Marguerite Marie Alibert
9 December 1890
|Died||2 January 1971(aged 80)|
|Other names||Maggie Meller|
|Known for||Being a prominent socialite; killing her husband|
|Spouse(s)||Ali Kamel Fahmy Bey|
Marguerite Marie Alibert (9 December 1890 – 2 January 1971), also known as Maggie Meller and Princess Fahmy, was a French socialite. She started her career as a courtesan in Paris and in 1916 she had an affair with the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII). After her marriage to Egyptian aristocrat Ali Kamel Fahmy Bey, she was frequently called Princess by the media of the time. In 1923, she killed her husband at the Savoy Hotel in London. She was eventually acquitted of the murder charge after a trial at the Old Bailey. Her affair with the Prince became the subject of the book The Prince, the Princess and the Perfect Murder. The killing of her husband was the focus of the book Scandal at the Savoy: The Infamous 1920s Murder Case.
Marguerite Marie Alibert was born on 9 December 1890, in Paris to Firmin Alibert, a coachman, and Marie Aurand, a cleaning lady. At the age of sixteen she gave birth to a daughter, Raymonde. In the following eight to ten years, Alibert led an itinerant life until she met Mme Denant who ran a Maison de Rendezvous, a brothel catering to a high society clientele. Under the tutelage of Denant, Alibert became a high-class prostitute.
Prince of Wales
Alibert met Edward, Prince of Wales in April 1917 at the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris. At the time, Edward was in France as an officer of the Grenadier Guards in the Western Front during WWI. Edward became infatuated with her and during their relationship he wrote many candid letters to her. Although the affair was intense while it lasted, by the end of the war Edward had broken off the relationship.
Ali Fahmy Bey became infatuated with Alibert when he first encountered her in Egypt while she was escorting a businessman. He saw her again several times in Paris and they were eventually formally introduced in July 1922. Following that meeting, they embarked on a tour of gambling and entertainment establishments in Deauville, Biarritz, and Paris. Fahmy returned to Egypt, but, soon after, he invited her to the country feigning illness and telling her that he could not live without her. They were married in December 1922 and had a formal Islamic wedding in January 1923.
Killing of Ali Fahmy
On 1 July 1923, the couple arrived in London for holidays. They stayed at the Savoy Hotel with their entourage consisting of a secretary, a valet and a maid. On 9 July, the couple and the secretary went to see the operetta The Merry Widow. Upon returning to the hotel, they had a late supper where they started one of their frequent arguments. At 2:30 a.m. on 10 July, Alibert shot her husband repeatedly from the behind, striking him in the neck, back, and head. She used a .32 calibre semi-automatic Browning pistol. The victim was transported to Charing Cross Hospital but died of his wounds in about an hour.
The trial opened on Monday 10 September 1923 with large numbers of people queuing to enter, including some who had waited since before daybreak. The trial lasted until Saturday 15 September. During the trial, Alibert presented herself as the victim of the "brutality and beastliness" of her "oriental husband". Alibert was defended by Edward Marshall Hall, one of the most famous British lawyers of that era. The trial judge disallowed any mention of Alibert's past as a courtesan, ensuring that the name of the Prince of Wales was never mentioned as part of the evidence during the trial. At the same time, Fahmy was described as "a monster of Eastern depravity and decadence, whose sexual tastes were indicative of an amoral sadism towards his helpless European wife". Alibert was acquitted of all charges.
After the trial, Alibert sued her late husband's family aiming to lay claim to his property. A court in Egypt rejected the verdict at the Old Bailey and dismissed her claim. She lived until the end of her life, in an apartment facing the Ritz in Paris. After her death, the few remaining letters from Edward, which she had kept as insurance, were destroyed by one of her close associates.
In the book The Prince, the Princess and the Perfect Murder it is speculated that the acquittal of Alibert of the charges for murdering her husband was part of a deal for returning the love letters of the Prince of Wales to him and a further guarantee by Alibert that Edward's name would not be mentioned in court.
- "Marie Marguerite FAHMY". Murderpedia.
- Lucy Bland (30 September 2013). Modern women on trial: Sexual transgression in the age of the flapper. Manchester University Press. pp. 142–143. ISBN 978-1-84779-896-1.
- Belinda Goldsmith (4 April 2013). "Sex, murder and conspiracy sheds new light on Edward VIII-Book". Reuters.
- Ian Graham (26 January 2016). Scarlet Women: The Scandalous Lives of Courtesans, Concubines, and Royal Mistresses. St. Martin's Press. pp. 183–185. ISBN 978-1-4668-6817-5.
- Andrew Rose (14 March 2013). The Prince, the Princess and the Perfect Murder. Hodder & Stoughton. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-4447-7648-5.
- "Scandal at the Savoy: The Infamous 1920's Murder Case".
- "The Perfect Murder" (Vol. 23/01). Royalty Magazine.
- Adrian Phillips (13 October 2016). The King Who Had To Go: Edward VIII, Mrs Simpson and the Hidden Politics of the Abdication Crisis. Biteback Publishing. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-78590-157-7.
- Bland (2013), p. 133.
- James Moore (2 February 2015). Murder at the Inn: A History of Crime in Britain's Pubs and Hotels. History Press. p. 170. ISBN 978-0-7509-6333-6.
- Richard Whittington-Egan (28 June 2011). Murder on File. Neil Wilson Publishing. pp. 131–132. ISBN 978-1-906476-53-3.
- Bland (2013), p. 134. "The trial at the Old Bailey opened on Monday 10th September and concluded the following Saturday. It was noted that of the huge numbers queuing to enter the court the majority were women,..."
- "The Prince, the Princess and the Perfect Murder by Andrew Rose". The Times.
People started queuing well before dawn on Monday, September 10, 1923.
- The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service. "Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) Decision notice" (PDF).
Marie Marguerite Fahmy, a French national, was charged with the murder of her husband Ali Kamel Fahmy bey on 10 July 1923. After a trial at the Central Criminal Court, Mme Fahmy was acquitted on 15 September 1923 on both counts of the indictment. The relevant Metropolitan Police file, MEP03/1589, was opened some years ago and is now available for public inspection at the National Archives.
- Tom Sykes (14 May 2013). "The King & the Courtesan: Inside Edward VIII's Steamy French Affair". The Daily Beast.
- Cheryl Stonehouse (5 April 2013). "A new book brings to light the scandalous story of Edward VIII's first great love". Sunday Express.
- Selina Hastings (13 April 2013). "BOOKS 'The Prince, the Princess and the Perfect Murder', by Andrew Rose – review". The Spectator.
- Benji Wilson (21 April 2013). "Edward VIII's Murderous Mistress: Was there a cover-up of Edward VIII's fling with a murderess?". The Telegraph.