Edward Mylius

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Edward Mylius was a French journalist jailed in 1911 for criminal libel for publishing a report that King George V of the United Kingdom was a bigamist.

Libel case[edit]

Mylius alleged in a Paris-based Republican paper The Liberator in 1910 that George V had been already married to Mary, the daughter of a British Admiral Sir Michael Culme-Seymour, while serving in Malta as a young man. This would have been not only scandalous but also illegal, contravening the Royal Marriages Act 1772.

Normally royalty avoid suing over lies told about them, but in a break with precedent. the King decided that in this case, he had no choice. The rumours accused him of the crime of bigamy, of breaking the law, and questioned both the legal status of the Queen and the legitimacy of all his children. The King, with the advice of home secretary Winston Churchill, issued proceedings against Mylius for criminal libel and said he was prepared to go into the box to disprove the allegations. Sir Rufus Isaacs, the attorney-general, advised the king that it would be unconstitutional for him to give evidence in his own court.

Mylius was arrested for criminal libel and tried before the Lord Chief Justice of England and a jury. Sir Richard David Muir, prosecuting, showed that the claims about the King were a complete fiction. It was shown

  • that he had not even been in Malta in 1890 when the supposed marriage took place;
  • that the admiral whose daughter he had supposedly married had two daughters, of whom:
    • one had never met the King;
    • and the other had met him only twice: once when she was eight years old and once when both he and she were already married.

Mylius was convicted and jailed for 12 months.[1]

The King recorded his feelings on the affair in his diary.

The whole story is a damnable lie and has been in existence now for over twenty years. I trust that this will settle it once and for all.[2]

His mother, Queen Alexandra, wrote to him

Thank God that vile trial is over and those infamous lies and foul accusations at an end for ever and cleared up before the whole world. To us it was a ridiculous story your having been married before ...! Too silly for words ... My poor Georgie - really it was too bad and must have worried you all the same.[3]

According to Freedom's Frontier (2007),[4] by Donald Thomas, an odd inconsistency later found was that the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle had reported a ball at Portsmouth Town Hall on 21 August 1891 (when the lady was aged about twenty), which both she and the future king attended.


  1. ^ BBC News website.
  2. ^ Harold Nicolson, King George V (Pan, 1967) p.200.
  3. ^ Nicolson, p.201.
  4. ^ ISBN 978-0-7195-5733-0

Further reading[edit]

  • The King's Honour: A criminal libel on the sovereign; verdict and sentence. The Times, 2 February 1911