From Sex Worker To Princess To Murderer: The Remarkable Rise and Fall of Marguerite Alibert

Weird History
Apr 30, 2018 · 7 min read

By Rachel Souerbry


Marguerite Alibert’s story is one of gritty survival followed by a lucrative life of sex work. Alibert was a formidable woman who pulled herself up from a world of poverty to mingle among France’s elite, accomplishing her goal of turning affairs into large sums of money in the process.

Marguerite is also commonly remembered as Maggie Meller, a surname she took from the man she claimed was her husband at 17. Meller was one of four different surnames she would use throughout her exotic and exciting life.

Marguerite saw love not from a romantic’s point of view, but as a way to survive and thrive. She was even one of Prince Edward VIII’s mistresses and went on to marry an Egyptian royal. However, that monumental event is where her story takes a murderous turn. In the end, Marguerite went down in infamy as the princess who got away with murder.

Marguerite Was Born Into A Poor French Family, And Her Childhood Took A Tragic Turn

Source: Obsolete Oddity/YouTube

Marguerite was born in 1890 to a working-class French family — her father worked as a cab driver, and her mother was a maid. When her younger brother was four years old, he was hit by a lorry in the street and killed. Sadly, Marguerite’s parents blamed her for his death since she was supposed to be minding him at the time, and they shipped her off to the Sisters of Mary boarding school. At age 15, the nuns placed her in a home where she likely worked as a domestic servant. At 16, she was thrown out for getting pregnant by an unknown man. The daughter she eventually bore was sent away to live on a farm in central France.

She Was Taken In By A Prominent Brothel Owner And Taught To Be A High-Class Lady Of The Night

After she was turned out into the street and had her daughter sent away, Marguerite turned to sex work to make a living. She had seen that there was good money to be made by the upper-class sex workers, known as courtesans. A brothel owner, Madame Denart, discovered Marguerite and took her under her wing. She described young Marguerite as “the mistress of nearly all my best clients, gentleman of wealth and position in France, England, America and other countries… It was me that made a sort of lady of her.”

She Met Her First “Husband” At 17; He Was Already Married

In 1907, Marguerite met a man named Andre Meller. She was 17; he was 40. He was wealthy and owned a stable full of horses, which Marguerite loved. He bought her an apartment so they could conduct their relationship in private, and she took his last name. She claimed that they were married, but in reality, Meller was still technically married to his first wife. The relationship ended in 1913.

The Prince Of Wales Was Referred To Her For A Sexual Education

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In 1917, Marguerite was introduced to her next grand love affair — Prince Edward VIII. He was serving with British troops in France during WWI and had already lost his virginity to a courtesan “borrowed” from a friend. His friends decided that 23-year-old Edward needed to have a more thorough sexual experience — “a full education from an experienced woman.” Since a friend already knew of Marguerite, it was arranged that the two would meet. They had a passionate affair for about a year — until Edward lost interest.

Marguerite Had A Steady Supply Of Wealthy Gentlemen Who Funded Her Extravagant Lifestyle

Marguerite began to make a living by seducing and courting wealthy men, and it was paying off well. She was receiving many valuable trinkets and gifts — along with a settlement from Andre Meller — but she wanted more. She found her first legal husband, Charles Laurent, in 1919. The marriage was not what either of them wanted and was dissolved after only six months, but Marguerite did achieve her end goal — a large divorce settlement. That money paid for her apartment, as well as a stable of horses, cars, and servants.

Looking For A More Stable Life, Marguerite Married An Egyptian Lord

Ali Kamel Fahmy Bey first met Marguerite Laurent in 1921, and was immediately taken by her even though she was escorting a wealthy businessman at the time. Ali was not technically a prince; he was, however, ridiculously wealthy and had been given the title of “Bey,” the equivalent of “Lord.” He managed to arrange a meeting for the two of them in 1922 and soon proposed marriage to Marguerite and invited her to come live with him in Cairo. She hesitated but eventually agreed.

She Had To Convert To Islam For Their Formal Wedding

Source: Obsolete Oddity/YouTube

When she married Bey Fahmy, Marguerite had two clauses drawn up stating that she would be allowed to wear western clothing, and that she would be allowed to divorce him. In exchange, she would convert to Islam (and thus receive his inheritance). Just before the wedding, the divorce clause was thrown out — and he added a clause that would allow him to take extra wives.

Bey Fahmy Expected Her To Be A Submissive Wife — That Didn’t Go Over Too Well

The marriage between Marguerite and her bey was, unsurprisingly, an unhappy one. A woman as shrewd, independent, and openly sexual as Marguerite was never going to be the submissive, obedient, and proper Islamic wife that Bey Fahmy desired. The couple fought like cats and dogs, occasionally in public. It was said that Marguerite humiliated Bey Fahmy with her behavior.

Tension Built Over Time As Marguerite Claimed That Bey Fahmy Was Abusive To Her

Marguerite grew increasingly unhappy with the way Bey Fahmy treated her — especially sexually. There were rumors in Egypt regarding the bey’s alleged homosexuality, and Marguerite claimed at one point to have been “torn” by “unnatural” intercourse. It was thought by those who knew her that she might be ramping up to another big divorce payout, as she was making a list of all the abuses that Fahmy had committed against her.

Marguerite Shot Bey Fahmi Three Times Outside Of Their Hotel Room

On July 9, 1923, the couple attended a showing of “The Merry Widow” in London. After they returned to their hotel, they had a violent fight, and the bey left the room for a few hours. Around 2 am, there were three shots fired — Marguerite had shot Fahmy, execution-style, with the Browning .32 pistol that she had been keeping under her pillow. She was arrested, and Fahmy died of his injuries an hour later. With witnesses moments after the shots were fired, it seemed like an open and shut case.

The Letters That Prince Edward Had Written To Marguerite Came Back To Haunt Him

Source: Obsolete Oddity/YouTube

Years before she killed her husband, Marguerite had tried to blackmail Prince Edward by claiming that she had kept all of the scandalous letters he had sent her. Before the murder trial, she brought the blackmail tactic back into play.

According to author Andrew Rose, who wrote a book on the whole affair:

We think there are about 20 letters…which are wildly indiscreet. He’s said things about the conduct of the War that might have been misinterpreted, he’s made rude remarks about his father, and there’s commonly a sexual content in them as well. They are not the kind of letters that he would have wanted the world to know about.

Thanks To Blackmail, A Jury In England Found Margeurite To Be A Victim Of Abuse By Her Husband

When Marguerite was tried for the murder of husband, nobody realized what was going on behind the scenes of her trial. Had they been revealed, the letters she had been holding onto from Prince Edward would have been incredibly damaging for the English Royal Family, and they were ready to do anything to keep the story away from the public. There was a deal made with officials in the court, and her past was not allowed to be brought up during her trial — this ensured that Prince Edward was not mentioned. Instead, they painted a picture of her dead husband that was so vile (and racist) the jury let her go with no convictions.

Her Trial Was Considered The Spectacle Of The Year

During her trial in September 1923, crowds lined around the building to watch. People would send servants to save them seats, and some even paid for a place to sit in the courtroom. Mostly because of Marguerite’s former job as a courtesan — and her connection to the British Royal Family — her trial became something of an event.

Marguerite Spent The Rest Of Her Life Living Comfortably In Paris

After the death of her husband and her non-conviction for his murder, Marguerite returned to Paris to live out the rest of her life. She played small parts in movies and continued to charm wealthy men until she eventually backed away from the public spotlight. She died at the age of 80, still carrying her husband’s title. She had succeeded in making affairs into a business — after she died, her grandson found that her lavish life had been funded by settlements from five different men.

Weird History

Written by

History is weird. A lot weirder than you think. Follow us on Facebook:

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade