LILLIE LANGTRY, British actress was born (d. 1929) Langtry was one of the most famous actresses of her day, but her real talent were her dalliances and marrying well.
Her heyday as a society beauty culminated in her becoming a semi-official mistress to the Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria’s son Albert Edward (“Bertie”), the future king Edward VII. Her relationship with Edward cooled when she infuriated him by becoming intoxicated at a party and slipping and falling after stepping on a piece of ice. He later (possibly to rid himself of the affair) encouraged Prince Louie of Battenberg, to replace him as Langtry’s lover.
Bertie once complained to her, “I’ve spent enough on you to build a battleship,” whereupon she tartly replied, “And you’ve spent enough in me to float one.” Other lovers included wealthy Britons Robert Peel and George Baird. Among her friends were the Irish writer Oscar Wilde and the American artist James McNeill Whistler. Langtry became an American citizen, and divorced her husband the same year in California. A letter of condolence written by her to a widow reads in part: “I too have lost a husband, but alas! it was no great loss.”
In 1899 she married the much younger Hugo Gerald de Bathe, who would inherit a baronetcy, and became a leading owner in the horse-racing world, before retiring to Monte Carlo. Her last years of acting were performed in vaudeville.
She resided during her final years in a home in Monaco, with her husband living separate from her a short distance away. During this period the two saw one another only when she called on him for social gatherings, or in brief private encounters. Her constant companion during this time was her close friend, Mathilda Peat, the widow of Lillie’s deceased butler.