This is the untold story of a forbidden royal romance between Prince William and Hungarian model Zsuzsi Starkloff. A love affair that caused panic in the royal family and was vetoed by the Queen herself, an affair that was destined to end in tragedy.
Born in 1941, Prince William of Gloucester was the grandson of King George V and the first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II whose wedding he attended as a pageboy carrying the train of her dress down the aisle. At that time, he was fourth in line to the British throne, however, he had other aspirations than becoming a royal heir. He was known as the playboy prince who started rebelling against royal protocol at an early age. He could not bare the weight of the expectations that rested on his shoulders due to his noble origin. Prince William’s devil-may-care lifestyle earned him a reputation in the tabloids; he was flying a Piper aircraft, trekking through the Sahara and dating models his family did not approve of. Prince William’s dashing good looks could get him anyone he desired – but the woman he set his heart on, eventually, turned out to be the one he could not get.
The Hungarian femme fatale was born in 1936 in Budapest under the name Zsuszi Lehel. She married young and had a daughter with her first husband, Tibor Serfőző. When the ‘56 revolution broke out, the couple first fled to Austria, and then they continued their journey to the United States. However, their marriage did not survive all the struggles. Zsuszi met his second husband, Malcolm Edward Starkloff an airline pilot while working as a stewardess in Tokyo, but this marriage also ended in divorce. As a single mother to support her child, Zsuzsi eventually turned to modelling. Her western beauty was much in demand in the Japanese capital, she soon became the face of the beauty giant, Revlon. Even the famous actor Sean Connery laid eyes on the Hungarian beauty when he was visiting Tokyo for a movie set.
One of the 20th-century grandest love stories began in Tokyo where the prince first set eyes on the glamorous, two-time divorcée Zsuzsi Starkloff. Prince William arrived in Japan in September 1968 as a newly appointed diplomat at the British Embassy, a civilian job he chose to take on to avoid the British press. Prince William with his movie-star looks made an instant impact on the party set among Tokyo’s ex-pat community, a Western elite that also included Zsuszi. The Hungarian model was eager to meet the newly arrived British diplomat. She sent a special invitation to the prince to attend the next ex-pat ceremony, which she signed as Cinderella. The plan worked. William was either way known for having a taste for elder women, and the Hungarian beauty who dressed as an Indian princess at the masquerade ball instantly mesmerized him. Little did the British prince know that time that his whole life was about to turn upside down.
Shortly after arriving in Japan, Prince William struck up a passionate relationship with the Hungarian model. Far away from home and the attention of the British royal family, their affair blossomed faster than either of them imagined. They ended up renting a waterside home by the Pacific Ocean; it was their private love nest where they were not bothered by the photographers. As both of them had an adventurous nature, they shared many exciting hobbies like, for example, scuba diving. However, it was not long before the news about Prince William and Zsuzsi Starkloff’s affair traveled to England. On the excuse of the 1969 British Week, Buckingham Palace sent Princess Margaret over to Tokyo to convince the prince to put an end to his scandalous relationship with the Hungarian divorcee and look elsewhere for a wife.
According to a centuries-old royal decree, the royal marriages act of 1772, those who are in succession to the throne have to ask permission from the British sovereign to approve their marriage, otherwise, it could be declared null and void. William’s intention to wed the Hungarian divorcée was greeted with great horror by the royal family. They had labelled Zsuszi as the next Mrs Simpson, an American socialite and divorcée whose affair with Edward VIII triggered the Abdication Crisis in 1938. Apart from her marital status, the Hungarian model was also older than the prince and of Jewish origin. The royals finally managed to claim back their errant prince by ordering him to take over his father’s estate at Northamptonshire. The unhappy prince decided that duty came first and returned to England but he kept sending telegraphs to Zsuzsi to meet up in New York City. However, the reunion never took place. On 28 August 1972, at the age of 30, Prince William suffered a fatal crash during an air race.
“He died wearing my ring. And I still think about him every day!”
recalled Zsuzsi Starkloff in an exclusive interview. The glamorous Hungarian beauty, who could have married into the British royal family, lived until age 83 in a secluded mountain-top town in Colorado, thousands of miles away from the House of Windsor which caused her downfall. She died in 2002, after a long battle with cancer.
To learn about the tragic love affair in more detail, watch this fascinating documentary below!
Source: you.co.uk, hungarianfreepress.com, dailymail.co.uk