The Uncle of Europe
For those in style and fashion, the names “King Edward”, “Bertie”, “Albert”, or “Uncle Ed” ring a very loud bell. In Victorian history, Edward VII made many impressions upon both public and private practices, in politics as well as social settings. He was an heir-apparent made king at a time that was perhaps the last of its kind, at least certainly for the next age.
King Albert Edward VII of Britain was born in 1841 as the heir and son of Queen Victoria. He walked to the beat of his own drum; and as his mother denied him access to any real political power, he made his own stamp throughout the empire in a different way – style.
King Edward was a socialite. In fact, by the time he rose to the throne, he was one of the most beloved leaders in the western world by the nature of his networks and reputation. He knew how to throw a party, how to dress for any occasion, and what to say whether at the table or the podium. He was a hunter, a traveler, and a patron. His demeanor was known by many to be counter-precedent for royalty. The people of colonial India were equal in his eyes to their governors. Perhaps his biggest flaw was the like of Israel’s Solomon – a fancy for one (or more) too many women.
But in Edward’s case, his many scandals and relationships couldn’t bring down the people’s ultimate respect for him as a leader. Whether right or wrong, that is to say that “Bertie” figured out how to become the “modern monarch” of the new century: a celebrity.
His audience simply loved him.
His Majesty, with a close ear to fashion and trends, became much of an icon in the realm of style. He began the practice of unfastening the bottom button on his waistcoat. Since he gradually reached a healthy, hefty weight with age and good fortune, his form became difficult for the cut and drape of his garments. Thus he shirked the form for the sake of function, and there started a trend. Having watched all of Edward’s followers adopt the same fashion, tailors began to cut clothing with the fashion in mind. And here we are today following suit.
He also notably began the wearing of black in the evening. For evening attire, he moved men’s style away from white and tails toward a black formal adornment. Not much has changed other than Sinatra’s red pocket square to boot.
So let us learn from this timeless Gentleman. Take care in your dress, engage others with equality, and make your mark on society if you will. But also appreciate the damsel in your life, should you be so lucky, and not all the other fish in the sea to both your detriment.
And this is just probably safe to assume (from his later ailments…): don’t smoke 12 cigars and 20 cigarettes a day. Even if they taste like South American heaven.