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    Wallis Duchess of Windsor Autograph Letter Signed "Wallis Windsor," five pages, 7.25" x 10.5", four separate sheets with the concluding page on verso of the fourth sheet with show-through. "on board Queen Elizabeth," Saturday, November ninth, no year but "1946" penned in an unknown hand at upper right. To Laura. Penned on her yellow-bordered lightweight royal stationery. In part, "Many thanks for the lovely roses and gardenias and for the wine - We were sad to leave but finally dragged ourselves off around 3:30 because we thought we might be fogbound - however the drive was clear - we found people swarming over this ship like ants - 2000 in all - we are very comfortable and have found a few friends among them...It really was a lovely stay in England and it would never have been as nice if you and Eric had not loaned us Ednam Lodge - I can only hope that every servant etc is not leaving as a result and that you found everything in order...Love to you both from the Duke and myself..." Frances Laura Charteris ("Laura") and William Humble Eric Ward, 3rd Earl of Dudley ("Eric") were married from 1943 until their divorce in 1954. Ednam Lodge in Sunningdale, Berkshire, was the home of the Earl and Countess of Dudley, but in October 1946 they took up temporary lodgings at Claridges Hotel in London so the Duke and Duchess of Windsor could make a private visit to England, their first visit together since 1939. The royal family had sanctioned their visit only if there was a minimum of publicity and display. On October 16th, the Duke and Duchess made a visit to London. The October 28, 1946 issue of Time magazine reported that "while the Windsors were in London (he at the Palace to see the King, she, excluded, to have tea with an unnamed friend), a nimble burglar had slipped past two Scotland Yard detectives, clambered up a drainpipe at rambling, red brick Ednam Lodge and gained entrance to the Windsors' white-walled bedroom. He went to a Gladstone bag, removed a brown leather jewel case. From a small leather box on the Duke's bedside table, he plucked a valuable watch. Two hundred yards away, he stopped, picked through the jewel case, discarded some inexpensive hatpins. Then he drove away. According to the Duchess, he had stolen every jewel she owned except those she had on. The loss: (Windsor's estimate) $80,000." There were unfounded rumors that the royal family had orchestrated the robbery in order to take back jewels that belonged to them. The unsolved case was closed in 1961 and to this day the jewelry has never been recovered. As for the friendship between Wallis and Laura, the Duchess insisted that the staff be questioned about the burglary but the Countess of Dudley later wrote that her friend was revealing "an unpleasant and to me unexpected side of her character...She wanted all the servants put through a kind of third degree." (from The Duchess of Windsor: The Uncommon Life of Wallis Simpson by Greg King). Were they still friends? Well, this letter was sold by Laura just a few years later; it was offered for sale by an autograph dealer in 1950 for $6.50! The upper corners of the first page have been torn off, else in fine condition. It would be an interesting addition to a royalty collection.

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    February, 2008
    21st-22nd Thursday-Friday
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