March 25, 2011 / 9:51 AM / 6 years ago

How Edward VIII wooed a mistress before Mrs Simpson

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A letter penned by the future King Edward VIII to his mistress depicts him as a starry-eyed, incurable romantic, years before his sensational decision to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson cost him the British throne.

The hand-written letter sent to married socialite Freda Dudley Ward shows him to be head over heels in love 17 years before his devotion to Simpson plunged the monarchy into crisis.

His decision to abdicate catapulted his stammering brother "Bertie," the future King George VI, on to the throne as portrayed in the Oscar-winning film "The King's Speech."

In 1919, the 25-year-old unmarried Prince of Wales tells his secret lover "beloved little Fredie Wedie" she was all he ever wanted.

"This is only just a teeny weeny little scrawl to catch the last post sweetheart and to tell you how fearfully madly I'm loving you this afternoon angel and looking forward to 4.30 tomorrow," he wrote.

"Although I only said all this about 12 hours ago I can't help saying it all again this afternoon -- only I mean it even more sweetheart!!"

Mother-of-two Dudley Ward was Edward's first mistress. Their relationship lasted for five years after they met by chance at a party in 1918. She remained a close confidante of Edward's until 1934 when his relationship with Simpson began.

"Just can't get over all your sweetness to your devoted little boy and he is so so happy this afternoon darling and just not caring for anybody or anything altho he's fearfully busy," reads the letter, to be sold at auction in London on April 2.

It continues: " -- then I don't have time to realize how much I miss HER and how consequently sad and depressed I am tho hopelessly happy 'deep down'!!"

He signed the letter "Your very very devoted adoring little David" -- the name his family used for him.

When the king eventually met Simpson, he abruptly severed all ties with Dudley Ward. In a call to Buckingham Palace in 1934, she was told by an operator: "I have orders not to put you through."

Dudley Ward died in 1983 at the age of 88 and never spoke of the affair.

Richard Davie, director of International Autograph Auctions, said the letter gave an insight into Edward's thinking and ultimately his true desires.

"If you think of Edward VIII, then immediately you conjure up one picture really: his abdication. And the reason he abdicated was for the love of another woman. So he was obviously a very romantic sort of person," he told Reuters.

"It shows how head over heels in love he could fall by the sort of gushing language he uses in it," he added.

"There are plenty of (his) autographs around and other letters, but not love letters. The fact that it is a letter to a mistress and lover he had before Wallis makes it quite rare."

Editing by Steve Addison

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