Letters to Duchess of Windsor : Duke Called Relatives ‘Seedy Bunch of Old Hags’


A British newspaper today published letters by the late Duke and Duchess of Windsor that reveal the bitterness of their 30-year feud with the Royal Family after he abdicated the throne.

In the letters, published by the Daily Mail, the duke refers to some of his relations as “a seedy, worn out bunch of old hags” and says of his dying mother: “I’m afraid her veins have always been as icy cold as they are in death.”

The duke scandalized Britain in 1936 when, as King Edward VIII, he was forced to abdicate to marry “the woman I love,” American divorcee Wallis Simpson.


Edward’s younger brother, the Duke of York, ascended to the throne as King George VI.

Family Shunned Duchess

After the abdication, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor lived abroad and the Royal Family refused to receive the duchess.

The letters are also published in a book by royal historian Michael Bloch, “The Secret File of the Duke of Windsor,” due out next month.

Bloch says in the book that the Duchess of Windsor instructed her lawyer in 1975 to allow the letters and other documents from the duke’s personal archives to form the basis of a book about the unknown story of the couple’s exile.

The letters were then entrusted to Bloch.

They show the duke’s rancor at the Royal Family’s apparent efforts to restrict his income and their refusal to grant his wife permission to use “Her Royal Highness” before her name.

When the duke returned from New York to London in 1952 to attend the funeral of King George VI, he was told his personal allowance from Buckingham Palace would stop because it had been a personal gift of the dead king.


In a letter to the Duchess of Windsor, the duke wrote:

“George Allen (his solicitor) has some sensible and convincing arguments over the 10,000 pounds if only they’ll play at Clarence House (then the home of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip). But I’m afraid they’ve got the fine excuse of the national economy if they want to use it. . . . It’s hell to be even this much dependent on these ice-veined bitches, important for WE as it is.”

WE was an acronym the Duke and Duchess of Windsor used for their first names, Wallis and Edward.

Dying Mother Visited

In March, 1953, the Duke of Windsor again visited London when his mother, Queen Mary, was dying.

Writing of doctors’ reports that his mother’s condition had improved, the duke said: “Ice in place of blood in the veins must be a fine preservative.”

After the duke learned his mother had left him only three small boxes and a pair of candlesticks, he wrote to the duchess:

“What a smug stinking lot my relations are and you’ve never seen such a seedy worn out bunch of old hags most of them have become.”

Throughout their letters the duke and duchess used code names including Cookie for the Queen Mother, Shirley Temple for Queen Elizabeth II, and Cry Baby for Winston Churchill.