The trial of French socialite Marguerite Fahmy for the murder of her wealthy husband at the Savoy Hotel was the sensation of its day.
At around 2am on 10 July 1923 a porter heard three shots coming from their luxury suite and ran to the door to see 22 year-old Ali Fahmy slumped against the wall. He had been shot in the head.
After throwing the gun to the floor, Mrs Fahmy, 32, was heard to say repeatedly ‘Qu’est-ce que j’ai fait, mon cher?’ (What have I done, my dear?). She also told the porter ‘J’ai perdu la tete’ – which was translated both as ‘I lost my head’ or ‘I was frightened out of my wits.’
Mrs Fahmy went on trial at the Old Bailey in September 1923. Her defence was that her husband had tried to strangle her and then advanced towards her with a Browning .32 pistol. She took the gun from him and pointed it at his head before opening fire.
Her barrister Edward Marshall Hall portrayed Mr Fahmy as a violent, abusive husband with unnatural sexual demands.
The prosecution were refused the right to cross-examine Mrs Fahmy about her previous history of relations with other men – it was said she was a high-class escort and former teenage prostitute in Paris and Bordeaux.
On 14 September the jury acquitted her of all charges after less than an hour’s deliberation. Mrs Fahmy walked free from court and returned to Paris, where she died in 1971.
In 2013 it was claimed in the book The Prince, the Princess and the Perfect Murder by Andrew Rose that Marguerite Fahmy (also known by the surnames Alibert and Meller) was a former lover of King Edward VIII.