The wonderful library was built by Charles Bedaux for his American wife Fern who was a voracious reader. Every balustrade on the gallery is hand carved with a different pattern. Some of Madame Bedaux’ books are still on the shelves. One is a biography of Queen Mary, Edward’s mother. He was heartbroken when this cold, unforgiving, woman refused to receive Wallis into the family.
Charles and Fern Bedaux, who loved music and frequently held concerts in the library, imported a massive organ. Rising through three floors of the château, it was designed and built by Ernest Skinner, a famous American organ maker. His Company exported only two organs to Europe. This one was commissioned by Bedaux in 1928.
The ceremony between Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Wallis Warfield, took place at 11:42 on June 3, 1937 in the beautiful library at Château Candé.
French weddings are a legally binding civil contract between two people as demanded under French law. Vows are not made, rings are not exchanged.
Edward was baptised Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. His father changed the family name to Windsor during WWI because his people were being killed by Gotha planes. Twenty-One Gothas bombed Folkestone and the nearby army camp. Many were killed, many more were injured. A few weeks later Gothas made a daylight raid on London. One hundred and sixty died.
Simpson was the name of Wallis’ second husband. She changed her name by British Deed Poll to Warfield, her maiden name. If she thought the name Simpson would fade from public memory, she was wrong. She would forever be known as Wallis Simpson.
Dr Mercier, the Mayor of Monts, wearing his tricolour scarf of office, waited for the couple behind a table covered with pink velvet. On either side stood a large vase of pink and white peonies. In front of the table were four armchairs. The table was in a bay window overlooking the lovely Lys valley, so often featured in the novels of Balzac.
At half-past eleven a small door in the wall panelling opened and the Duke of Windsor entered. After greeting the Mayor, he shook hands with the five invited pressmen. He wore a black morning coat, dark yellow waistcoat, double collar, grey checked tie and a white carnation in his buttonhole.
A minute or two later Wallis came through the main doorway of the library escorted by her close friend Herman Rogers. He stood in for her father who died when she was a child, to symbolically give the bride away.
Just before the ceremony, a large bouquet of red, white, and blue flowers tied with a tricolour ribbon, the gift of Monsieur Leon Blum, the French Prime Minister, was presented to Wallis by Monsieur Vernet, Prefect of the Department of Indre-et-Loire.
In attendance was the First Secretary to the British Embassy and the British Consul at Nantes.
The 3 June was Edward’s father’s birthday. He had died eighteen months ago. He would have been 72. Edwards’ mother Queen Mary, who was still in mourning, took this as a personal insult. Small wonder no member of the Royal Family attended.
Some sources say because Edward was told in advance that none of his family would attend he chose that day to protect Wallis’s feelings of public rejection. He told her they did not attend because they were remembering his father on what would have been his birthday.
Wallis wore a distinctive silk crêpe dress designed for her by Mainbocher, an American couturier working in Paris. He created the colour ‘Wallis Blue’, a pale duck egg shade, to match the colour of her eyes. An exact replica is on display in the Château. Her coordinating blue hat had a halo of pale blue tulle. Her matching gloves were made from the same blue silk crêpe as her dress, one of the most copied dresses of all times. In 1950, Wallis presented it to the Metropolitan Museum.
After the signing, Charles Bedaux, the millionaire Franco-American owner of the Château asked Edward and Wallis to burn their names into the wood panelling (the way lovers do on trees) as a permanent reminder of the historic event. They can still be seen on the right hand side of the fireplace. The poker they used, called a pyrograph, was bought by Bedaux especially for the occasion. It’s on display in the Château.
On that very strange wedding day, the most famous organist in France, Marcel Dupré, played Bach, Schumann and Handel for Edward and Wallis. Today, as visitors enter the library they hear the strains of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March played by an invisible organist.
Post by Pamela
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