A gushing love letter Edward VIII, then Prince of Wales, sent to his long-standing mistress, Freda Dudley Ward, exceeded expectations when it sold for £7,117 at the Cheffins Library Sale on 21st October.
The four-page letter, which was written in 1919, had a pre-sale estimate of £400 - £600, and was eventually sold to a UK-based bidder on the telephone.
Charles Ashton, Director, Cheffins says:
“This letter saw some significant pre-sale interest, with over twenty separate parties leaving absentee bids, as well as a number of telephone bidders and those online. 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. Edward VIII was known to be a prolific letter writer, with at least 300 of his letters being offered to the market in a significant sale in 2003. The majority of these are now in private hands and very few have surfaced to the market since. The market is truly alive and well for autographs and letters, with a significant number of private collectors who were out in force at today’s Library Sale.”
The letter was written 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.’
The letter was accompanied by the original envelope bearing a black wax seal to the verso and had been consigned from a private collector.
The price reported is the total, inclusive of buyers’ premium (24.5 per cent) and VAT.
Auction: The Library Sale – 21st October 2021 from 11am
Location: Cheffins, Clifton House, 1-2 Clifton Road, Cambridge, UK, CB1 7EA