We all know that a huge number of marriages end in divorce today. While it makes the headlines on an almost daily basis today, divorce was once the thing of juicy scandal, whether it was for reasons of infidelity, incest, or some rather doubtful virgin births. World War I couple John and Christabel Russell were in the middle of their divorce, platonic affair was such a bizarre and lurid affair that George V was rather outraged that he had to read about it in the papers every day.
He was so outraged, in fact, that British laws were changed to forbid the press from running coverage of divorce cases. Russell, heir to Lord Ampthill. Christabel was an independent woman who owned her own dress shop in London and who loved to go dancing night after night—and her wild social life earned her more than a few male admirers, even after her marriage. John, on the other hand, was the offspring of rather stuffy parents who solemnly disapproved of his bride. He was known as being something of a friendly pushover, and when he did attend parties, he was often dressed like a woman. In 1921, Christabel found out that she was pregnant.
Although the news was first broken by a psychic medium, it was confirmed by a doctor, who also claimed that Christabel was still a virgin. With John often called away on military service, Christabel wasn’t precisely left on her own. Her family had already spent time doing damage control thanks to her many, many nights out with her many, many admirers, and when a baby entered the picture, they’d had enough. According to Christabel, her pregnancy came about one night when she’d found John sleepwalking, so she took it upon herself to consummate the marriage without him knowing. John claimed that the baby clearly wasn’t his, but with the doctors still proclaiming her virginity, there was an issue.