I have written about King Edward VII before and how he had penchant for practical jokes and enjoyed being un-king-like. The sombre presentation and the seriousness of his duties were not for him. He wanted to have fun. So, what made him act like this? It was a common problem for many people, royal or not. And it was blamed on his parents. He was the son of Queen Victoria and Albert. As a result of the Queen being a very serious monarch, at least, when her duties demanded it of her, she limited what Edward could do and how to behave.
King Edward VII
So, when Victoria passed away and Edward became king, he felt like he was at last being let off the lead. No more would he have to tow the line; he was a king and could do what he liked. Now, there’s a recipe for a potential number of problems. Being at the beginning of the twentieth-century, the monarch could not be seen to be associated with any form of scandal. Now, that set a big challenge for his courtiers to manage.
So, what did he get up to? You name it and he possibly might did. His dalliances included eating, drinking to excess, shooting animals and having affairs with many women. All of this had to be kept under wraps. And so, elaborate plans were put in place to keep him out of the public gaze when he was up to his fun. For example, the famous meat restaurant in Covent Garden, Rules, was a favourite of his. Unfortunately, he often took one of his mistresses with him.
So, a special side door was constructed which led into a private dining room just for the king and his “company.” A similar thing had to be done when the king went to the theatre. He was always given a box for him and his mistress which was set back from the rest of the audience, making it very hard to see who was in there.
But Edward’s eccentricities went further. He had a big passion for fire engines, so much so, that he would at times pay a visit to a fire station at 13 Rupert Street in Soho. That’s fine you might say. What’s wrong with paying a visit to a place where you have an interest? Fair enough, but I said he went inside as the king. But then he would leave the station dressed as a fireman. And what’s more, he would be sitting on top of one of the fire engines as it went on a call. This wasn’t a one-off. It has been reported that he continued to do this up until he died.