Kim, in Baltimore, packing for next week’s retreat in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.
Most nights my mom read to me from a book of fairy tales illustrated by Tasha Tudor. My favorite was Cinderella. I loved that story and also enjoyed watching the Rodgers and Hammerstein version on television. Prince Charming was portrayed by Stuart Damon. I was enamored with him and continued to be so even after he left royalty to become a doctor on General Hospital.
I’ve since learned I’m not the only Baltimore girl to become infatuated with a prince. Charm City has a history with royal marriages and those unions could be two of our greatest love stories, both filled with heartache, high drama and scandal.
Elizabeth Patterson was a great beauty, and in 1803 thought to be the most beautiful woman in America. It was for this very reason Jerome Bonaparte, younger brother of Napoleon, visited Baltimore. He was determined to meet the “exquisite creature” living here.
They fell in love and were married on Christmas Eve 1803, but they were not destined for a happy ending. By the following fall Napoleon insisted that his brother return to France. Napoleon wanted the marriage annulled and for his brother to marry a German princess. Though Jerome promised Elizabeth he would straighten things out with his brother, he never did.
When they docked in France, Elizabeth was not allowed to leave the ship with her husband. She never saw him again. She gave birth to their son in London before returning to Baltimore to live out the rest of her days. Jerome married the German princess, but was not officially divorced from Elizabeth until 1815.
One of Baltimore’s most notorious natives has to be Wallis Simpson. Who has not heard of the King who gave up his throne to be with the woman he loved? Mrs. Simpson grew up in a row house not far from where I live. The stories about her are less than flattering, but no one can deny she lived an exciting life.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were married for 35 years until his death in 1972. It was intended that both Wallis and her prince be buried here in Baltimore’s Green Mount Cemetery [also the final resting place of Betsy Patterson Bonaparte], but in the 1960’s Queen Elizabeth II agreed they should be laid to rest in England. They are side by side in the Royal Burial Ground near Windsor Castle.
They say well behaved women don’t make history, Betsy Patterson Bonaparte and Bessie Wallis Simpson make that a true statement. March is Women’s History month. Take time out to read about these and other fascinating women.
Dear Reader, What famous woman from your hometown fascinates you? Is there a famous one in particular you would want to meet?