private photos of King Edward VIII and his mistress Wallis Simpson on
a controversial cruise that triggered the start of the his abdication
crisis have been discovered.
23 MAY 2016 •
The lost photo album
of 200 holiday snaps has been locked in a safe for the last 80 years
along with a treasure trove of gifts and mementos relating to the
playboy monarch and his divorcee lover.
It has now been
uncovered by the granddaughter of Herman Rogers, who along with his
wife Katherine, was great friends of the couple and joined them on
the cruise around the Adriatic Sea.
Against the advice
of his government, Edward went on an extended summer holiday with
American socialite Wallis in the first year of his reign in 1936.
Mr Rogers took the
photos of the couple, whose illicit relationship at that stage was
not known to the British public.
The black and white
photos include ones of them swimming in the sea, enjoying picnics and
of a bare-chested and scrawny-looking Edward posing in front of a
Greek beauty spot.
When they returned
to Britain the foursome continued the festivities at Balmoral Castle
in Scotland and there are more photos showing the King amusingly
dressed in a deer-stalking cloak with his cousin, Louis Mountbatten,
stood next to him.
Weeks after the
photos were taken Edward announced his intention to marry Wallis,
sparking a constitutional crisis.
The news was met
with widespread disapproval by the Church of England as Wallis was a
divorcee and also caused a major public scandal.
By December of that
year Edward chose to abdicate the throne so he could marry Wallis.
His younger brother, George VI, then became King.
As well as the photo
album, the newly-discovered archive includes a beautiful gold Cartier
cigarette case Edward and Wallis gifted to Mr Rogers at their wedding
in June 1937.
Mr Rogers gave
Wallis away and on the inside lid of the case is an inscription that
reads 'We will never forget a great friendship. Edward and Wallis.'
The dates beneath
the wording - December 5, 1936 and June 3, 1937 - are for when Edward
abdicated and their wedding.
The items have been
locked away in a safe for generations at the Rogers' family home in
Canada and have now been unearthed by his granddaughter.
They are now coming
up for sale in London for a total estimate of £60,000.
Taylor said: "You think you have seen it all and there is
nothing left to come out and then something fresh and quite exciting
emerges for the first time after all these years.
hasn't been seen before. It has literally been in a safe in a
basement of a house in Canada for the last 80 years.
granddaughter didn't really know about it but luckily realised it was
of great importance when it was found. She doesn't feel emotionally
attached to the items and has decided to sell them.
photographs are quite remarkable.
"This was in
August 1936 and at that stage the British public knew nothing of
Edward's relationship with Wallis.
"He had only
been King for a few months and decided to charter a yacht, The
Nahlin, and go off on this cruise with Wallis. The Prime Minister
advised against it but Edward pretty much said that he was King and
he could do what he liked
joined them and were very savvy with a lot of foresight because they
realised they in the middle of something very historic and took
photographs and kept mementoes from this time.
clearly illustrate the romance and growing closeness between Edward
and Wallis, who was still married at the time. They are lovely photos
and show a happy couple who are quite carefree.
"The King is
shown swimming and sunbathing bare-chested. This was Queen Victoria's
grandson and for Edward to be seen in public bare-chested was quite
"Wallis is seen
sporting rather unflattering rubber bathing hats and elasticated one
pictures Wallis was thinking that she was going to be the next Queen
of the United Kingdom, they didn't know of what was coming round the
cruise Edward didn't want the party to end and insisted they all go
to Balmoral afterwards.
astonishing to see any private Royal photographs but to find 200 of
them in one album that chart the illicit romance of the king who gave
away his Empire for the woman he loved is just remarkable."
The album is valued
The Cartier sapphire
encrusted cigarette case Edward and Wallis gave to Mr Rogers is
valued at £30,000 while a matching compact case gifted to Mrs Rogers
is worth £20,000.
The guest book for
the couple's villa in Cannes, south of France, that documents VIPs
who visited them in the 1920s and '30s is also for sale.
Wallis, who was
great friends with the Rogers before she met Edward, visited the
villa regularly and signed her name according to who she was married
to at the time.
In June 1923 she
signed as Wallis Warfield Spencer, having married Earl Spencer in
1916 and then in 1929 she signed as Wallis Warfield Simpson, having
married her second husband Ernest Simpson in 1928.
The guest book is
valued at £5,000.
There is also
Balmoral-headed stationery that still bears black edging to mark the
mourning of the death of Edward's father, King George V.
The piece of paper
is signed by Edward, Wallis and Louis Mountbatten. It is valued at
Other gifts for sale
nclude an 18th century engraved silver salver, given by Edward and
Wallis when they were the Duke and Duchess of Windsor after the
abdication crisis. It is valued at £3,000.
And a 1823
silver-gilt snuff box given by them to the Rogers at Christmas 1948
and worth £3,000 makes up the archive.
The items will be
sold at Kerry Taylor Auctions on June 14.
for Fashion’ 14th June 2016
The gifts, mementoes
and private photographs originally belonged to Katherine and Herman
Rogers – lifelong friends of Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII.
They were discovered by Herman Roger’s grand-daughter in a safe
after the death of her grandmother. Herman Rogers was good-looking,
athletic, well-educated and the son of the American millionaire
railroad tycoon Archibald Rogers. He and Katherine explored the
world, seeking out culture wherever they went.
The Rogerses had
been friends with Wallis since the 1920s. In 1924 the couple offered
her refuge at their home in Peking after the failure of her marriage
to her first husband – Earl Winfield Spencer, a reputedly alcoholic
and abusive US naval pilot from a rich and socially prominent
Baltimore family. In June 1928 she stayed with them again in another
of their beautiful homes near Cannes in the south of France – Villa
Lou Viei, where she signed herself in the guest book (lot 204,
estimate £3000-5000) ‘Wallis Warfield Spencer’ – taking her
husband’s name despite their divorce in December the previous year.
The guest book tellingly records other trips to Lou Viei
The collection also
includes an intriguing album of over 200 photographs (many previously
unseen) which clearly illustrates the romance and growing closeness
between Edward and Wallis (lot 202, estimate £1500-2500).
On January 20th,
1936, everything was to change. King George V died and his eldest son
Edward (or David as close friends and family referred to him) acceded
to the throne. In August the same year, the un-crowned King made an
ill-judged decision to go on an Adriatic cruise, taking with him
Wallis (who was still married to Mr Simpson) and a small group of
friends, including the Rogerses. The fact that Spain was in the
throes of a civil war and there was unrest in the Balkans did not
deter him, despite government advice to the contrary. The photographs
taken by Herman Rogers record for posterity this notorious ‘Nahlin’
The chartered Nahlin
yacht was partially re-fitted for the cruise, with the on-board
library being ripped out and converted into a large master bedroom
for the couple. The King appears in the photographs swimming and
sunbathing bare-chested (which caused much comment in the overseas
press at the time). Wallis sports rather unflattering rubber bathing
hats, elasticated one piece swimsuits or shelters under parasols (not
for her the new-fangled sun-tan). Whilst Britain remained unaware of
the royal romance (thanks to acquiescent press barons who quashed all
mention), in the US and Continental Europe the affair was widely
reported as Wallis’ aunt Bessie (who lived in the US) was to inform
her upon her return to France at the end of the trip. Not all of the
coverage was flattering.
As a memento of
Rogers’ stay at the castle, the King and other guests signed a
piece of Balmoral Castle stationery (lot 203, estimate £2000-3000).
Just three months
after the highly publicised Nahlin cruise and Scottish holiday, the
King finally decided to abdicate his throne, triggering a
constitutional crisis. He had put his own desires and comfort above
his Royal duty as King – being unable to rule without the woman he
loved beside him. In consequence he was demoted in rank to HRH the
Duke of Windsor. Wallis, after being hounded day and night by the
press, again took refuge with Herman and Katherine Rogers at Lou Viei
in France and recorded in her memoirs:
‘As the moment
approached, everyone at Lou Viei, including the domestic staff,
gathered around the radio in the sitting room. David’s (the
informal given name for Edward) voice came out of the loudspeaker
calmly, movingly. I was lying on the sofa with my hands over my eyes,
trying to hide my tears. After he finished, the others quietly went
away and left me alone. I lay there a long time before I could
control myself enough to walk through the house and go upstairs to my
It was to Katherine
and Herman that Wallis turned to for help with the impending wedding
which was to take place on June 3rd, 1937. They had been loaned the
Chateau de Candé in the Loire by the American businessman Charles
Bedaux. The Rogerses took with them the Lou Viei guest book and
recorded the wedding guests and their dates of arrival. There were
only 28 names listed including the married couple – others were the
society florist Constance Spry (who arranged the flowers), and R.
Anderson Jardine (the rebel vicar who officiated at the ceremony
without the consent of the Church of England, which was to cost him
his job). Cecil Beaton’s photographs of the event show the couple
looking rather strained, with forced smiles.
The wedding was a
relatively low-key, muted affair. Edward was used to the pomp and
ceremony of large Royal occasions, with crowds of flag-waving
patriots lining the streets. Most British aristocracy and
establishment now shunned the couple and disapproved of the marriage.
Poignantly, not one member of the Royal Family attended despite the
Duke’s heartfelt pleas. Edward VIII had chosen to follow his own
personal desires rather than putting duty and his country first –
something that was not to be forgotten or forgiven by the British
On the wedding day,
Herman was given the important role of walking Wallis down the aisle
and giving her hand in matrimony. As a token of their gratitude he
was presented with a beautiful
Other gifts to them
include lot 207, the 18th century engraved silver salver, given by
the Duke & Duchess of Windsor to Herman when he remarried in
1950, estimate £2000-3000 and lot 201, a 1823 silver-gilt snuff box
given by the Duke & Duchess of Windsor as a gift to Katherine and
Herman Rogers, Christmas 1948, estimate £2000-3000.
The collection will
be sold as part of our ‘Passion or Fashion’ auction, Tuesday June