A gushing love letter Edward VIII, then Prince of Wales, sent to his long-standing mistress, Freda Dudley Ward, will go under the hammer as part of the Cheffins Library Sale on 21st October.
The four-page letter was written in 1919, when the then Prince of Wales was aboard HMS Renown on route for a Royal tour of Canada. The wordy letter which is dated 18th – 21st August 1919, includes passionate sentiments to his then married lover, details of his disenchantment with royal life and also the trials and tribulations of his trip.
Writing in pencil, the Prince sends news of speeches he has made (‘what I think of all this official work & these cornie [sic] pompous stunts….tho I really do feel that I’ve at last turned the corner as regards public speaking….’). In terms of other political content, the prince makes further reference to the Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden with whom he had dined (‘…he’s such a stick & deadly dull except re politics & I can’t tackle him on that subject’).
The letter goes on to inform her that he will be spending a day at Prince Edward Island (‘I don’t think it will be very strenuous as its such a pip squeak province’), and to express how much he misses her, (‘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….’). He goes on to state that he is looking forward to going ‘West’ and hoping to receive another letter from her (‘there’s only one type of letter for me & that’s my precious beloved little baby’s, only one writing that I search madly for when the letters are being sorted & my poor little heart is beating so fast….’).
The letter goes on to ask Mrs Dudley Ward to send him some books of poetry with her favourite verses or lines marked, laments the fact that fog has prevented him from playing golf, comments that he is feeling home sick, and concludes in romantic terms, ‘You can never know what I feel like…..or how I dote over YOU & worship you darling, darling of my heart!! Au revoir and may God have you in his safe keeping beloved one till your very very own devoted & adoring little boy Your David returns to YOU!! Bless you, bless you for ever & ever & I send millions & millions of paper baisers tho what rotten substitutes for our proper ones which must be easily the most divine & marvellous ever known!!’
At the time of writing, the prince was 25 years old and his affair with Mrs Dudley Ward would go on until 1934, only ending when he became involved with Wallis Simpson. At the time, Freda Dudley Ward was married to Liberal MP William Dudley Ward and Edward VIII was known to have written hundreds of letters to her, many of which were destroyed or lost.
There is also a postscript which reads: ‘Mrs Thpider sends her love & baiser to Mr. Thpider, she is looking after me vewy well tho she’s vewy bored & fed up & sad at her long separation from her little husband. I hope he’s as well as she is sweetheart!!’. This is a reference to how before leaving England for his tour of North America, the prince and his lover exchanged signet rings with spider motifs, which they called ‘Mr and Mrs Thpider.’
Charles Ashton, Director, Cheffins comments:
“This letter is a window into the extraordinary passion of the modern-minded future king Edward VIII, as a young man of 25 heading to Canada. 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. Collectors of autographs and letters tend to seek out love letters in particular as they usually show more personality than other types of correspondence and following the major Sotheby’s sale in 2003 of almost 300 of these letters, the majority are now in private hands. Very few have surfaced onto the market since 2003 and we expect that this one will be of interest to collectors from the UK and further afield.”
The letter is accompanied by the original envelope bearing a black wax seal to the verso and has been consigned from a private collector.
It has an estimate of £400 - £600.
Auction: The Library Sale – 21st October 2021 from 11am
Location: Cheffins, Clifton House, 1-2 Clifton Road, Cambridge, UK, CB1 7EA