Prince Albert Victor, the grandson of Queen Victoria, became second in line to the British throne at the time of his birth in 1864. However, Eddy, as he was nicknamed, died at age 28, before his father and grandmother, and never became king. Since his death, there have been unsubstantiated claims that the prince was Jack the Ripper, the mysterious serial killer who brutally slayed at least five women in London in 1888.

Albert Victor was the oldest son of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, and Alexandra, Princess of Wales, who was from Denmark. After being educated by private tutors and at Trinity College, Cambridge, the younger Albert served in the British army. Before his name ever was linked to Jack the Ripper, there was speculation about the prince’s ties to the Cleveland Street scandal, which became public in 1889 and involved a male brothel in London patronized by prominent Englishmen. The prince was rumored to have visited the brothel, although his identity was kept out of the newspapers in Britain and the story only was reported in overseas publications.

Prince Albert Victor, c. 1870.
W. and D. Downey/Getty Images
Prince Albert Victor, c. 1870.

The prince never wed. His marriage proposal to Princess Alix of Hesse, his first cousin, was rejected; she later wed Russia’s last czar, Nicholas II. The prince then became romantically involved with Princess Helene, a Roman Catholic whose father was an exiled French count. British royals weren’t permitted to marry Catholics, so the prince appealed to Queen Victoria as well as the pope, to no avail. Albert Victor considered giving up his right to ascend to the throne to tie the knot with Helene, but the couple ended their relationship instead. (In 1936, the prince’s nephew, King Edward VIII, abdicated in order to marry an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson.) The prince eventually became engaged to Princess Mary of Teck; however, before a wedding could take place Albert Victor fell ill and died in January 1892.

Queen Victoria died in 1901 and was succeeded by Prince Albert Victor’s father, who was crowned Edward VII. When the monarch passed away in 1910, the late prince’s younger brother, George (who married Mary of Teck in 1893) became king. His granddaughter, Elizabeth II, has reigned as Britain’s queen since 1952.

In the late 20th century, allegations began circulating that Prince Albert Victor was Jack the Ripper and had murdered his victims due to insanity brought on by a case of syphilis. The theory has largely been debunked, though, and the prince is one of many potential suspects put forth in the unsolved killings