The future Duchess of Windsor had left England at the beginning of December 1936 just as the British press began to write about the crisis. She had called her friends Herman and Katherine Rogers, who lived in Cannes and asked to stay with them. However, in early March, it was time to move on and begin to plan for the future with the now abdicated King. It was Herman Rogers who introduced her to Charles Bedaux who owned an old château named Candé, near Tours.
It was surrounded by a large wooded park, which would guarantee their privacy. Wallis discussed the idea with the Duke, and Herman asked Charles if he had any skeletons in his closet as the press would certainly find them and the couple could not afford any embarrassment. Even King George VI was consulted, and with royal approval, Charles officially lent them the Château de Candé.
On 1 March 1937, Wallis wrote to Charles’ wife Fern, “It is frightfully difficult for me to convey even one-tenth of what I feel about your and Mr Bedaux’s kindness and generosity to the Duke of Windsor and myself. When we meet perhaps, I can make you realise a little of it. I am so looking forward to our arrival at Candé the ninth, and I hope you will not have a shock at the size of the caravan. I am afraid I must warn you that if our move is detected before my arrival, you may have an awful struggle with the press.”1
To her aunt Bessie she wrote, “You can imagine our excitement here with the big move scheduled for Monday, all the secret arrangements etc re the van for the luggage etc. We hope to be safe from the press until Tuesday at least.”2
With the date of her divorce being final approaching, the press was beginning to return the gates of the Rogers’ villa. On 9 March 1937, Wallis, the Rogers, and 27 pieces of luggage left Cannes for Tours. She arrived during a terrible storm, but her first impression of the château was favourable. Wallis was to take Fern’s bedroom while Herman Rogers slept in an adjoining with a gun under his pillow. He still feared for her safety.
For the next two months, Wallis was at Candé waiting to be joined by the Duke. As before, the press had begun to gather around the château. She later wrote, “I never could understand why newspapers went to the expense of keeping presumably competent and useful men at such an empty task.”3
At the beginning of May, Wallis and the Duke were reunited at Candé and the following month; it would be the scene of their wedding. The château is now open to the public.