Two hundred years ago, a stranger arrived in a sleepy village just north of Bristol, England, kickstarting one of the most bizarre mysteries ever to unfold. With her unusual clothing and impenetrable language, Princess Caraboo represented excitement and intrigue on a scale that the rural community had never seen before. And even though it was all a ruse, her story soon captivated the nation.
The toast of society
For months, Caraboo was the toast of English society, enchanting her hosts with her alluring beauty and strange customs. But then, a woman from her past happened upon a picture of the mysterious princess — and all hell broke loose. As the truth emerged, it became clear that the people of Almondsbury had succumbed to an elaborate scam.
So, who was this woman who came to be known as Princess Caraboo, and how did she wind up lost and alone in Gloucestershire? Was there any truth to the story she told? She claimed she’d escaped from a passing pirate ship and swum to shore, but was that so? Or were her real origins much closer to home?
The saga began on April 3, 1817, in Almondsbury, a small village located eight miles outside the bustling metropolis of Bristol in southwest England. Despite its proximity to the city, the community was a sleepy one, and not much out of the ordinary ever happened there. But soon, all that would change.
A stranger arrives
According to reports, it was a cobbler who first encountered the woman wandering the streets in a state of disorientation. Apparently, she was dressed in a black dress and wrapped in a red-accented shawl, with a black turban resting on top of her head. And although she was trying to communicate, it was in a language no one could understand.