Valentine’s Day: The Greatest Acts of Love (part 1)
As Valentine’s day approaches we have searched through the archives (AKA done some googling…) for some beautiful acts of love and, of course, it wouldn’t be DeadHappy if they weren’t a little death related. Here’s some of our favourites
# VALENTINE’S DAY ACT OF LOVE 1
The Taj Mahal
Let’s start with a nice big famous one. The Taj Mahal is one of the world’s most beautiful buildings. The white marble mausoleum in the city of Agra has drawn millions of people to India, it’s image is familiar to most people in the world.
To architects and more technical eyes, the Taj Mahal is the finest surviving example of Mughal architecture (a blend of Indian, Islamic and Persian). To the rest of the world, it is a monument to love, built by a grief stricken man after the death of his beloved wife.
The story of Taj Mahal starts with a young prince Khurram and Arjumand Banu Begum who descended from Persian nobility. He was instantly under her spell, dazzled by her beauty and set his sights on marrying her.
After tying the knot, the prince gave his wife the title of Mumtaz Mahal or ‘Jewel of the Palace.’ Although having two other wives, Khurram famously said his feelings for Mumtaz ‘exceeded by a thousand times what he felt for the others’. Let’s just say I wouldn’t fancy being one of the other wives…
In 1627, when he succeeded to the throne as Shah Jahan, his trust in her was so great that he gave her his imperial seal, the Muhr Uzah. When Mumtaz died, giving birth to their 14th child, the Shah was so devastated by her death, he went into mourning for a whole year and built the Taj Mahal in her honour.
Over 22, 000 workers from all around the world were recruited to build the monument. The team included sculptors, stonemasons, carvers, painters, calligraphers, inlayers and many, many others.
At first it was a job of brute strength, bringing the translucent white marble blocks 120 miles from Rajasthan, using 1,000 elephants to transport the materials.
Then 28 kinds of precious and semi-precious stones – including onyx, amethyst, lapis lazuli, turquoise, jade and mother of pearl were brought from Russia, Persia, Afghanistan, China and Tibet to decorate his fabulous creation rising in Agra. The name Taj Mahal meaning ‘Crown Palace’, was taken from Mumtaz’s name and took 22 years to complete.
# VALENTINE’S DAY ACT OF LOVE 2
In 1930, Edward met Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee with a dodgy past. He fell madly in love with her. When upon the death of his father in 1936 Edward inherited the throne as Edward VIII, his first plan was to marry Willis. However, the British prime minister disagreed with Edward marrying a divorcee.
What followed was an act of stubbornness and determination that shocked and fascinated the British society…
King Edward was given three options: give up Wallis, keep Wallis and the government would resign, or give up the throne. For Eddy the choice was obvious: he would abdicate and marry Mrs. Wallie Simpson.
The same year he became king, Edward VIII signed the papers that would end his rule.
So Ed did something that monarchs don’t usually do. Firstly, falling in love. Secondly, marrying a married woman, already once divorced. And thirdly, in order to do that, he was willing to give up the British throne.
To some people, this was the love story of the century, to others however it was a scandal that threatened to weaken the monarchy.
In reality, the story of King Edward VIII and Mrs. Wallis Simpson never fulfilled either of these notions; instead, the story is about a prince who simply wanted to be like everyone else.
# VALENTINE’S DAY ACT OF LOVE 3
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
From the beginning of their relationship to Albert’s sad passing, the love affair between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert showed a kinder, warmer, loving side to the Queen. It was far from love at first sight however, from Victoria’s side anyway. They first met in 1836 when Albert travelled from Germany to London for Victoria’s 17th birthday. After that first meeting Albert had written to Victoria a load of times.
It is reported that he then visited her in 1839 to confront her about stringing him along. It seemed to work, as 5 days later Victoria proposed to Albert, as custom dictated (not because it was a leap year).
Albert, very sadly, died of typhoid in 1861. Victoria was absolutely devastated and built him a mausoleum and a shire in Windsor Castle. She even put changes of clothes and fresh water in her deceased husband’s washing bowl. Victoria never travelled without him, or when she absolutely had to, took a large portrait of him with her. She also kept a smaller one by her bed so she could wake up to his face every morning. Up until her death in 1901, she mourned Albert and as part of that, wore black every day for the 40 years after his death. That’s devotion (or black was simply her favourite colour, we’ll never know…).
Enjoyed the read? Why not give part 2 a go…