Over the years, there have been many theories surrounding the identity of Jack the Ripper. Yet, despite the wide array of suspects and the best efforts of amateur sleuths around the world, the identity of this elusive criminal remains a mystery.
However, while sifting through the list of suspects, one of the most shocking names you might encounter is that of Prince Albert Victor. Could royalty have been the Ripper?
Who Was Prince Albert Victor?
Prince Albert Victor, the grandson of Queen Victoria, was second in line to the British throne. Even though he had an illustrious future to look forward to, things quickly went awry for the Prince.
A stagnant military career, apathetic personality, and rumoured homosexuality all contributed to the fact that he was largely seen as a disappointment to the Royal family, before his premature death in 1892 at the age of just 28.
There is much speculation surrounding Prince Albert Victor’s later life and final years – not least because of his rumoured connection to Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel Murders.
But despite his privileged upbringing, was a life of wealth and luxury not enough to satisfy Prince Albert Victor’s bloodlust? Could this intriguing figure have been the mystery man behind the horrific spate of murders that shook the East End all those years ago?
A Bold Theory
This theory first came to light in 1962, in a book written by Phillippe Julien. Perhaps conveniently for Julien, most of the key names in the original Ripper investigation had passed away by this time.
Julien’s bold theory linked Prince Albert Victor with the horrifying murders committed by Jack the Ripper. In fact, he even suggested that the Prince was the Ripper himself – a shocking claim indeed.
This theory was then also taken up by Dr Thomas Stowell. He published an article which accused Prince Albert Victor of being Jack the Ripper, based mainly on the findings of the Prince’s physician, Sir William Gull.
Fact or Fiction?
While Julien’s theory may be compelling, its main opposition came from the fact that Julien never provided any solid proof to substantiate his claim. Any theory submitted without clear evidence to support it is always going to come under doubt and suspicion - and this is exactly the case with Julien’s theory.
However, one of the main reasons behind the theory – and also providing the evidence that Stowell mentioned in his article – was his health and mental condition. Additionally, Prince Albert Victor’s death was also heavily scrutinised.
According to Dr Stowell, Prince Albert Victor contracted syphilis in the West Indies. It is said that the fatal disease led to a decline in the Prince’s mental health, eventually causing him to become insane. Dr Stowell also said that it was this insanity that compelled him to become Jack the Ripper and murder a string of vulnerable women in the East End.
Whats more, Dr Stowell went on to claim that the Royal family were fully aware of both Prince Albert Victor’s deteriorating mental health and his secret identity as Jack the Ripper. He says that despite the fact that the Royal family knew about the murders and who was behind them, they chose to do nothing. Moreover, no attempts were made to restrain Prince Albert Victor until after the Double Event (the murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes on the same night).
As the syphilis worsened, the Prince’s mental state continued to go downhill, until eventually, he was confined to an asylum where he spent the remainder of his days.
Despite the bold nature of the theory and claims, the concrete evidence to support it was minimal at best. For starters, although Dr Stowell claimed to have used Sir William Gull’s medical notes as a basis for his article, this was never proven. Gull passed away in 1890 – two years after the Ripper murders, yet two years before Prince Albert Victor’s death.
In addition, it was confirmed that Prince Albert Victor wasn’t even in London when most of the Ripper murders took place!
Another theory suggested that one of the Ripper victims was pregnant with Prince Albert Victor’s unborn child. In order to silence her voice and protect the integrity of both the Prince and the Crown, the concept of Jack the Ripper was dreamt up. The theory says that the mother of his child was murdered, alongside all the other women who knew the Prince’s little secret.
However, once again, no solid evidence to support this theory has ever come to light and it is probable that this theory is nothing more than purely fanciful speculation.
So, Was Prince Albert Victor Really Jack the Ripper?
Although we may never know the Ripper’s identity for certain, the vast majority of evidence suggests that Prince Albert Victor was not the man who detectives were searching for.
Despite unreliable evidence and wild theories, no concrete proof has been uncovered to firmly link Prince Albert Victor to Jack the Ripper.