The Duchess of Windsor and the Kents (Part two)

kent duke duchess
Heritage Image Partnership Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Read part one here.

When it finally came to planning a wedding, Edward assumed that at least some of his family would attend. A date was arranged by Louis Mountbatten, who later wrote, “I succeeded in fixing a date for your wedding that suited Bertie, George, etc.” But then “other people stepped in.”1 In the end, no member of the royal family would be present as it would have looked they were “accepting the future Duchess for all purposes into the Royal Family.”2 The Duke of Kent wrote to Edward, “You have always been a wonderful friend to me, and you know (I hope) my great affection and regard for you, and I am very sincerely sad at not being with you on June 3.”3 The Kents’ wedding present of a Fabergé box was returned and Edward wrote, “The only boxes I happen to be collecting now are those that can be delivered on the ears.”4 When the Kents sent a cable of congratulations, Edward was equally angry. Though he did not doubt the sincerity of their good wishes, he wrote that they were “not at all in tune with the attitude of the rest of the family.” Nor had they shown any inclination towards following a different line than the rest of the family. Edward added, “I tell you, here and now, that I will never forgive or forget the lead Bertie has given you all in your behaviour to me since I left England.”5

The Duke and Duchess of Kent were staying with Prince Paul of Yugoslavia in Brdo in the autumn of 1937, while the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were just a few hours away on their honeymoon in Wasserleonburg. The Duke of Kent wrote to his brother how much he wanted to visit him for a night or two, but when they later spoke on the telephone, it was clear that Marina had been instructed not to come by Queen Mary.6 Edward told his brother that they could both come or neither was welcome. The Duke of Kent went back to the new King, who told him to go even if he had to take Marina with him. Marina remained reluctant to go, and eventually, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary convinced the King to change his mind. Edward wrote angrily to his mother, “I, unfortunately, know from George that you and Elizabeth instigated the somewhat sordid and much-publicized episode of the failure of the Kents to visit us… I am at a loss to know how to write to you, and further to see how any form of correspondence can give pleasure under these circumstances… It is a great sorrow and disappointment to me to have my mother thus cast out her eldest son.”7

On 25 August 1942, Prince George was killed in a flying accident. Edward, who was in the Bahamas at the time, received a letter from Queen Mary which read, “My thoughts go out to you, who are so far away from us all, knowing how devoted you were to him, and how kind you were to him in a difficult moment in his all too short life, kindness I for one shall never forget; he always remembered it, for he was very fond of you. I hope you will often write to me now, as you used to do.” Then she added, “Please give a kind message to your wife, she will help you bear your sorrow.”8 Edward replied warmly to his mother and also indicated that he had written to Marina. However, Marina never received this letter and believed she had been deliberately snubbed.

If there had been any hope that the Duke of Kent’s death would bring the family closer together, it was idle hope. It wasn’t until Edward was in London for surgery in 1965 that Marina visited the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Wallis curtsied as Marina entered, but Marina embraced her instead. Wallis and Marina had not seen each other face to face since the abdication. They spent an hour together, and Wallis later said, “It was one of the most touching moments. It meant so much to David because George had meant so much to him.”9 Marina promised that she would have her children visit their aunt and uncle regularly, and she stayed true to her word.

Princess Marina died on 27 August 1968 at the age of 61, and Edward attended her funeral. According to one account, Wallis deliberately stayed away for the sake of everyone’s grief.10


Our book The Duchess of Windsor – A Collection of Articles is available now in the US and the UK.

  1. King Edward VIII by Philip Ziegler p.353
  2. King Edward VIII by Philip Ziegler p.354
  3. King Edward VIII by Philip Ziegler p.355
  4. King Edward VIII by Philip Ziegler p.362
  5. King Edward VIII by Philip Ziegler p.362
  6. The Duchess of Windsor by Greg King p.284
  7. The Duchess of Windsor by Greg King p.284
  8. King Edward VIII by Philip Ziegler p.484
  9. The Duchess of Windsor by Greg King p.456
  10. The Queen: The New Biography by John Parker p.352

About Moniek Bloks 2659 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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