Personal effects of Wallis Simpsons raise over £1,700 at auction in Lichfield

Items belonging to Wallis Simpson, the late Duchess of Windsor whose love led to the abdication of a King, have raised over £1,700 at an auction in Lichfield.

 The pair of Bergere gold-plated clip on earrings, in a red and gilt case with an interlinked WE – for Wallis and Edward – below a coronet
The pair of Bergere gold-plated clip on earrings, in a red and gilt case with an interlinked WE – for Wallis and Edward – below a coronet

A pair of earrings, five fabric and suede belts, and a parcel of unused stationery went under the hammer at The Lichfield Auction Centre on Tuesday, surpassing auctioneers' expectations.

Auctioneer Richard Winterton was yielding the gavel. He said: “We had a huge amount of interest for these items which belonged to the duchess.

“They were acquired at auction in New York in 1998 by our vendor, who has always been fascinated by Wallis.

“Judging by the interest and flurry of bids, many share that fascination in a woman who continues to captivate people more than three decades after her death and nearly 90 years on from the constitutional crisis in Britain which led to the abdication of Edward VIII.

“Wallis is said to have summed up her life with the words: 'You have no idea how hard it is to live out a great romance.'

“These personal possessions continue to give collectors of Royal memorabilia a direct link to that life.”

Five belts which belonged to Wallis Simpson and fetched £850

The items fetched a total £1,730 - £500 for the earrings, £850 for the belts, and £380 for the stationery.

The earrings were a pair of Bergere gold-plated clip on earrings, which were in a red and gilt case with an interlinked WE – for Wallis and Edward.

The stationery comprised a blank invitation card with matching envelope, pre-printed with 'The Duchess of Windsor requests the pleasure of the company of...’ and letterheaded paper embossed with the duchess’ coat of arms and the address 4 route du Champ d'Entraînement, the house in the Bois de Boulogne in which the couple lived from 1952.

The items were all auctioned off after the duchess’ death in 1986, with these coming to sale again in the late 1990s when they were bought by the vendor, a collector from Staffordshire.

Sarah Williams, senior valuer at Richard Winterton Auctioneers, said: “It was so interesting to have my hands on these items which were personal possessions of one of the mid-20th century’s most recognisable figures.

“The stationery which bears the address where Wallis Simpson died tells its own story of a life of grandeur even in those latter days.

“The duchess wore fairly plain A-line dresses a lot of the time and would jazz the ensemble up with a decorative belt.

“In terms of living history these are fascinating items which hopefully well go on to delight other collectors of royal memorabilia.”

The parcel of unused stationery, which fetched £380

The romance of Mrs Simpson, a twice-divorced American, and King Edward VIII caused a constitutional crisis leading to Edward’s abdication in December 1936 less than a year after he became king.

After abdicating, the former king was made Duke of Windsor and married Wallis six months later.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor lived a celebrity high society life between Europe and America – although they never shook off suspicion dating back to WW2 of being Nazi sympathisers, having famously visited Hitler in Germany in 1937.

In 1952, municipal authorities offered the couple a home in Paris and they lived at 4 route du Champ d'Entraînement for the majority of the rest of their lives.

Following the duke's death from throat cancer in 1972, Wallis became increasingly frail and lived out her final years as a recluse, supported by her husband's estate and an allowance from the Queen.

She suffered several falls, broke her hip twice and, in 1980, lost the power of speech.

Bedridden towards the end, she received no visitors apart from medical care and died aged 89 on April 24, 1986 at that address in Paris.

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