Love letter sent by Edward VIII before he was King to be sold at auction

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A love letter sent from Edward VIII to his married mistress Freda Dudley Ward is to be sold at auction. (Cheffins/ PA)
A love letter sent from Edward VIII to his married mistress Freda Dudley Ward is to be sold at auction. (Cheffins/ PA)

A love letter from Edward VIII which reflects his disenchantment with life as a royal, years before he met Wallis Simpson is to be sold at auction.

The then-Prince of Wales wrote the four-page letter in 1919, aged 25, while aboard the ship HMS Renown as it took him on a royal tour of Canada.

He sent it to his mistress Freda Dudley Ward, who was at the time married to Liberal MP William Dudley Ward.

Their affair continued until 1934, only ending when Edward became involved with American socialite Wallis Simpson, who he met in 1930.

Edward reigned as king from January 1936 until December of the same year, when he abdicated to marry divorcee Mrs Simpson.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Edward and Wallis, in 1946 (PA) (PA Archive)
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Edward and Wallis, in 1946 (PA) (PA Archive)

Charles Ashton, a director at auctioneers Cheffins, said Edward’s 1919 letter to Mrs Dudley Ward gives a window into his “disenchantment with his life as a royal”.

In the letter, Edward referred to speeches he had made, writing: “What I think of all this official wonk and these cornie pompous stunts & I’ve made no less than 7 speeches today.”

He described Canadian prime minister Robert Borden, whom he had dined with, as “such a stick & deadly dull except re politics & I can’t tackle him on that subject”.

He told his mistress he would be spending a day at Prince Edward Island, one of eastern Canada’s maritime provinces, writing: “I don’t think it will be very strenuous as it’s such a pip squeak province”.

Expressing how much he misses her, he added: “I do love you, love you, my very own blessed little Fredie darling & I find life very hard & dour without you……it’s hell when we are parted sweetheart & when I can’t hear you say all your divine things which is what keeps me alive.”

Edward was known to have written hundreds of letters to Mrs Dudley Ward, many of which were destroyed or lost.

Mr Ashton, of Cheffins auctioneers, said: “Whilst the liaison between the Prince of Wales and Freda Dudley Ward came to an abrupt end when he fell in love with Wallis Simpson, theirs was an affair which lasted over 20 years and was well-known amongst high society circles, having been famously commented on as “quite pathetic” by Winston Churchill.

“The letters between the prince and his married lover are of importance as they shed light on the very personal feelings and passions of the future King Edward VIII, which strong sentiments then re-emerged in no less a way, in his love for Wallis Simpson.

“It is known that the couple first met during a Zeppelin raid in 1918 and it was from then onwards that their affair became serious, with the prince thought to have written well over 300 letters to her during the period and reported to have telephoned her four or five times per night.

“This letter provides a window into the passions of the future King Edward VIII and also his disenchantment with his life as a royal.”

The letter, accompanied by the original envelope bearing a black wax seal, is part of the Cheffins Library Sale auction in Cambridge on October 21.

It has a pre-sale estimate of £400 to £600 and is being sold by a private collector who asked to remain anonymous.

Mr Ashton said that collectors of letters “tend to seek out love letters in particular as they usually show more personality than other types of correspondence”.

He said he expected the letter to be “of interest to collectors from the UK and further afield”.

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