THE POWER OF LOVE
text by Nancy Bilyeau and Fiona Clarke

In recognition of Valentine’s Day, we take a spin through history’s greatest lovers—star crossed, cursed, lifelong and everything in between. Couples in love have caused wars and controversy, created masterpieces in the arts and captured the heart of the public. From the allure of Cleopatra to the magnetism of the Kennedy’s, these love affairs have stood as markers in history.

PARIS & HELEN

She was another man’s wife, but when Paris, the “handsome, woman-mad” prince of Troy, saw Helen, the woman whom Aphrodite proclaimed the most beautiful in the world, he had to have her. Helen and Paris ran off together, setting in motion the decade-long Trojan War. Whether Helen actually existed is unclear, but her romantic part in the greatest epic of all time can never be forgotten. She will forever be “the face that launched a thousand ships.”

CLEOPATRA & MARK ANTONY

Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt, could have had anything or anyone she wanted, but she fell passionately in love with Roman General Mark Antony. ”Fool! Don’t you see now that I could have poisoned you a hundred times had I been able to live without you,” declared Cleopatra. But in 30 B.C, after they risked all in a war on Rome and lost, they chose to die together, ”I will be a bridegroom in my death, and run into it as to a lover’s bed,” said Antony. Cleopatra followed, by clasping a poisonous asp to her breast.

DANTE and BEATRICE      

Rarely has a woman served as such profound inspiration for a writer. The Italian poet Dante Alighieri wrote passionately of emerald-eyed beauty Beatrice in The Divine Comedy and other poems, but only met the object of his affection twice. The first time, they were youngsters. The second time, as adults, and while walking on the street in Florence, Beatrice turned and greeted Dante before continuing on her way. In 1290 Beatrice died at age 24 without Dante ever seeing her again. Nonetheless, she was “the glorious lady of my mind,” he wrote, and “she is my beatitude, the destroyer of all vices and the queen of virtue, salvation.”

WALLIS SIMPSON and KING EDWARD VIII

When Edward VIII fell in love with American divorcée Wallis Simpson it was an affair that shocked a nation. Due to strong opposition from the church and government over their marriage, Edward chose to abdicate the throne. “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love,” he said addressing the nation in 1936. Choosing love over kingship, the couple married and settled in France.

CAROLYN BESSETTE and JOHN F. KENNEDY, JR.

Indicative of their desire to keep their relationship private, Carolyn Bessette and John F. Kennedy Jr. secretly married on a small island in the outer banks of Georgia. Try as they might to live under the radar, their ups and downs were fodder for the paparazzi. As their love for one another became evident, public attention mounted and the couple became an iconic duo. Sadly, their lives were cut short when the couple tragically perished on July 16, 1999 in a plane crash piloted by JFK, Jr.

 AMAL and GEORGE CLOONEY

George Clooney, the Hollywood heartthrob and confirmed bachelor, falls for Amal, a brilliant human rights barrister. Sounds like a movie script, which makes this love story even more sweet. Introduced by a friend, the two began exchanging e-mails that Clooney comically penned as his dog Einstein. After six months of dating, while preparing dinner, he proposed to the song, “Why Shouldn’t I?” The couple balances their careers as well as parenting twins Ella and Alexander. 

MEGHAN MARKLE and PRINCE HARRY

Theirs is a love story that captures our hearts: Meghan, an American divorcée and TV star and Prince Harry. Married in May of 2018, they welcomed son Archie last April. Giving a modern take on the next generation of monarchy, the couple stepped away from the constraints of royal life to resettle in Canada. While enjoying a less stressful life, they plan to continue their charitable endeavors.