It was a love story that changed the course of British history and rocked the monarchy. This is perhaps why a car, said to have been used to sneak Wallis Simpson in and out of Balmoral during her relationship with Edward VIII, is expected to fetch a whopping six figure sum when it goes up for auction in just a few weeks time.
The Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost shooting brake, used by Edward in Scotland, is predicted to change hands for around £120,000 when it comes under the hammer in Lincolnshire on June 20th. It was owned by Edward at the time his relationship with Mrs Simpson was underway, but while it was still a secret from much of the British population. The design of this particular car is now adding a new chapter to this still controversial romance.
For the back section of the Rolls Royce has black silk blinds which can be lowered over the windows – an unusual feature on this type of vehicle. Damian Jones, the Sales Director at H&H Classics which is selling the car, said that the shooting brake was a kind of utility vehicle designed for the bumpy roads and rough conditions leading to some hunts. Jones added: “Why you would need black out blinds is anyone’s guess”.
The main guess is that they were installed in this car to allow Mrs Simpson to go to and from Balmoral without anyone spotting her. Damian Jones commented that as Edward’s hunting car the vehicle was “used for trips to remote parts of the Scottish countryside where he would effectively have been in the middle of nowhere and privacy wouldn’t usually be an issue”. However, they certainly would have helped at Balmoral where Edward and his guests were under more scrutiny.
The relationship between Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson is one of the most famous and controversial royal romances of all time. They met when he was still Prince of Wales but by the time he succeeded his father as king, Edward was set on marrying Mrs Simpson who had already been wed twice before. The possibility of a divorcee becoming queen consort sent shockwaves through 1930s society.
The story of his determination to only reign with the ‘woman I love’ at his side and how that led to the Abdication Crisis of 1936 has been told many times. One of the reasons the whole event was so shocking to the British public at the time was the fact that most people knew little if anything of the relationship before King Edward VIII choosing between his throne and his lover was first mentioned. Rumours that the black out blinds in this car were among the ways that this royal romance was kept under wraps only adds to the intrigue.
Edward bought the car in 1923 when he ordered a bespoke walnut grain interior for it – the trend was soon copied by others. But there is no exact date for the installation of the black blinds in the back part of the car. As Prince of Wales, Edward had had several relationships with married women, but it is the dramatic way in which his affair with Wallis Simpson turned into marriage that has focused attention on whether the car was designed to help smuggle her into the Scottish royal residence.
Whatever the reason behind the strange design of this royal car, its link to Edward VIII alone will be enough to excite global attention when it is auctioned later this month. The possibility that it helped conceal one of the most famous romances of the 20th century will no doubt be discussed many times in the days to come as the story of Edward and Wallis continues to fascinate.
Photo credit: the lost gallery via Flickr