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British Royals

Never-before-seen photos of King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson released to the public for the first time

Many think that some of the events this year have been earth-shattering, however, wind the clock back eighty years.

In 1936, Britain is coming to terms with losing King George V whilst over in Europe the ominous threat of Hitler was beginning to grow steadily. Then the nation was further shocked when King Edward VIII expressed his desire to marry the divorcee Wallis Simpson, a desire which meant he would have to abdicate from the throne. Private pictures of that wedding which took place in the remote Château de Candé in deepest France, the following year, have been released for sale and expected  to bring in around £6000.

The pictures are not official posed photographs, rather seventeen photographs that were taken by Lady Metcalfe. These pictures are quite candid, as Lady Metcalfe was one of the witnesses of the wedding and the wife of Major Edward Metcalfe, the Duke of Windsor’s best man. Major Metcalfe was the Duke’s equerry from 1922,  they met in India when the Duke, who was then the Prince of Wales, was on tour.

In addition to views of the wedding and the party standing on a balcony of the chateau, the pictures also show the wedding breakfast and perhaps more poignantly, rows of empty chairs. The Duke had hoped that his younger brother, King George VI, who he had passed the crown over to would make the journey across the channel to be at his wedding.  That proved in the end to be a forlorn hope, in total there were less than twenty guests, a far cry from what we have seen at Westminster Abbey, or St Pauls for the past Royal weddings.

The pictures show us not only the layout in the library, but also the wedding breakfast table laid out complete with white flowers, in a wood-panelled dining room. Guests at the wedding included Randolph Churchill, son of Winston, and Baron Eugene de Rothschild. Though the chateau did not belong to the banking family, but in fact the Franco-American millionaire Charles Bedaux. He had over the previous decade upgraded the plumbing and wiring throughout the sixteenth-century chateau.