I’m the King’s favourite mistress – but is this as good as it gets?
I’m 18 years old and already the King’s favourite mistress. It’s all happened very quickly: five years ago I was selling oranges in a theatre, discount cialis now I have money, fine clothes, jewels and a house on Pall Mall – all paid for by the King.
I’ve recently had myself painted almost completely naked for him. It’s far more explicit than portraits of his other women (posh girls show no more than one breast it seems, even shameless Barbara Villiers) so I’m confident it will secure my place in the King’s affections.
But recently I’ve started to wonder if there might be more to my position than this. I’ve proved that I’m willing and shown that I’m witty – but might I also be wise? If I offer my mind to the King, along with every other part of me, might I enjoy this position for the rest of my life?— Yours, Nell Gwyn
Let's make one thing absolutely clear: as royal mistress, it is not the King's mind you are supposed to stimulate...
Please, dear Nell, remember that your entire good fortune depends on the King. Entertain him in any way you can, but it’s not your wisdom or advice he seeks. But don’t be disheartened, you are lucky beyond reckoning…from rags to riches without much having to get out of bed (thought I suppose this is quite the point).
Now, it’s well known that the King has had many women - and will probably be attracted to many more. Here are my top-three tips for outlasting the competition (and you should thank my noble Lord Rochester for these):
1. Be the King’s faithful friend: don’t stir up his anger against others; let him forget his troubles when he’s with you, and never, ever, pretend to be jealous of his other women. Politics should stay out of the bedchamber - don’t let those meddlesome politicians persuade you to pass on their opinions. Because of your – shall we say – 'interesting' family background, you are gloriously free from greedy relatives and aristocratic hangers-on. This is your great advantage over other mistresses and Court beauties.
2. His pleasure will become your pleasure: comply with his desires and contribute to his pleasures all you can – with hand, body, head, heart and all the faculties you have. For as you have already seen, giving pleasure to the King is the surest way of securing it for yourself!
3. Consider playing dirty tricks. I'm not talking about what you do alone with the King, you clearly need no instruction in that area, but in how you gain advantage over your rivals. A humourous nickname perhaps, or imaginative practical joke: your sense of humour is, I am told, greatly appreciated by the King. And, as they say, a mistress in the hand is worth two on the books … so make sure you’re the one to hand …
The best of luck to you.— Yours, Chiffinch
What was the outcome?
Nell’s rise from teenage theatre orange-seller, to actress, to royal mistress, had also seen her progress from the actor Charles Hart, to the courtier Charles Sackville, and then to Charles Stuart. Charles II was, in Nell’s own words, her ‘Charles the Third’.
Her longevity as Charles’s ‘pretty, witty Nell’ (compared to other mistress-actresses like Moll Davies and plenty more besides) was testament not just to her physical attractions but to a fabled sense of humour, and a complete faithfulness to her royal lover unrivalled, seemingly, by any of Charles’s other mistresses. Nell was also relatively independent from the cliques and familial interests that surrounded aristocratic beauties. Generally, mistresses who had been explicitly pushed forward as part of a campaign to influence the King did not last long; Charles did not care to have his leisure time interrupted by a political agenda