Sheila was born Sheila Chisholm, daughter of a wealthy Australian rancher, and came to England in 1913 to become successively Lady Loughborough, Lady Milbanke and Princess Dimitri. For some years she was the mistress of Prince ‘Bertie’, later to become King George VI (had he been as wilful as his brother there might have been a double Abdication Crisis and no monarchy today).
Wainwright’s biography records Sheila’s travels around Europe, America and Australia, her many social engagements and the numerous famous men who were her admirers and sometimes her lovers. In the 1920s she was widely reckoned to have been the most beautiful woman in London.
The post-war years are covered more succinctly, and the last decade of her life gets only a few lines. This is mainly because the author relies heavily on an unpublished account Sheila wrote of her own life in her sixties and never updated. He discovered this only after writing the first draft – what a rewrite!
An interesting insight into the lives of the gilded elite in the inter-war years.