The recent romantic news between England’s King Henry VIII and Germany’s imperial princess consort, Sophie, has drawn a lot of attention to the story of Elizabeth Taylor and her lover, Richard Burton. The media spotlight has been on their romance and their fabulous lives since the 1960s and beyond. While many people know about the story of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, few know the real-life love story that inspired the blockbuster film, Cleopatra. Here, we tell you about the real-life lovers who inspired the classic romantic film, Twilight.
Lizzy & Robert’s Real-Life Beginnings
The British royals were a favorite of the great Elizabeth Taylor and her stories often focused on their glamorous lives. Indeed, it was Elizabethen’s fascination with the House of Windsor that inspired her to write several romantic novels, including the blockbuster Cleopatra. While Richard Burton was best known for his acting career in films like The Fall Of The Roman Empire and The Wild Bunch, he too was a talented author of historical romances. Here, we explore the life and work of this influential couple.
A Dynasty Of Royal Romantics
Prince Henry of Wales was born on July 14th, 1895 in the suburb of Kensington in London, England. He was the first son of Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert. Having spent his childhood traveling around the world with his family, the young prince developed a keen interest in fashion, especially the styles of the French and Italian royal courts. As a young adult, he was a handsome and charismatic man with a magnetic personality. Despite his promising career as a military officer in the British Army, the charismatic prince decided to pursue a life of leisure. In 1917, at the age of 26, he left His Majesty’s Forces and traveled to Italy. While in Italy, he fell in love with an exotic dancer named Elizabeth Taylor. They were married on October 8th, 1922 at the age of 29 and had four children: Georgiana, Alice, Elizabeth, and John. In 1924, they spent their honeymoon in Cairo, Egypt where the prince became an accomplished pilot. While in Egypt, they visited the Pyramids, marveled at the Sphinx, and soaked up the culture. On their return to London, the couple renovated a 14th century manor house, Lansdowne, creating a splendid home that was described as, “an ode to style and beauty.”
An Entertaining Life
Prince Henry and Elizabeth were devoted to each other and their children. The couple entertained lavishly and were well-known for their lavish parties, often held at Kensington Palace. Their entertaining ways captivated London and the Prince became a frequent guest on BBC sitcoms, hosting one-off events and appearing in sketches. He also starred in his own BBC TV documentary, The Life And Loves Of Henry VIII. In addition to his TV work, Prince Henry wrote several books, including A Pocket Guide To Monarchs, which came out in 1945 and was reissued in 2006. In 1948, the devoted couple adopted a son, Thomas, later nicknamed “Twinny”, who shared their passion for fashion and was often seen in public wearing stylish ensembles of men’s and women’s shirts and tie-waist dresses. It was said that if Twinny wanted a dress, the royal couple would buy it for her. Unfortunately, Queen Elizabeth suffered a stroke in 1953 and the couple’s once-fabulous lifestyle took a turn for the worse. Despite their illnesses, Elizabeth and Henry continued to live a comfortable life, traveling around the world and enjoying the company of their children and grandchildren. In 1960, the 86 year old Henry was succeeded by his 31 year old son, Prince Charles, as King of Great Britain. Three years later, in 1963, Elizabeth suffered a fatal heart attack and was buried in the middle of a white gardenia grove at the London cemetery, Frogmore. She was 88 years old.
A Romantic Legacy
A year after his grandmother’s death in 1963, Charles, now King Charles III, married Jane, the daughter of the King George VI. The couple had three sons: Andrew, Edward, and Charles, who became Queen Charles. In 1967, King Charles married for a second time, to Samantha Eggar. Eggar gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth, before the couple’s divorce in 1970. The year after his wife’s death in 1975, the now-widower, King Charles, married for a third and final time, to a much-younger woman named Diana. In 1977, on the tenth anniversary of his grandmother’s death, Charles was awarded the highest honor that a British subject can achieve: the title of Duke of Edinburgh. The following year, he founded the Edinburgh International Festival, which continues to this day.
While great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, may not have been the most attentive grandmother when it came to her grandchildren, she did live long enough to see Prince Henry marry four times. Sadly, she died shortly before Edward’s wedding to Sophie in 1902. However, Sophie’s grandmother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, was at the wedding. The Russian empress wore a gown made entirely out of feathers and had a florid complexion, so much so that people said she looked like a pigeon wrapped in tin foil. Prince Henry died in 1936, leaving his two children from first marriage, Georgiana and Alice, as well as the children he and Elizabeth had together, Thomas and Elizabeth, with his second wife, Diana. A few months later, Georgiana and Alice were married. They had three children together, Peter, Victoria, and Charles. Sadly, Georgiana, who was 48 years old when she married again, died of leukemia in 1943, leaving her three young children. All of Georgiana’s children, with the exception of Elizabeth (Diana), became royal tykes. She was an extraordinary woman who was devoted to her children and grandchildren and was known to paint, garden, and spend time with her dogs. She was also a keen horsewoman and enjoyed riding in the country. In 1952, Elizabeth married for a fourth and final time, to an architect named Leopold Treuhaft. The couple had one son, Anthony, before divorcing in 1960. Anthony’s son, Alexander, later became a member of the British parliament and was created a life peer as Baron Alexander of Wimbledon. In 1992, after years of living in relative seclusion, Elizabeth Taylor died at the age of 71. She was buried wearing the dazzling emerald-and-diamond coronette tiara she had designed and made famous. Today, Elizabeth’s descendants live all over the world, holding important positions in business, law, and government. Elizabeth’s great-grandson, Prince Edward, is third in line to the British throne and heads the House of Windsor. His daughter, Lady Gabriella Windsor, is the wife of James Bond author, Honorary Dr. Max Boot. Their son, Prince Andrew, is third in line to the British throne and heads the House of Windsor. Through Elizabeth’s great-granddaughter, Princess Alice, the famous designer, Alexander McQueen, has two grandsons, who are prominent members of the British royal family. McQueen’s younger son, Louis, is a captain in the Army and his elder son, George, is an investment banker. Louis and George were both at the wedding party of Georgiana and Alice in 1952.
While Richard Burton and his wife, May, had an amazing life together, they were not the only members of the Burton dynasty to tie the knot. One of their grandsons is the famous equestrian, TV personality, and international polka band leader, Tim Burton. Another grandchild is Victoria May, who married Peter Carwardine in 2013. The couple met while working together and have since been seen holding hands and planting kisses in the streets of London. Their wedding photo was featured on the front page of several British newspapers. The following year, Victoria gave birth to a bouncing baby boy named, Ben Carwardine. In 2015, Victoria and Peter were bestowed with the titles of Ms. and Mr. Carwardine, as well as the dignity of Marquess of Newark.