Was the Wallis Simpson jewelry theft case a set-up?

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One evening in October 1946, while staying with friends in the United Kingdom, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were victims of a resounding jewelry theft. A misdeed with such strange circumstances that the historian Alexander Larman returns to the hypothesis of an insurance scam.

“Heaven, my jewels!” In the heart of the peaceful Berkshire countryside, on the night of October 15 to 16, 1946, the Duchess of Windsor oscillated between fits of nerves and anger. A few hours earlier her maid, Joan Martin, sounded the alarm upon discovering that the precious cassette containing the duchess’s jewels had disappeared from its hiding place. The police were immediately notified, and an investigation was launched by Scotland Yard. However, in this incredible affair no suspect will ever be arrested. A mystery forever unsolved?

The historian of the British monarchy Alexander Larman returns in the Daily Mail to this curious news item described in detail in his latest work, Power and Glory, devoted to the years 1936 to 1952. The author takes care to place the facts in their proper context. context: that evening Wallis and her husband, the former and very short-lived King Edward VIII, broke their exile for their first return to British soil since the end of the war. The couple, still as sulphurous but increasingly broke, stay at Ednam Lodge, in the small village of Sunningdale, with their friends the Earl and Countess of Dudley. On October 15, while the four were going to dinner at Claridge’s Hotel in London, the case containing the Duchess’s jewelry vanished.

As soon as they arrived on the scene, the police noted astonishing circumstances: firstly, the jewels were not in the lodge’s safe but were simply stored in a box, slipped under the duchess’s bed. Then the criminal(s) seem to have entered the property around 6 p.m., right at the time when the Windsor security officer was taking a break for dinner. You still had to know. The thugs are said to have climbed through the window of the Dudley’s daughter’s bedroom to head straight towards Wallis’ room. We still had to know which one it was. And despite the numerous trinkets, paintings, and other rich ornaments filling the house, the thieves do not touch anything in their path: only Wallis’ jewelry will be missing.

“Suspicions have been raised”

On their return to Ednam Lodge, the Duke and Duchess were seized with “almost exaggerated” panic, Larman points out. Wallis insisted to the Countess that all the staff had been grilled – notably a young, recently employed cook – while the Duchess provided the police with a detailed list of the stolen jewels. The next day, the press mentioned a loot approaching £250,000 (or almost a million and a half euros today). The Duke of Windsor was moved, ensuring that despite their immense sentimental value, the stolen jewels were not worth more than 20,000 pounds sterling. The former king also wrote to his brother, George VI, to let him know that he had realized “in the most bitter and costly way that Britain is no longer the safe and law-abiding country that it was…”

The day after the theft, several of the stolen items reappeared scattered around the Sunningdale golf course: among them we discovered a Fabergé box, pearls that belonged to Queen Alexandra and eighteen earrings – but no pair, which has the gift of enraging Wallis. “Suspicions were raised, both at the time and after Wallis’s death in 1986, that this robbery at the home of Lord and Lady Dudley was either an internal set-up, with the complicity of the cash-strapped Windsors. money, or that the jewelry was never stolen,” writes Alexander Larman.

Indeed, when in 1987, a year after the death of the Duchess, Sotheby’s organized a major auction of its jewelry collection in Geneva, around thirty pieces declared stolen in 1946 from the Ednam Lodge appeared in the catalog… For Leslie Field, historian and specialist in the royal collection of jewelry from the House of Windsor, there is no longer room for doubt. “I believe that the Duchess of Windsor defrauded the insurers by exaggerating the number and identification of the jewels stolen, and that in reality some never left the safe where they were locked in Paris.”

This article is originally published on pointdevue.fr

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