Women and Children First, III: The Prince

Women and Children First, III: The Prince

By Melissa Tawn
Could the heir to the throne of England be transgendered? Havelock Ellis and Leonard Stout have to find out.


AUTHOR’S NOTE I am afraid that you have to read the first two installments of this story in order to understand what is going on. Havelock Ellis and the Duke of Windsor were, of course, real persons but all actions and conversations attributed to them in this story are purely fictional. The rumors about the Duke of Windsor’s gender behavior have surfaced from time to time, but the author has no reason to believe that they are in fact valid, and is using them here merely as a literary device. They are not to be taken as an assertion of fact.


The news of the marriage of Elizabeth and Leonard was warmly received by Elizabeth’s sisters, as one can imagine. Margaret and her husband attended the wedding but Anne, busy learning that the title of Duchess of Sheffield also entailed considerable duties in postwar England, was not able to come. Instead, she invited the couple to come visit her in Britain.

Leonard really wanted to travel to Europe. He was very anxious to talk to Dr. Havelock Ellis and to present Henrietta’s story to him. In return, he hoped to be able to look at the many case studies that Dr. Ellis must have collected over the years. On the other hand, having survived the Titanic disaster made both Elizabeth and Leonard reluctant, to say the least, to hazard another crossing of the Atlantic by ship. Finally, the vision of the future overcame the fear of the past, and they decided to do it.

Elizabeth’s first idea was to book a place on the RMS Carpathia, the ship which had rescued both of them. However, it turned out that the Carpathia had been sunk during the Great War while serving as a troop ship. They finally settled on another Cunard liner, the RMS Aquitania, which was considered to be the most beautiful of all of the four-stack ocean liners. (Author’s note: In fact, the Aquitania was known as the “lucky ship”; it served as an ocean liner until it was scrapped in 1950, having the distinction of being one of the few such ships to survive service as a troop ship in both world wars, crossing the submarine-infested North Atlantic many times, without a scratch.)

Elizabeth’s sister Anne, now Duchess of Sheffield, met them at the dock in Southampton, full of hugs, kisses, and stories about her life among the aristocracy. Her husband, Bill, insisted that he would not sit around the house and mope (or go to ghastly parties and hunts with other bored members of his class) and so used his connections and his reputation as a war hero to get a job with the Ministry of Defense. He claimed that all he did was push paper from one side of his desk to another, but Anne was sure that it was really something terribly important and hush-hush, which he couldn’t tell her about, since she was a “colonial”, after all. Anne took over whatever ceremonial duties were expected of them, and showed up at all of the necessary charity events which they were expected to attend. Elizabeth noticed that Anne had begun to cultivate a distinct British accent, but didn’t say anything.

Anne had invited Elizabeth and Leonard to come to her country home not far from Oxford, but Leonard was anxious to meet with Dr. Ellis, who lived in Paddington, as soon as possible and so Anne gave them the use of the town house in London, which was empty at the moment (except, of course, for the maid, butler, gardener, and cook).

Dr. Ellis, who did not actually practice medicine though he did have a medical degree, was married to writer Edith Lees, well-known as a lesbian, and lived apart from her in his own apartment. He, himself, was quite heterosexual, and had several affairs with well-known women, including birth-control crusader Margaret Sanger. It was a most unusual marriage. He was delighted when Leonard came to visit him and even more so when Leonard told him the story of Henrietta (born Henry) and her decision to go down with the Titanic rather than face being forced to continue her life as a male. Certainly, this was just the sort of case study he was looking for, though of course he would not publish it, since that might damage Leonard’s thesis. He listened to the story with rapture and asked very many probing questions about Henrietta’s life.

When Dr. Ellis found out that Leonard was staying in the town house of the Duke of Sheffield, and that his wife and the Duchess were sisters, he was even more astonished. He then sank into thought and then told Leonard that he would like to meet him again and talk further, but that, unfortunately, he will be very busy for the next few days. In the meantime, he would be glad to lend Leonard several case files he had collected over the years, and which Leonard would be sure to find interesting. In a few days, they would hopefully have time for a long discussion of these cases, as well as some more theoretical, points.

Leonard, indeed, spent the next few days going over the files which Dr. Ellis was kind enough to lend him. From a research point of view, they were a pure gold mine, and allowed him to bolster some of the points he intended to make in his thesis. He and Elizabeth also had time for some sightseeing, but they found that the ghost of Henrietta and the memories of their previous visit seemed to pervade the city. Here is where she fed the pigeons in Trafalgar Square; there is where she skipped down the walks in Hyde Park. They were seeing the city through the eyes of the teenage girl who, more than they could imagine, was shaping their present and their future.

Four days passed before a letter from Dr. Ellis arrived, asking Leonard to meet him not in his home in Paddington but at a certain location in Regent’s Park. When Leonard arrived there, he was surprised to find that Dr. Ellis was accompanied by another man, whom he introduced as being a government official who would like to talk to Leonard in private. Dr. Ellis then excused himself and left, while the man then motioned to an empty park bench and sat down. It all seemed a trifle mysterious.

“Let me come right to the point,” the man said. “I am Sir Reginald McKay, confidential secretary of the Prime Minister. In the terms you Americans use, I am in charge of the government’s “shovel brigade”, cleaning up the messes caused by major public figures, hopefully before somebody steps in them. At the moment, I am involved in an extremely delicate matter about which I approached Dr. Ellis a few weeks ago. He thinks that you, of all people, are in a unique position to help us, and I tend to agree. I am going to outline the problem to you without, for the moment, telling names, and then explain what we want of you. Let me emphasize, however, that the matter is extremely secret and that not a word of this conversation must leak out to anyone.

There is a high-ranking person, let me for the moment call him David, who is in a position to become even of higher rank in the near future. That person is very popular with the people and the press, but his private life, especially his behavior with women, has been very bothersome and has caused the government much concern. He seems to deliberately seek out and have affairs with foreign married women of the dominating type, whom he allows to have great influence over his decisions and actions, both public and private. They also seem to influence the political positions he takes publically, something which has embarrassed His Majesty’s government more than once.

Based on what we have heard from several sources, we have reason to believe that in his childhood, David suffered from what Dr. Ellis, and you, call “eonism”. This behavior had been found out and prohibited by his parents and that his current philandering is apparently a reaction to that prohibition. We would like Dr. Ellis to have a talk with David, and try to discern whether this presumption is true, and give us an opinion as to the suitability of David to continue in public life. However, because of Dr. Ellis’ rather … sordid … reputation, it is impossible for the two of them to meet in any place where they are likely to be seen, especially by members of the press, who follow David around constantly.

Here is where you come in, by being a bridge in some sense between them. We would like you to talk to your sister-in-law, the Duchess of Sheffield, and ask her if she can put at your disposal, for a period of one week, one of their more remote properties, say her husband’s hunting and fishing lodge in Scotland. David would certainly have a legitimate reason to go on a vacation with the Duke, and Dr. Ellis could be brought there without anyone knowing about it.

You will not be allowed to be present at that meeting, or even see David. However, in return for your help, we are willing to allow you to discuss the case with Dr. Ellis, should you wish, and to use whatever data you want from these discussions in your research, on the condition that the identities of the people involved are sufficiently disguised.”

“Of course I am willing to cooperate,” replied Leonard, “and promise total secrecy. But I need to know the real name of the person involved, and I need to be able to tell that name to the Duke and Duchess of Sheffield, if need be.” “We can allow that,” Sir Reginald replied. “I will also need to tell my wife, who acts as my research associate,” Leonard continued. Sir Reginald hesitated for a few seconds, but finally agreed to that too.

“The person involved,” he was told, “is Edward, Duke of Windsor and Prince of Wales, our future monarch.” Leonard swallowed hard. He had not expected this. “Why did you call him David?” he asked, more to relieve the tension of the moment. “His full name is Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David,” the man replied, “and he is known as David to his family.” Sir Reginald then gave him a card with a confidential telephone number, which he was asked to ring when the matter was settled, one way or the other.

After Sir Reginald left, Leonard just sat alone, stunned. Could the popular heir to the throne of England be an eonist? It was hard to believe. Finally, he pulled himself together and returned to Portman Square, where he told his Elizabeth what had transpired. He also rang up Anne and Bill Percy, and asked them to come down to London urgently. The next day, when they arrived, and after swearing everyone to secrecy, Leonard related what Sir Reginald had told him. Elizabeth and Anne were just as stunned as he had been, but Bill, the Duke, reacted very calmly. “We actually had a meeting at the Ministry a few weeks ago about the Prince of Wales’ philandering and the possible compromises to national security which it might entail, and minuted the PM about it. It is jolly good, really, to see that he actually reads the material we send him. I would not have guessed anything about this eonism business, but now that I remember it, Edward often did take girls’ roles in the various plays and musicals we put on at Eton (but then, the younger boys are often forced to do that).

Sir Reginald McKay is just the person to deal with this affair; he is really awfully good at scooping up the poop dropped from high places before anyone notices it and sometimes even before it plops. The idea of using Dr. Ellis must surely be his, for he has contacts at all strata of society and I can well imagine him knowing Havelock Ellis quite well. Of course, we shall cooperate in any way possible. I shall ring up the caretaker of the lodge immediately to let him know that I will be coming up there with a visitor shortly.” (The “lodge”, by the way, is not a small cabin as the name might imply; it is in fact a 15-bedroom Victorian mansion in the remote highlands. Its nearest neighbor is another similar “lodge”, 30 miles away, owned by Lord Rothschild, who was known to be out of the country for the next several months.)

Leonard rang up Sir Reginald and, within a few days, the entire machinery was set in motion. The palace issued a routine bulletin to the effect that from such-and-such a date, HRH the Prince of Wales would vacationing at the lodge of his cousin, the Duke of Sheffield. The two aristocrats set out for Scotland in the Prince’s private railway carriage, after joking with reporters in London and again in Glasgow, where they transferred to the Duke’s private saloon automobile. A day later, Dr. Havelock Ellis set out for Glasgow by second-class railway carriage, a totally undistinguished and unnoticed traveler. At the station, he was met by two representatives of Sir Reginald, who bundled him into a waiting anonymous-looking automobile and left Glasgow with a total lack of fanfare and attention.

The staff at the lodge prepared for the arrival of the Prince and the Duke. They were also told that a “Dr. Harrington” would be staying there too in order to treat the Prince for a “disease of a rather intimate nature” and that their total discretion was expected. Indeed, the Duke stayed mostly in his study — preparing a major report for the ministry, he explained — while “Dr. Harrington” and the Prince met for long hours in the Prince’s room or, occasionally, walked the grounds together. No hunting or fishing seems to have taken place. Finally, an automobile came to take Dr. Ellis away and, two days later, the Prince and the Duke returned to Glasgow and traveled in the Prince’s private railway carriage back to London.

For the next week, Leonard sat hours on end with Dr. Ellis, and pored over the notes of his meetings with the Prince and working very hard on drafting a comprehensive report to Sir Reginald. The parents of the Prince of Wales, then Duke and Duchess of York, had been quite removed from the actual upbringing of their children, as was the custom of the late nineteenth century. He had been essentially brought up by a series of nannies, and saw his parents only infrequently and for short periods of time. As with Henrietta, young David wore skirts until he was toilet-trained, this in his case came very late, after the age of 3. He did not like wearing pants and often rebelled against it. In the privacy of the nursery, one of the nurses, May O’Brien, took pity on him and often let him dress up in dresses. She would also play with him, pretending he was a girl. During these “play” times, she would call him the Golden Princess of Pompadiddle and they would make up fairy tales in which he would take a leading role. The memories of those play sessions were strongly etched in his memory and, even today, he could recite large portions of those roles by heart. Unfortunately, when the Prince was near the age of six, his parents found out about these harmless games and were furious. His mother, formerly Danish Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, summarily dismissed May O’Brien and forbad all such dressing-up play in the nursery. Young David swallowed this medicine, but with a grimace. During his youth, he seized every opportunity to dress up in girls’ clothes, whether it was through theatricals or other means.

When he became an adult, the Prince managed to locate and gain entrance to one of those very exclusive and shadowy clubs in London, in which men indulge themselves by dressing as women. On the outside, however, he maintained the life of an aristocratic playboy, and had various (often publicized) relationships with women, all of whom were of a very domineering type and foreign-born. Most were also married. In point of fact, these women all bore an eerie resemblance in character to his mother.

Leonard and Dr. Ellis were unsure whether the Prince’s behavior represented true eonism or whether it was just a way of getting back at his parents. In considering this point, they had several long discussions on the ways of verifying eonism and isolating it from other possibly-similar phenomena. In the final report they drafted, they suggested that Sir Reginald might consider calling upon the services of Herr Doktor Freud of Vienna — with whom Dr. Ellis was in contact and could provide an introduction -- though they were skeptical that such a move would succeed, given the Prince’s known strongly negative feelings about Jews.

Sir Reginald was very pleased with the report, and promised that it would be acted upon in the best interests of the nation. (Author’s historical note: The health of King George V was better than was feared in the 1920’s. Edward, Prince of Wales, finally ascended to the throne upon the death of his father in January 1936; Prime Minister Baldwin, nervous about the new King’s repeated intervention in political matters and rather pro-fascist views, forced a constitutional crises which ended in Edward VIII’s abdication in December of that year.) He was sorry that he could not publically thank Dr. Ellis for his work, but promised to have a word with the Lord Chief Justice to make sure that there would be no more attempts by the courts to stop the sales and distribution of his books. As for Leonard, a letter would be sent to his thesis advisor by the appropriate authority, informing him that His Majesty’s Government was most appreciative of certain advisory services that this brilliant young man had performed and that, once Leonard had obtained his degree, a visiting position at one of the Cambridge colleges could be arranged for him, should he desire to spend some more time in England. (Leonard laughed inside at what Bill Percy, an Oxford man, would think of that.)

Later, as Leonard thought about the Prince’s case, and about the several other cases in Dr. Ellis’ files which he was allowed to see, he had long discussions about them with Elizabeth. In particular, they compared the dry stories with Elizabeth’s recollections of her sister Henrietta and began to see many emerging patterns. In the end, Leonard formulated a series of general statements about eonism, which became the fundamental axioms of his work:

(1) Eonism is either inborn or develops during the first year of life.
(2) Once eonism is detected in a child, it is impossible to eradicate by prohibitions or strict limitations on behavior; any attempt to do that will just drive it underground, from where it will eventually emerge.
(3) The best way to deal with eonism in a child is through love and understanding.
(4) The best way to deal with eonism in an adult is through acceptance.

Leonard felt strongly that eonists should be treated with sympathy and understanding, and a social framework should be found that would allow them to express their true selves. He decided that, when he returned to the United States, he would set up a framework in which that will happen. At the same time, he would also try to locate young surgeons who would understand, in the hope of exploring surgical techniques that could change a physical male into a close semblance of a physical female. He clearly saw his life’s work ahead of him.

On the deck of the liner taking the Stouts back to the United States (they again chose the Aquitania), Elizabeth mused about her sister Henrietta and the ripples that her untimely death had caused in the lives of so many people. Henrietta did not sacrifice herself in vain, for the result would be a new ray of hope for hundreds, maybe thousands, of girls like her, who would otherwise never have had a chance.

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