With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, love and relationships are on everyone’s mind. There are plenty of swoonworthy couples in literature; Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester, Bert and Ernie…
Romeo and Juliet are often held up as the pinnacle of romantic love, but I’m not so sure we should be taking relationship advice from a pair of fictional teens who committed suicide just days after meeting each other. Here instead, for your consideration, are some real life power couples more worthy of admiration.
Marc Antony & Cleopatra
Perhaps the most famous instance in all history of love at first sight, Marc and Cleo’s affair really ticked off the Romans — but that didn’t stop them getting married. And sure, they both died untimely deaths, but not many couples can say their romance turned Egypt into a formidable political power. So there’s that.
Alexander & Hephaestion
Hephaestion was one of Alexander the Great’s most loyal companions, following and advising him as he conquered much of the known world. But there’s also a widely accepted consensus among academics that the two were lovers. Following Hephaestion’s death, Alexander went mad with grief, and died shortly after… some say of a broken heart. The two of them have been compared to Ulysses and Patroclus from Homer’s Iliad; best friends as boys, who became soulmates as men, and went to war side by side, fighting to keep each other safe.
Napoleon & Josephine
The older, sophisticated and socially savvy Josephine was the perfect other half to the arrogant and rude Napoleon. Together, they became the Emperor and Empress of Europe. And while they eventually separated, due to their inability to produce an heir together (plus a handful of affairs on both sides), it has been said their passion for each other never died.
Queen Victoria & Prince Albert
It isn’t too much of a stretch to suggest that Victoria would not have had nine children with Albert if she didn’t fancy him at least a little bit. Indeed, in her teenage diary, she wrote quite lustily of seeing him in his long johns. Their summer home was even designed specifically so that neither of them had to leave the marital bed; the bedroom door could be locked automatically by remote control. And following Albert’s death, Victoria never stopped mourning; she wore black for another forty years, while continuing to sit on the throne that Albert helped her stabilise while other monarchies in Europe were toppling.
Barack & Michelle Obama
There is arguably nothing else in the world that puts pressure on a marriage quite like being President of the United States, but Barack and Michelle weathered eight years in the White House together with nary a whiff of scandal. And while Barack was the most powerful man in the world for quite some time, he never stopped treating Michelle like a queen. Which is more than can be said for the couple who recently moved in…