The personal lives of monarchs are always incredibly interesting — especially when those monarchs are super into debauchery, like King Edward VII of England. Edward, also known as Bertie, was the son of Queen Victoria, and was the most epic playboy of his time. He was a regular Casanova, seducing women left and right, and sleeping with as many as he could. He even had special sex furniture, a chaise de volupté, made so he could rendezvous with numerous women at once.
The son and successor of Queen Victoria, known for her devotion to her husband Albert and the stereotype of rigidity associated with her time, might be the last person you would expect to get into all sorts of trouble, but Bertie was pretty good at it. From duels with Winston Churchill's father to an affair that may have killed his father, King Edward VII was a fascinating monarch.
Edward had been a lady's man from a young age, as evidenced by his first controversial affair at the tender age of 19, when he was able to sneak an Irish actress into his army tent. Young Bertie had been sent to the army by his parents, to knock some sense into their wild son, who couldn't seem to focus on his studies. When Bertie's fellow soldiers snuck actress Nellie Clifden into his quarters, his father had something to say about it. An angry Prince Albert wrote his son: "I knew that you were thoughtless and weak - but I could not think you depraved."
When Albert died of typhoid fever only a few weeks later, a distraught Queen Victoria blamed her own son, saying that Albert died of a broken heart caused by Bertie's behavior.
Of course, the ultimate playboy would have the best, and most unique, ways to engage in 'depraved' behavior, and the future King Edward VII was no exception. Bertie had his own room at the famous Parisian brothel La Chabanais, and in this room sat a copper bathtub decorated with half-swan, half-women. Bertie was known to enjoy bathing in the tub, which he filled with champagne and prostitutes. At least the man was creative.
In addition to the swan tub, Bertie had another piece of interesting furniture — the sex chair (more eloquently, a siege de amour, or love chair). This chair was commissioned directly by Bertie, and was made to accommodate his weight (which was so high later in life that his wife eventually nicknamed him 'tum tum') and his desire to pleasure more than one woman at once. The chair allowed Bertie to make love to two women at the same time, without really having to put much effort in at all.
The chair was designed with two brocade seats and two sets of bronze stirrups, and the set up was confounding, to say the least. History professor Richard Thomson said: "Goodness knows how it was to be used."
With as many affairs as Bertie had, he was bound to get in trouble for at least one of them (he got in trouble for more than one). One of the women Bertie slept with was none other than Jennie Churchill, a wealthy American girl and eventual mother of Winston Churchill. When her husband, Randolph, caught wind of the affair, he blackmailed Bertie, but the playboy prince was having none of that. He was so angry he challenged Churchill to a duel — luckily for Churchill, Bertie's father had made dueling illegal. Bertie resorted to banning Randolph and Jennie from society.