Details & Cataloguing

Exceptional Jewels and Precious Objects Formerly in the Collection of The Duchess of Windsor



The rectangular case decorated to the front with a two tone polished map of Europe, inscribed with the names of various locations, each represented by a cabochon gem, a brilliant- or single-cut diamond, and connected by red and blue enamel lines, the interior inscribed and dated: David from Wallis Christmas 1935, measurements approximately: length 108mm, width 76mm, depth 8mm, signed Cartier, London, British hallmarks for London, 1935, maker's marks, one small stone deficient.

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Cf: Sotheby's, The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, Geneva, Thursday 2nd April 1987, Lot 32.

Cf: A King's Story, The Memoirs of H.R.H. The Duke of Windsor, K.G, London, 1953, page 223 I Find The Fort, and 237 -242, the chapter entitled The Heart Has Its Reasons.

Cf: Cecil Beaton, The Wandering Years, London, 1961

Catalogue Note

The enamelled routes on this piece refer to holidays enjoyed by Prince Edward and his guests, including Mrs Simpson, during 1934,1935 and 1936.  Due to the date of the inscription on the cigarette case, it must be assumed that the route outlining the Balkan journey of 1936 was added some time after the box's original presentation.

In her memoirs, the Duchess explained that she and her Aunt Bessie Merryman, in the absence of Ernest Simpson who was going to America, had been asked by the Prince of Wales to join him and a few friends on a trip abroad, which commenced with nearly a month's stay at Meremont, a villa in Biarritz.  After this, from 1st to 17th September, the Prince and his party spent much time on Lord Moyne's yacht, Rosaura.  According to the engraving on the cases, they moved from Biarritz on to Coruna (sic) and from there to Oporto, Arena Gordas, Palma and Formentor.  They then returned to the mainland at Cannes, staying there from 11th to 16th of September, before going on to Genoa, Milan, Como, Vallorbe and finally via Paris back to Fort Belvedere near Sunningdale.

Early in the New Year, on 14th January 1935, Mrs Simpson told Mrs Merryman that, 'the Prince is thinking of going to Kitzbuhl in February and has invited Foxy Gwynne, Lord Dudley, Captain and Mrs Bruce Ogilvy... To be gone 2 weeks – it if comes off...'  When Wallis Simpson spoke of this to her husband, telling him that the Prince wanted them both along, he greeted the news, saying he had no interest in skiing and anyway was due to be in New York at that time.  Mrs Simpson paid little attention to Mr Simpson's annoyance; she, the Prince and party left London on 4th February, travelling via Calais to Kitzbuhl in the Austrian Tyrol where they stayed at the Grand Hotel from 5th to 17th February.  A letter from there to Mrs Merryman outlined the itinerary for the remainder of the holiday: '... 10 days here, 3 days Vienna, 3 days Budapest, Paris, home.'  Again, the engraving on the case confirms this route.  When Mrs Simpson arrived back in London, her Aunt heard that, 'The trip was a great success and Budapest was the best part, such a gay amusing place.  2 days in Paris where I bought a couple of hats... I was very interested in the clippings.  What the US papers don't put on this poor Prince... I wish you had sent me clippings about the diamond and my glass coat.  I have a small diamond that clips into my hair which HRH gave me and the coat is cellophane.'

Regarding the summer holiday of that year of 1935, Mrs Merryman received advance warning in a letter of 16th July.  'The Prince has taken [Lord Cholmondeley's] villa at Cannes from August – has his own rocks and will rent a boat.'  Ernest Simpson again did not accompany his wife.  As related in the Duchess's memoirs, the Prince's party 'took a cruise [from Cannes] on the Duke of Westminster's yacht, Cutty Sark, to Corsica; later Daisy Fellowes lent us her yacht, the Sister Anne, for a cruise along the coast as far as the island of Porquerolles.'

'Not unexpectedly,' continued the Duchess regarding their stay at Cannes, 'David decided one day that we ought to revisit the delights of Vienna and Budapest, taken this time in reverse order.'  During this trip, from 20th until 24th September 1935, they stayed at St. Wolfgang, before returning to England in early October.

The final holiday recorded on the cases is that of the summer of 1936, about which the Duke of Windsor subsequently wrote: 'It had long been my habit as Prince of Wales to spend a part of the summer holidays abroad... and now that I was King, I saw no reason for abandoning this agreeable and enriching practice...'  Taking up the story, the Duchess remembered that, having chartered Lady Yule's yacht, the Nahlin, the King, 'decided to explore the new waters – the Dalmatian Coast, Greece and the Aegean Isles, and the Bosphorus.  His hope was to recapture the carefree spirit of our last two summers...'  But the cruise was not an unqualified success; both host and guests were to recollect it with mixed feelings.  For one thing, the King and Mrs Simpson's relationship had now become the cause of intense speculation and they were mobbed everywhere by crowds of sightseers as well as representatives of the American and Continental press.

In Istanbul, Edward VIII met the Turkish dictator Ataturk. At the end of the Nahlin cruise, the remainder of the party left heading northwards overland via Sofia and Belgrade towards Budapest and Vienna.  'A pleasant five days in that most charming of capitals – Vienna,' the Duke recalled later, 'wound up my holiday...  I continued westward across Europe with my party on the Orient Express.  My own aeroplane met me a Zurich; and with an equerry I flew home, to resume my duties and to deal with a personal problem which it had become increasingly clear could not be held much longer in abeyance.'  Mrs Simpson, meanwhile, together with the remaining Nahlin guests, spent a few days in Paris before returning to England. [Letters, pp. 132-136, 149, 151, 152, 157, 212-215, 322 ; The Heart Has Its Reasons, pp. 195,217,228-223 ; A King's Story, pp. 305 – 310, 423/4 ; Cecil Beaton, The Wandering Years, London, 1961, p. 308] 

Fort Belvedere is from where the Prince of Wales would began the 1934 and 1935 trips marked on this case; the red enamel indicating the travel by land and the blue by sea.  'The Fort laid hold of me in many ways.  Soon I came to love it as I loved no other material thing - perhaps because it was so much my own creation.  More and more it became for me a peaceful, almost enchanted anchorage, where I found refuge from the cares and turmoil of my life.' A King's Story, page 223.

August - September 1934
The Fort: Ruby
Biarritz: Amethyst
Coruna: Peridot

Oporto: Citrine
Arenas Gordas: Citrine
Palma: Sapphire
Formentor: Coral
Cannes: Sapphire
Genoa: Chrysoberyl
Milan: Jade
Como: Emerald
Vallorbe: Diamond
Geneva: Citrine
Paris: Emerald

February 1935
Starting from London
Kitzbuhel: Diamond
Vienna: Ruby
Budapest: Sapphire
returning via Paris to London

August - September 1935
Starting from London 
Cannes: Sapphire
Calvi: Aquamarine
Vienna: Ruby
Munich: Citrine
St. Wolfgang: Lapis Lazuli
Salzburg: Jade
Budapest: Sapphire
via Paris and home to London

August - September 1936
from London
Zagreb: Ruby
Sibenik: Amethyst
Rab: Emerald
Korcula: Diamond
Dubrovnick: Emerald
Kotor: (stone deficient)
Corfu: Turquoise
Cephalonia: Citrine
Athens: Emerald
Skiathos: Ruby
Gallipoli: Citrine
Istanbul: Sapphire
Sofia: Diamond
Belgrade: Coral
through Vienna back to London.

Exceptional Jewels and Precious Objects Formerly in the Collection of The Duchess of Windsor