In the late 1800’s one of the biggest same sex scandals rocked society since the Molly Houses almost a century prior. It even concerned Queen Victoria’s oldest grandson.
The scandal was regarding a male brothel.
The story broke in 1889 and intriguied the media both here and abroad, destroying many involved.
The investigation in the Cleveland Street brothel began in July 1889.
Constable Lake Hanks was investigating into a theft at the London Central telegraph office.
One telegraph boy was discovered with a large amount of money on his person. This was unusual because his employer: The post office. Charles Thomas Swincow, the telegraph boy in question admitted that he earnt the money working as a male prostitute.
The investigation led to further telegraph boys being investigated. By the time it was fully investigated the brothel was locked up and the owner had already left.
Albert Victor Christian Edward, known affectionately as Eddy was the heir to the British throne and was subjected to the Cleveland Street scandal and his personal life questioned after the raid.
Although none of the male prostitutes named Eddy as a client there appeared to be a great deal of talk that suggested he was frequently at Cleveland Street.
Eddy’s father, the then Prince of Wales is said to have intervened and Eddy was never even interviewed. The scandal did taint the Princes image.
Sir Russell QC was employed to oversea proceedings, keeping details from getting into the English newspapers, although the Welsh and overseas papers did name the Prince. Never naming Eddy in the papers here caused a political backlash.
There was also rumours with links to the ‘Jack the Ripper’ stories, although proven unfounded due to his location at the time of the attacks. Eddy was in Baromal at the time. These investigations were not disclosed by Scotland Yard until the 1960s.
The Prince died before becoming sovereign.
The royal household was further implemented with an equerry of The Prince of Wales also being investigated. However, Lord Arthur Somerset, the equerry who appeared to have had connections along with the brothel keeper both fled abroad.
Majority of the patrons and male prostitutes escaped light or no procections. One client even successfully sued the press for liable.
This was a time when any act of homosexuality had became punishable with two years hard labour only a few years prior. Previous to this it was only the act of buggery that was technically a criminal offence.