Shining a Light

Alexandra Parham

Jack the Ripper’s London

Lavaughn Towell

April 21, 2009

Shining a Light

            Telling the truth is not over rated. That old wise prophecy “honesty is the best policy” is in most cases correct and is applicable to most situations. Knowing the truth on the other hand, could be sometimes considered unnecessary and on other occasions just downright dull. The unknown is exciting. It is Hollywood gossip. It is a secret; the secret a person would die to know and almost does trying to figure it out. It is wishing to be inside of that one person’s head at that single moment in time. The unknown is intriguing and people want to know. Or so they think. It is really the theorizing and the chase of it the unknown that makes them so compelled to dive head first into that sea of darkness, preparing to shine their light on their black, hole filled history. This is where most theories about cases and scandals in our history come from. They stem from curiosity. The Jack the Ripper murders are a perfect example of this, mostly because the Ripper has never been caught. People wonder how did he get away with it? Who is the man behind it all? The possibilities are endless.  With the little evidence the world has it could be a prominent figure in history or some bum that lived down the street. One of the primary theories on the Ripper killings is the Royal Conspiracy. Despite hard evidence against the Conspiracy, it still remains a popular theory among the modern day talk of the case. It is much more interesting to dig up the unknown skeletons about the Royal Family than to research a nobody. People are much more interested in the glitter and glitz of a scandal; essentially, a royal cover-up. Although it has some believable aspects and points, the Royal Conspiracy for the Jack the Ripper murders is a theory based on very little fact and too heavily on assumption.

            The source of the Royal Conspiracy theory leads back to Prince Albert Victor, or known by Eddy to his family. Prince Eddy was born in 1864 and was the first son of Prince Albert Edward, son of Queen Victoria, and his wife Princess Alexandra. His father was known to be a lady’s man while his mother was a more like a Princess Diana or Mother Teresa figure to the public. From a young age Eddy was reported to be of a “slow” nature. Nonetheless, he grew up and attended Cambridge University. During his time there, Eddy received a tutor due to his less than satisfactory learning abilities. Eddy was also a partially deaf. This came from his mother’s, Princess Alexandra, side of the family. There are three different theories within this one Royal Conspiracy and all concern Prince Eddy. The first claims Eddy as the Ripper himself. It all begins with a rumor about Eddy’s health. It was reported Eddy had syphilis by the Royal physician Sir William Gull. Driven mad by the illness, Eddy supposedly lost control and started committing these horrifying crimes. According to this theory, The Royal family was well aware of what Eddy was doing, but put no stop to it. Only after the double murder of Catherine Eddowes and Liz Stride did Eddy’s family choose to restrain him. After the double murder he was reported to be put into an insane asylum. But what about Mary Kelly? Purportedly, Eddy escaped the asylum and went on to commit the murder of Mary Kelly. After Kelly’s murder, Eddy was then again found and locked up. He died in 1892. The cover up for his death was the flu but reports say he died in the mental hospital of “softening of the brain”. This meaning one of William Gull’s outlandish experiments to make one lose their mind. The main flaw in this theory is the dates. Royal records show Prince Eddy was out of the country during all five of the murders. Polly Nichols died August 31. Eddy was known to be staying with Viscount Downe at Danby Lodge, Grosmont, Yorkshire from the 29th of August to the 7th of September. The night of Annie Chapman’s death the Prince was at the Cavalry Barracks in York until the 10th. The double murder occurred on September 30th. On this day the Prince was at Abergeldie, Scotland where Queen Victoria had recorded Eddy having lunched with her. Eddy was said to arrive in London November 1st from York. Yet, the next day he went to Sandringham until the 12th. Mary Kelly was murdered the 9th (Ryder).  Although dates could be said to be suspect due to the Royal Family “covering up” it is very unlikely Eddy was the Ripper. The next theory agrees and runs with that idea.

            The second theory does not place Eddy as the Ripper. This idea puts Eddy’s tutor, James Kenneth Stephen, as the murderer and plays on the rumor of Eddy’s questionable sexuality. James Stephen was born February 25th, 1859 as the second son to his family. His father was Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, a well-known Maybrick judge and a cousin to the famous sisters Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf. Stephen attended the University at Eton and continued to move up in the world of knowledge. This thirst for wisdom is how Stephen eventually meets Eddy. Their relationship began when Princess Alexandra hired Stephen as Eddy’s tutor when he was struggling with his studies while attending Cambridge University. Supposedly, James and Eddy developed a homosexual relationship with one another during their time together. There is no evidence to why this alleged relationship ended. Some say it was never there to begin with and Stephen was disillusioned about the whole thing. Although no one says why the relations ended between these two, it is believed it ended on June 17th, 1885. Nothing is recorded about Stephen after this until two years later when he was in a mysterious, life threatening accident. It is not quite clear what this incident entailed, but it is known he received a major head injury and this brain damage would eventually be the cause of his death. Although it was thought Stephen made a complete recovery from the accident, he became a patient of Sir William Gull, the Royal Physician in 1887 after having incidents of delusion and insanity. It is thought that his supposed breakup with Prince Eddy combined with his accident, provoked Stephen into becoming the Ripper (Ryder). The problem with this theory is Stephen’s alleged choice of victim. The targets of these murders were female prostitutes. It is most common for serial killers to murder or cause harm to the sex they are most attracted to or the sex society tells them to be attracted to. In this case, Stephen was supposedly attracted to males, not females. So it makes no sense that he was the Ripper and killed five female prostitutes in a fit of desire for Eddy. A more believable story would be Stephen murdering male prostitutes. This would not have been any more difficult either, due to the high number of male brothels in London at the time of the murders. All of this is very unlikely and based solely on circumstantial evidence with no concrete facts. It is not believed by many. However, the third theory involving Eddy is one of the most popular theories to date. This theory is viewed as the true Royal Conspiracy.

            Oddly enough, the Royal Conspiracy did not surface as a suspect to the Ripper murders until the year 1973. Even stranger is how the theory came about. BBC programming was airing a new show Jack the Ripper. In this new show, detectives named Barlow and Watt solve the Ripper mystery. Before creating the show, producers were advised to do some research on the actual murders. In doing so, they were advised to talk to a man who knew a story; a story involving Prince Eddy, Sir William Gull, the Queen herself, and many more. This man was Joseph Sickert. Joseph was the son of a famous painter named Walter Sickert. He claims this is where he heard the story. Walter Sickert was recorded to have lived in the East End during the times of the murders and was believed to be a close friend to the Royal family. Again, the two’s relationship was facilitated by Princess Alexandra when she requested Sickert to take Eddy under his wing and look out for him. This is the start of the web about to unfold. As known, Sickert was a painter. When he and Eddy were together in was usually outside of the castle in someplace like his studio or local stores. Eventually, Sickert introduced Eddy to a girl who worked in one of these shops named Annie Crook. A double life soon followed. Eddy married Annie in a Catholic ceremony and got her pregnant with a legitimate child. They had a daughter by the name of Alice Margaret. The two were living happily with each other while raising their daughter until the Queen found out. Not only had her grandson, the heir to the throne after his father, married a commoner, he had married a Catholic commoner. To top it off, they had a legitimate child; an eventual Catholic heir to the throne of England. This would most certainly cause a revolution. Queen Victoria would not have this and soon enlisted help to take care of the situation. She called upon her Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury to resolve her problem with Eddy and his double life. He in turn went to Sir William Gull the Royal Physician. The solution was simple. Get rid of the girl. This is exactly what Salisbury and Gull did. The two organized a raid upon the home of Eddy and Annie and were successful. Eddy was taken away and Annie was sent to Gull’s “hospital” were she was experimented on and made to lose her mind, erasing all the memories of ever being married to a Prince and birthing the child that would have changed the face of England forever. Yet, Salisbury and Gull were not completely successful. That child got away. Alice was taken by her nanny Mary Kelly, the last victim of Jack the Ripper (Ryder).

Supposedly, Kelly was a coworker and friend of Annie’s and also a model for Sickert’s paintings. Soon after Alice’s birth, Kelly became her nanny. When hearing about the raid, Kelly took Alice and fled. As the story goes, Kelly was friends with all the other Ripper victims and eventually told them the story of Eddy and Annie’s secret marriage and their child Alice. The group decided to use the information and blackmail the government for money they owed a local “pimp”. Salisbury caught wind of the women’s threat and called once more for the assistance of Gull. This is when the Masonic theory comes in to play. Sir William Gull, along with most other men of status during that time, was an alleged Freemason. He supposedly created Jack the Ripper as a Freemason symbol. He wanted to show the power of the Masons and send a clear picture as to what they were capable of doing to the people who crossed them. Gull desired to leave a message and a gruesome and violent one at that. The murders were supposedly reenactments of that of Mason Grand Master Hirem Abiff in Solomon’s Temple. The murderers of Abiff were called “The Three Ruffians” and their names were Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum. These three masons were tired of their low places and desired a more exalted position in the Masonry. Their solution was to find the Grand Master and demand his secret password. When he denied each of them, they in return murdered and buried him, placing a sprig of Acacia on his grave. The three were eventually captured and forced to confess. After this they were executed. Other alleged significant evidence about the Mason connection is Mitre Square. It was believed to be a meeting place at its many various lodges. The name is also a symbol for Masonic Procedures (The Hiramic Legend).

The theory claims Gull had help with this task and was aided by two other men. The first man enlisted was John Netley. Netley’s job in the scheme of things was to be a coachman. It is not clear whether Netley was a coachman to pick up the prostitutes and bring them to Gull, a getaway car for Gull after he committed the murders, or both. The second man taken in by Gull was Sir Robert Anderson. His job in the plot was to cover up the crimes and act as lookout during the murders. Gull, being a doctor and the only one with anatomical knowledge, would perform the gruesome murders. According to Josephs Sickert, Catherine Eddowes was a mistake. She apparently went by the name Mary Kelly at times. This caused Gull and his crew to believe she was the Mary Kelly whom was also Alice’s nanny and Annie’s friend. After realizing the mistake, the real Mary Kelly was quickly found and became the fifth murder victim at the hands of Jack the Ripper. Annie and Eddy’s daughter Alice somehow slipped through the cracks once again. As the story goes she married Walter Sickert, the man that introduced her parents and gave birth to Joseph, the teller of this whole story (Ryder). Most think this is too strange of a coincidence to be the truth. Others say it makes so much sense; no one could possibly make it up. After all five murders had been committed, the conspiracy cover up had to have someone to blame. This someone was a man named Montague John Druitt. Druitt was a doctor and suspicions about his anatomical knowledge and use of knives circulated. His whereabouts during the time of the murders were unclear so he has no true alibi. Druitt’s body was found December 31, 1888 in the Thames River. Autopsy reports state he had drowned. Most likely, Druitt had committed suicide and this is the common belief. If he committed suicide because he was Jack the Ripper and had finally lost his mind or out of personal agony and depression is unknown (Sugden 373-396).

The evidence on the Royal Conspiracy is an intriguing load. Sex, secret marriages, double lives, kidnapping, murders, ritual, cover up, the list goes on and on. Perhaps this is the reason why people are so interested in this theory. No matter what time period, people are going to want to believe the government is out to get the society in which they govern. It is inevitable. Despite the want to believe this is all true, the cold hard facts are not on the people’s side. All of the evidence proving the Royal Conspiracy is true is not really evidence. It is based solely on assumption and circumstantial discoveries. Indeed, people want to shine some light on this dark and dismal case, but this was not the correct theory. I guess the world will have to sit in darkness a while longer because the Royal Conspiracy is not the final solution.


Works Cited

1.      Ryder, Stephen P. (Ed.) “.” Casebook: Jack the Ripper. <       victims/chapman.html> Accessed: 27 April 2009

2.      Sugden, Philip. The Complete History of Jack the Ripper. New York. Carroll and         Graf Publishers 2002.

3.      “The Hiramic Legend.” Phoenixmasonry. 1995-2005. 27 Apr 2009       <    htm>.


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