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Prince William: His Secret Mistress

BritFlorida loves to track down historical stories, especially scandals and mysteries from the UK.

Prince William's secret mistress

Prince William's secret mistress

Prince William and his secret love

A modern and up-to-date prince, William was undeniably handsome, charming and eligible. But like other members of the British Royal Family before him, he chose the wrong person to love.

Yet this story, unlike other royal scandals of the time, ended in tragedy.

Today, Prince William's story is largely unknown.

Prince William water skiing

Prince William water skiing

The Prince was born in 1941. He was seven years older than Prince Charles, who admired him deeply. He was a sporty and athletic young man who enjoyed fast cars and flying his own plane.

He followed the usual royal education and then went into the Foreign Office.

It was when he was stationed in Tokyo that this twenty-seven year old eligible bachelor found the woman for him, Zsuzsi Starkloff.

The prince was head over heels in love. But to the royal family, she was totally unsuitable.

To begin with,she had been divorced twice. This rang obvious bells in the minds of the royal family.

Would William make the same mistake as other royals had done within recent living memory? Could he be dissuaded?

William was, according to a recent interview with Zsuzsi, a very conscientious royal who wanted to be sure that he did the right thing by his family. But he was obviously deeply in love.

Edward and Mrs Simpson

Edward and Mrs Simpson

Edward and Mrs Simpson

In the thirties the country, indeed the world, had been shocked when King Edward VIII had abdicated in order to marry Mrs Wallis Simpson.

Like Prince William's love, Mrs Simpson had been divorced twice. But for William, things looked even worse.

Zsuzsi was also a mother - she had two young children. Could it be even worse in the eyes of the establishment? Yes, Zsuzsi was Hungarian and Jewish.

Furthermore many people, myself included, believe that Edward knew he had made a mistake. I, and others, have doubted that he had a happy life with Mrs Simpson once they became the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and were effectively exiled. Would William too regret his actions if he married Zsuzsi?

The comparisons are close - scroll down to see the family tree. Edward was William's uncle.

Princess Margaret

Princess Margaret

Scroll to Continue

Princess Margaret

Princess Margaret's true love had been older than her.And Zsuzsi was seven years older than Prince William.

Similarly, Group Captain Townsend, with whom Margaret was deeply in love, was also divorced.

Margaret had taken the opposite course to her uncle, Edward. She had decided to give up the man she loved in order to remain in the British Royal Family.

But like Edward,it's unlikely that she had a happy life. She married, had children, but was then divorced. She took lovers, she drank and smoked, leading a hedonistic life - possibly because she hadn't been able to marry the man she loved.

However, she was asked to visit Tokyo to see Prince William and advise him. She told him that he needed to consider his situation very carefully. Maybe it was hoped that this advice, coming from a woman who had given up her true love, would sway his decision.

Prince William of Gloucester

Prince William of Gloucester

What would the prince decide?

For the two years that William was stationed in Tokyo, his relationship with Zsuzsi grew and developed. At first, the establishment turned a blind eye - he was a long way from England, after all and royal males were never discouraged from 'gaining experience'.

But when his post was over and he returned to England, he took Zsuzsi with him, determined to persuade his family. This did not work.

William was now persuaded to remain in England as his father, Prince Henry, was now seriously ill. He was needed at home to take over. Unaccepted by the family Zsuzsi left for the States.

Still besotted, William joined her there for several weeks but was again recalled by the royal family to undertake official duties.

Prince William of Gloucester

Prince William of Gloucester


Back in England, William was still in considerable emotional turmoil. He was conscious of his position in the royal family and wouldn't consider marrying Zsuzsi in secret.

He wrote his last letter to her in August 1972. Zsuzsi believes to this day that the prince intended to return to America and marry her.

But on August 29th, William was taking part in an air race in England, something he had done many times before.

We will probably never know the cause but the two-seater aircraft unexpectedly banked, lost altitude and crashed.The aircraft burst into flames and William and his co-pilot were killed instantly.

He was thirty years of age.

Who was Prince William?

Prince William's family tree

Prince William's family tree

Further reading

The family tree above shows that Prince William was a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.

King George V had five children, the eldest of which was Edward VIII who abdicated so he could marry Wallis Simpson. His second son therefore became George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II. Prince William's father was his third son.

His other children were Mary, George and the ill-fated Prince John.

Learn more about the 'forgotten prince'. Take a look at the book on the right.


  • The story of the love affair between the prince comes largely from Zsuzsi herself. Some of her story is not officially proven
  • Some commentators have pointed out that William's younger brother, just six weeks before William died, had indeed been able to marry a woman who was both foreign and a commoner, Birgitte Eva Henriksen. Ironically, this may have been because he was not the eldest son. On William's death though, he became his father's heir
  • The comparison between William and Edward VII is not strictly fair. When Edward was conducting his affair with Wallis Simpson, he was the heir to the throne and later the king. William was at no time in line for the throne
  • Whilst in Tokyo, William began to suffer from ill health. He was diagnosed as having porphyria - a disease which is known to be hereditary in the British Royal Family. What we will never know is a) whether this diagnosis was accurate or an assumption based on the hereditary knowledge and b) how, if at all, this would have affected his quality of life had he lived
  • Prince Charles, who greatly admired his mother's cousin William, named his firstborn after him - today's Duke of Cambridge
  • William's father,Prince Henry was never told about what happened to his son. He was seriously ill and his wife deemed it best not to tell him - to spare his anguish

Further reading

© 2014 Jackie Jackson


Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 26, 2015:

He was a very handsome man. Are there no photos available of Zsuzsi?

Jackie Jackson (author) from Fort Lauderdale on October 14, 2014:

Hi @suzettenaples - I think that they'll keep me busy writing for the rest of my life :)

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on October 13, 2014:

Another interesting story about the British monarchy. I was not aware of this first Prince William at all, probably because he died so young. Well, the British monarchy certainly is not boring, that's for sure.

Jackie Jackson (author) from Fort Lauderdale on October 08, 2014:

Barbara - wasn't he gorgeous? As you say, a sad story.

Jackie Jackson (author) from Fort Lauderdale on October 07, 2014:

@Nancy Hardin - I absolutely agree. It always seemed to be that the younger generation forgot that Margaret's so-called bad behaviour was due to her living the life she didn't want. I know that the story is that SHE made the choice not to marry Townsend but I'm not convinced.

Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on October 06, 2014:

Jackie, well another interesting British story - and yes he was so handsome! sad he died so young

Jackie Jackson (author) from Fort Lauderdale on October 06, 2014:

@bravewarrior - isn't this a sad story? This gorgeous young man, with everything, but nothing eventually. So sad.

Jackie Jackson (author) from Fort Lauderdale on October 06, 2014:

@LindaBookLady -isn't it a sad story? Thanks for dropping by.

Jackie Jackson (author) from Fort Lauderdale on October 06, 2014:

@Nancy Hardin- good to know that you are an addict:) Thanks so much!

Jackie Jackson (author) from Fort Lauderdale on October 06, 2014:

@ecogranny - I only just found out about him quite recently. There's a photograph of Prince William somewhere online when he is standing wearing no t-shirt after a polo match and alongside a sports car. I'm sure I've seen one of Prince Charles in almost the exact same pose. They are subject to copyright though so I can't add them here - uncanny though.

Nancy Carol Brown Hardin from Las Vegas, NV on October 06, 2014:

;It seems royalty has a price to pay for just being royal. I think it's sad that their lives are so rigidly defined that they're not allowed to be human. I felt really bad for Princess Margaret when she was not allowed to marry Group Captain Townsend. It seems to me that after that, she just decided to let it all go to hell. Her behavior after that, was, I believe, a result of her forbidden love for him.

Jackie Jackson (author) from Fort Lauderdale on October 06, 2014:

@MariaMontgomery - I only found out about him quite recently and I thought I knew about British history too! Once you start delving into the lives of the royals, it's amazing what turns up :)

Jackie Jackson (author) from Fort Lauderdale on October 06, 2014:

Thank you so much, Lorelei. There's still so much material available from royals in days gone by.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 06, 2014:

This is so sad. In looking at the photos of young William, he seemed sad even then. It's a shame he never found happiness.

Linda Jo Martin from Post Falls, Idaho, USA on October 05, 2014:

Very tragic... so sad that he could not be with the one he loved, then died so young.

Jackie Jackson (author) from Fort Lauderdale on October 05, 2014:

Hi Merrci, in a way, it reminds me of the Kennedys and their so-called 'curse'. I suspect that sad stories are inevitable with huge families like them and the royals. True what you say about the media though.

Nancy Carol Brown Hardin from Las Vegas, NV on October 04, 2014:

Oh gosh, your Hubs are becoming my "secret addiction," and I read them when I manage to reward myself for getting work done. Tonight I'm down to four red skulls left, because I finished one before I allowed myself to read this Hub. I just love your stories...I truly think you should publish all these things in a book, but of course, with that temptation I'd never get any work done! Thanks britflorida, for all the entertainment you provide with these great stories.

Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on October 04, 2014:

Thanks for sharing this story. I had not heard of this prince, despite his having died in the early 70s. Somewhat striking to see the resemblance between him and the current Prince William, and to learn the younger is his namesake. I always enjoy your stories on British life.

MariaMontgomery from Coastal Alabama, USA on October 04, 2014:

Wow! I never heard of this William. You have truly educated me, and I thought I knew so much British history. Live and learn.

Lorelei Cohen on October 04, 2014:

The royals are and always will be a very fascinating topic of discussion. I had never heard the story of this elder William though so this was very interesting reading for me. Well written as is always your style.

Merry Citarella from Oregon's Southern Coast on October 04, 2014:

Interesting article BritFlorida. So many of the royals have sad stories. Maybe it's just that they make the news while the average soul does not. Always enjoy the read.

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