Passion: /ˈpaʃ(ə)n/ strong amorous feeling or desire; love; ardour
A fiercely intense passion, an infatuated excitement, a concentrated and powerful love. — there is no other way to describe the thrilling and dynamic romance between the breathtakingly beautiful Elizabeth Taylor and the hopelessly handsome Richard Burton — a great love story filled so completely with profound passion and love for one another, it was ultimately their undoing . . .
The violet-eyed beauty of the silver screen — ever glamorous, ever striking and ever watched by the world, wherever she would go and the wonderfully attractive Welsh actor — never formally trained, but undisputedly one of greatest classical actors of the 20th century. Mention one name, and the other immediately springs to mind — though not lasting forever, this turbulent and exhilarating romance is a great love story for the history books.
First meeting in Rome on the set of Cleopatra in 1961 [above], their relationship began somewhat appallingly, as both were already married. Richard was completely smitten with the beautiful actress — their first kiss was while shooting a scene for the movie and lasted long after the director yelled, ‘cut!’ A romance was inevitable, despite the warnings from friends & backlash from the media . . .
“I knew what I was doing, loving Richard, was wrong, but I couldn’t help it. It was a fact I couldn’t evade.”
The pair finally married in March 1964, with the ceremony held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montreal. The ceremony was a seemingly simple affair for this glamorous, luxury-loving couple, with Elizabeth wearing an empire style chiffon gown in daffodil yellow, and scores of lily of the valley and white hyacinths in her jet-black hair [above]. The only other adornment worn by Elizabeth was an emerald and diamond brooch given to her by the love of her life.
This tempestuous romance carried on for ten years, with many famously public rows and reconciliations. Highly passionate and ever grand, the pair adored the opulent, and Richard often lavished his beautiful wife with extravagant pieces of jewellery, most famously, a 70-carat flawless pear-shaped diamond ring, subsequently dubbed the Taylor-Burton Diamond.
During their years together, Richard wrote some forty love letters to the beautiful Elizabeth he was so infatuated with — some even, reportedly, while she was sleeping in the next room.
His adoration and knowledge of beautiful poetry is evident in the exquisite letters:
“My blind eyes are desperately waiting for the sight of you. You don’t realise of course, E.B., how fascinatingly beautiful you have always been, and how strangely you have acquired an added and special and dangerous loveliness.”
However romantic they could be, eventually, the constant arguments and temper-tantrums became all too much, and in July 1973 they announced a mutual decision to separate. Elizabeth was quoted as saying: “Maybe we loved each other too much — I never believed such a thing was possible, pray for us.”
Their divorce was finalised in October 1974, but was, however, unwittingly short lived; first reconciling over dinner in Switzerland, they later remarried in October 1975, in Botswana. Elizabeth eccentrically wore a dress of green lace and guinea fowl feathers in her hair. Following the wedding, the drama and conflict that was detrimental to their first marriage became all too evident and they divorced again after just ten short months.
“I love Richard with every fiber of my soul, but we can’t be together. We’re too mutually self-destructive.’”
Elizabeth and Richard never remarried again, but maintained a great love for each other that was immediately apparent whenever they spoke of one another. Richard tragically died in 1984 and Elizabeth was heart broken.
Attentive, loving — that was Richard. The bond with all of us continued until he drew his last breath. In my heart, I will always believe we would have been married a third and final time — from those first moments in Rome we were always madly and powerfully in love . . .
“I fell in love with her at once. She was like a mirage of beauty of the ages, irresistible, like a pull of gravity. She has everything I want in a woman.”
— Richard Burton
Dramatic from start to finish, the passion so evident between this powerfully emotional pair still thrills those who read their story over thirty years on. Ironically, it was their passion and necessity for each other that meant they could never remain together . . .
Ultimately, it was just too intense. But despite not having a fairy-tale ending, there is simply no denying this fervent and fiery romance is truly, a great love story.