago, according to official documents opened this week for the first time.
The scandal centred on a male homosexual brothel in London’s Cleveland Street allegedly frequented by Lord Arthur Somerset, equerry to the Prince of Wales, and other prominent men.
Details of the affair came to light when the director of public prosecutions opened relevant documents to public inspection. Until recently the department kept the wraps on official documents for 100 years.
The papers confirm rumors rife at the time that such leaders as the Prince of Wales and the prime minister, Lord Salisbury, prevented authorities – from prosecuting Lord Somerset. The Prince of Wales, the eldest son of Queen Victoria, became King Edward VII. The documents also revealed that officials at the time wrote that Lord Somerset’s attorney boasted that if the peer was taken to court "a very distinguished person will be involved – PAV." That referred to Prince Albert Victor, the black sheep among Queen Victoria’s children. The prince’s name had earlier been mentioned in the "Jack the Ripper" murders that terrorized London.
The documents do not mention Prince Albert further. They show the attorney general, the public prosecutor and the police commissioner wanted to prosecute Lord Somerset, who is referred to in the documents as "Mr. Brown," under stringent laws forbidding acts of "gross indecency" between male homosexuals.
However the then home secretary Lord Halsbury, plus Lord Salisbury and other leaders were against this, partly because of Lord Somerset’s position in society and partly because they feared other prominent Britons would be implicated.
The then assistant director of public prosecutions, H. Coffee, wrote that the Prince of Wales was "in a great state" and sent high powered emissaries to the prosecutor’s department and the police commissioners office on Lord Somerset’s behalf.
The Prince, Cuffee said, "didn’t believe a word of it and wished to concern himself to clear LAS (Lord Somerset)…and must have something settled."
Soon after, Somerset left the country – before an arrest warrant was issued.
The papers also include evidence that distinguished clients of the brothel tried to bribe the male prostitutes of Cleveland Street to go abroad before they could be called as witnesses.
The Times of London described the documents Tuesday as "an illuminating example of the Victorian high establishment closing ranks and pulling strings to protect its errant members."
The London Evening Standard quoted H. Montgomery Hyde, author of a 1970 book on the scandal, as saying that Lord Arthur Somerset left England for Boulogne, France, and subsequently to Constantinople, where I believe he offered his services to the sultan.
Hyde said the Prince of Wales wrote to Lord Salisbury expressing satisfaction that Lord Somerset had been allowed to leave but suggesting that if he ever dared return he should be permitted to only a brief visit to his parents. It is not known whether he ever returned.
Source: The Daily Press, Utica, Wed. March 12, 1975

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