For all the drama that comes from the modern royal family—including the feuding, the court cases, and the full-on moves to California—it all seems pretty tame when compared to the royal family of the past. The Crown may give an indication about what was going on, but a new letter shows that, during the early 20th century, things were even saucier.
Recall that, before Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI, assumed the throne, it was expected that his brother, Edward VIII would take on the role as King. However, his betrothal to the divorced American woman Wallace Simpson was such an existential threat to the seriousness of the monarchy at the time that he abdicated in 1936 to be with her, thus paving the way for Queen Elizabeth’s 70-plus year reign. (Side note: Isn’t it weird to look at what was considered scandalous just 100 years ago?)
But the new letter shows that, before any of that, Edward and George (who went affectionately as “Bertie,” as you may recall from The King’s Speech) were just two playboys about town, albeit also future kings of England. Written in 1919, before George’s marriage to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the letter is from Edward to his then-lover Freda Dudley Ward and discusses a dubious romance plot.
According to the Mirror, the note details a plot to pair up George with his crush, Lady Sheila Loughborough, who was married at the time to Lord Loughborough. Edward writes that, in order to give “Bertie” time along with Lady Sheila, he convinced Lord Loughborough to play a round of golf with him: “"After tea I managed to lure Loughie (Lord Loughborough) away on the pretext of wanting to play a few more holes of golf on the local course, so as to give Sheilie a chance of being alone with Bertie; they said they were tired & we left them..."
The note doesn’t give much more about what happened, but the mischievous plan apparently worked and the two had some alone time. Mostly, you’ve got to admire Edward’s ability to give a silly nickname to every single character he writes about. And if you really love the old-school royal drama and want to make this handwritten part of history your own, now’s your chance: The letter is going up for auction at the London-based Forum Auctions on February 10, with a starting bid of £2,500, which seems fairly reasonable!
And it’s sort of comforting to know that, where royal scandals are concerned, everything old is new again.
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