It’s well past Valentine’s Day but Smithsonian highlights history’s Top Ten Demonstrations of Love:
- Forever winning any argument in their marriage, King Edward VIII abdicates the throne in order to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson.
- One of the most famous royal love affairs was between Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert. When he died in 1861 from Typhoid fever, she spent the remainder of her life (40 years) in mourning – traveling with his portrait, living nearly in seclusion, and wearing black.
- Upon the death of his favorite wife, Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan commissioned the Taj Mahal.
- Lucille Ball, a popular radio star at the time, was offered a lucrative television contract. However, she refused to sign on without the involvement of her husband, Cuban pop-star and heart-throb, Desi Arnaz. The birth of “I Love Lucy“. Their later divorce would also go down in history.
- Eva Perón, immortalized in the musical Evita, was married to the dictator Juan Perón. In spite of her husband’s eventual overthrow and exile (as a result of his rather… distasteful and bloody methods of remaining in power), she stood by his side. Shortly before succumbing to cervical cancer, she gave a speech to her people in the presence of her husband: “To Peron. . . I shall never finish paying my debt, not until I give my life in gratitude for the kindness he has always shown me,” she told the tearful audience. “Nothing that I have, nothing that I am, nothing that I think is mine; it is Peron’s.”
- In 1927, after watching the challenges of his wife in her home-making duties (specifically the disposal of food products), John Hammes invented the garbage disposal! Homemakers rejoice!
- Marilyn Monroe is one of the most iconic figures of Hollywood. She was married three times, most famously to American Hero and Baseball player, Joe DiMaggio. After he death in 1962, he sent flowers to her grave every week, for decades.
- When his new wife was homesick for the lush landscape of her old life, King Nebuchadnezzar II built for her the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the wonders of the Ancient World).
- On Christmas morning 1870, composer Richard Wagner awoke his wife to a composition he had written specifically for the occasion, “Siegfried Idyll.” The piece was originally mean only for his wife’s ears, but later financial hardship required that he sell the rights.
- President William McKinley‘s wife Ida suffered from severe epileptic seizures. Ignoring protocol of the day, which would have included hiding his wife from public view, he insisted that she be seated next to him at all public state events and would readily tend to her when the need arose. When he was fatally shot in 1901, he told his men: “My wife—be careful…how you tell her.”
To read more about these stories of love, see the article in the Smithsonian: Top Ten Demonstrations of Love.