We exist to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

King Edward VIII – hidden brother with epilepsy was “an animal”

29 Jun 2015

A controversial letter written by King Edward VIII has come to light after almost 100 years. It refers to the death of the King’s brother John and highlights intolerant attitudes towards epilepsy in the early 20th Century

The letter was written by Edward VIII to his lover Freda Dudley Ward in 1919. It is one of 250 found stored in a trunk by a stamp collector. Now discovered, the letter will be auctioned in Los Angeles and is expected to fetch £20,000.

Edward VIII is the Queen’s uncle, brother to George VI and Princess Mary. Unknown by many is the fact that they had another brother, John. John was diagnosed with epilepsy and autism at four years old.

King Edward VIII on a postage stampPrince John lived at Sandringham and was kept away from public attention after his diagnosis. He died in 1919 – at the age of 13 – as a result of a seizure. John’s short life was the subject of a BBC dramatisation called The Lost Prince (first aired in 2003 and most recently broadcast towards the end of 2014).

In the letter, Edward said: “His death is the greatest relief imaginable or what we’ve always silently prayed for. This poor boy had become more of an animal than anything else and was only a brother in the flesh and nothing else.”

The letter has been termed cruel. It shows a lack of understanding for epilepsy and autism, showing just how much attitudes to both conditions have advanced in the last century.

There are no comments yet. Be the first to comment...

Question about your epilepsy?

Use our email helpline service -- your question will be sent directly to our trained helpline advisors who will reply to you. If you post a question about your epilepsy as a comment on a page, it may not be replied to so please use the email helpline service.

Want to talk to other people with epilepsy?

Take a look at forum4e our online community for people with epilepsy. Anyone with epilepsy over the age of 16 can join, from anywhere in the world.

Comment about this page?

We welcome feedback on the content of our website. If you have any comments about the page you were reading, then please complete the form below.

All comments are reviewed by a moderator before appearing on the site. Once the comment appears, your name and comment will be seen by other visitors to the site. Comments will be edited or deleted if they are offensive, libellous, slanderous, abusive, commercial or irrelevant. Comments may also be edited or deleted if they are not relevant to the page on which they are entered.

We ask for your email when you make a comment through this website. This means that we can let you know directly that we have replied to you. By making a comment through the website, you allow us to use the comment in our publicity without using your name. If we would like to use your name, we will email you to get your permission.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.