In 1936, Edward VIII - the Queen’s uncle - scandalised the nation when he chose love over duty, abdicating from the throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. Now, the Primrose Hill house where Mrs Simpson first caught the roving royal eye is on the market for £18 million.
Behind the elegant Arts & Crafts exterior of a house on Elsworthy Street lurks a scandalous secret. It may look respectable from the outside, but this Primrose Hill home is believed to have been the clandestine love nest of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, the woman he eventually gave up the crown for. And that’s not all – the rakish royal also had an affair with the lady of the house before ditching her in favour of Wallis’s womanly wiles.
Back in the 1930s, the house belonged to Viscount Furness, one of the richest men in Britain. His wife, Thelma, was an American socialite who became rather more than just good friends with the then Prince Edward following a joint safari expedition to East Africa in 1930.
It was Thelma who first introduced Edward to Mrs Simpson, at the time still married to her shipping executive husband, Ernest. Wallis and Ernest were supposed to be chaperoning Thelma while her husband was away. Apparently they didn’t do a very good job because Edward was there too, presumably enjoying all the hospitality his hostess had to offer.
Whether Thelma spotted the spark between her lover and her friend is unclear, but circumstances would suggest love was blind because, in 1934, she invited Wallis to lunch at the Ritz and asked her to ‘look after’ Edward while she went on holiday to New York. Wallis must have looked after her royal charge rather too well – by the time Thelma returned three months later, she had been well and truly ousted from Edward’s affections.
Seok Swycher, the current owner of the Elsworthy Road house, told the Daily Mail: ‘When we bought the house more than 30 years ago, it was dilapidated and was three separate flats.
‘We restored it into a proper family home. But I remember, when the building work was going on, that a couple walked by and told me Wallis and Ernest Simpson once lived here.
‘We knew the Furnesses lived here, and so we can only assume that at some point the Furnesses let the Simpsons use one of the apartments.
‘Maybe the Simpsons were looking for a base in London, or perhaps they were between addresses, but the lady had a definite memory that they actually lived here at Elsworthy Road.
‘She even remembered seeing the Prince turning up at the house in his Bentley.’
The house is now up for sale. So if you’ve got £18 million burning a hole in your pocket, you could soon find yourself sleeping in the former bedroom of not one, but two royal mistresses!
Loved this? Have a snoop around the Prince of Wales’s house. And if you can’t afford the £18 million price tag on Elsworthy Road, here are 10 cheaper – and easier – ways to give your home the royal touch. For more news and trends follow us on Facebook and Twitter.