Edward VIII’s visitors’ books showing how former King and Wallis Simpson had guests including Winston Churchill and Lord Mountbatten at their French home are tipped to sell for £30,000
- First book is embossed with the name of Edward’s official home Fort Belvedere
- He used it until 1958, when Wallis gave him a virtually identical second volume
Edward VIII’s and Wallis Simpson’s visitors’ books featuring a ‘who’s who’ of 20th century figures have emerged for sale for £30,000.
The two red leather books were filled in by hundreds of VIPs who stayed with them or visited at various locations between 1935 and 1970.
High profile guests included Winston Churchill, who they invited to their French Riviera retreat in 1948.
Other visitors were Prime Minister Antony Eden, Lord Tennyson and Earl Louis ‘Dickie’ Mountbatten.
They reveal that Equerry Ulick Alexander, adviser Walter Monckton and solicitor Albert George Allen stayed with the Windsors during the abdication crisis of December 1936.
Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson ‘s visitors’ books featuring a ‘who’s who’ of 20th century figures have emerged for sale for £30,000. High profile guests include Winston and Clementine Churchill, who they invited to their French Riviera retreat in 1948
Edward stepped down as King after 11 months so he could marry American divorcee Simpson
Edward stepped down as King after 11 months so he could marry American divorcee Simpson.
The first visitor book is embossed with ‘The Fort’, the name of Fort Belvedere – Edward’s much-loved Windsor home where he signed the abdication papers.
It is also marked with the name of the Austrian castle where Edward and Wallis spent their honeymoon after getting married in 1937.
Although he had intended to return to live in Fort Belvedere the former King was barred from doing so by his brother and so never went back.
He and Wallis spent the rest of their lives living in exile in the Bahamas and France and entertained many high society figures.
There are signatures from Edward’s younger brother Prince George and his wife Princess Marina.
Other names include the Earl and Countess of Portarlington, and the Dukes of Buccleuch, Sutherland and Marlborough.
The first visitor book is embossed with ‘The Fort’, the name of Fort Belvedere – Edward’s much-loved Windsor home where he signed the abdication papers
Also featured are NBC broadcaster Fred Bate, interior designers Sibyl Colefax and Constance Spry, Eugene and Kitty de Rothschild, Prince Dmitri Alexandrovich Romanov and the British biographer James Pope-Hennessy.
The Windsors’ monograms evolved as their status changed – ‘Edward RI and Wallis W Simpson’ became ‘Edward Duke of Windsor and Wallis Duchess of Windsor’.
The first visitors book was a gift from Simpson to Edward for Christmas in 1934.
She wrote to her aunt in Washington that she had given him ‘two red leather books, one for the card accounts and one a guest book’.
She had a near-identical second volume made for him after they filled up the first book in 1958.
The books, containing hundreds of signatures, were gifted by Simpson to her French lawyer and carer Suzanne Blum.
She passed them on to the present owner, who helped administer Simpson’s estate after her death in 1986.
The visitors books are going under the hammer at London-based auctioneers Bonhams.
Matthew Haley, manuscripts specialist at Bonhams, said: ‘These are the remarkable visitors’ books that accompanied the Duke and Duchess of Windsor throughout their travels and travails.
‘They are really extraordinary and like a cross section of their lives.
‘It is fascinating to see who they were meeting, where and when.
‘Their details and monograms change over time, as he went from the Prince of Wales to King and then the Duke of Windsor.
The first visitor book is also marked with the name of the Austrian castle where Edward and Wallis spent their honeymoon after getting married in 1937. Above: The page bearing the mark of the castle, as well as Wallis and Edward’s own signatures
Fort Belvedere became the main residence of the future King Edward VIII in 1929, when he was the Prince of Wales. Above: The exterior of the property pictured in 2006
‘His guests during the 11 months of his reign signed the book, including those who accompanied him on the Nahlin cruise in August, and those who stayed at Balmoral in September 1936.
‘Towards the end of the year, signers include those who came to see him in connection with the abdication crisis – Walter Monckton, George Allen, Esmond Harmsworth and others.
‘When Edward left England after abdicating, he took with him the (first) visitors book, which is a curious catalogue of exile.
‘It covers the Windsors’ wartime period in the Bahamas, their post-war trip to the UK, and the reigniting of their friendship with Churchill.
‘The original album given to the duke by his future wife was completed in 1958 and another near-identical volume was ordered from Smythson.
‘It was signed by all the subsequent guests until the duke’s declining health prevented them from receiving further visitors there.
‘The final entry is dated March 7, 1970, two years and two months before his death.’
Edward died aged 77 in 1972.
The sale takes place tomorrow.
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