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Could Jack the Ripper Actually Have Been a Royal?

Victorian Era | June 6, 2018

Illustration shows the police discovering the body of one of Jack the Ripper's victims, probably Catherine Eddowes, London, England, late September 1888. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

During the 1800s in London, England, the fog would get so bad they called it a “pea-souper”. You couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of you. This fog was mostly due to the combination of natural fog and coal smoke and could last for days. It continued through the 1800s.

We’ve all heard the stories of Jack the Ripper, a British unidentified serial killer in England during that time. It was believed that he would strike, killing his victims in the poor areas in the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. Whitechapel is in the East End of London, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

At least 5 women had been known to fall victim to this madman. No one knew who he was, where he’d strike again or who would be his next victim. However, one common thread these women shared was prostitution and they lived in London’s East End. The murders were bloody and horrific. Each of his victims were found not only with their throats cut but their internal organs were also removed. This of course, spread fear throughout the area. It is believed his killing spree started in 1888 and came to a halt four years later in 1891.

Not only was this madman referred to as Jack the Ripper, but along the way also became known by other nicknames, such as Leather Apron, The Whitechapel Murderer.

A man by the name of Dr. Thomas Stowell was said to have been the one to link Jack the Ripper’s gruesome murders to Prince Albert who was rumored to have frequently visited the area where the prostitutes would gather and suffered from some sort of sexually transmitted disease like gonorrhea or syphilis. Also underlying this fact is the prince murdered the prostitutes after being driven mad by syphilis.

Prince Albert had been the topic of many sleazy conversations throughout his life. Among the rumors suggested that the prince might have been gay. In 1889, just one year after the “Ripper” killings, he was accused of being linked to the "Cleveland Street Scandal." London’s Cleveland street was the location of a gay brothel and where some high-ranking notables in British society were seen.

Other theories suggested by journalists like Stephen Knight and others claim he had been involved with a simple shop assistant in Whitechapel, secretly marrying her and had fathered a daughter. Adding to the scandal was the notion that Queen Victoria, Prime Minister Lord Salisbury, his Freemason friends and the Met Police worked together in killing anyone who knew of Prince Albert Victor's alleged offspring.

Four years since the Ripper killings began, Prince Albert died in 1892. Could he have been eliminated by the Queen’s established order? This order was due to his inappropriateness to hold such a high position as the future king of England and also to make way for his brother, King George V? Some say yes.

In 1885 during the time Prince Albert was training to be an army officer, he apparently wrote letters to his doctor describing that he was suffering from a side effect caused by gonorrhea, according to recently discovered letters believed to be Prince Albert’s handwriting. In them, he requests additional medication saying in his letter: "I think I had better go on taking them for a bit. I still continue to have this tiresome glete which comes on at times, although at present it has stopped."

Other evidence along this same idea are two hand-written letters by the prince to his doctor divulging information that he was suffering from at least one sexually transmitted disease known as gonorrhea. These recent findings of the letters prove that the prince did indeed suffer from sort of sexually transmitted disease which supported the belief he often visited prostitutes.

However, this begs the question, were all the Ripper killings linked to him specifically or perhaps a copycat killer who envied the Prince and his notoriety? When two other women, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes were found dead, the prince had an alibi. He apparently was at Balmoral in Scotland which is 500 miles away and couldn’t have been in two places at once.  

The famous Whitechapel Street, London

Other rumors that spread was that of Prince Albert’s tutor from Trinity College in Cambridge, James Kenneth Stephen. Stephen who later killed himself by starving to death after hearing of Prince Albert’s passing is said to have possibly been the prince’s lover or a once rejected lover and therefore could have committed the insane murders because of his jealousy and hatred of women.

Although there are letters and a lot of rumors surrounding Jack the Ripper, the questions and theories will most likely continue for centuries.

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Marion Wijnberg

Writer

Marion lives in Ohio and has two grown children and one grandson. As well as loving the time she gets to spend with them, she also enjoys rescuing animals. Marion currently has 2 cats and a dog. She also loves to travel, read, play tennis and go horseback riding."