Edward VIII's letters to his 'vewy own darling' sold for £35,000

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A cache of more than 260 letters written by Edward VIII to his first love, Freda Dudley-Ward, were sold at auction yesterday for almost double the estimated price.

The collection, offering a fascinating insight into the mind of the future King, fetched £34,500 at Bonhams & Brooks in London. It was bought by Christine Davies, co-producer of a documentary programme, Edward on Edward, made in 1996 for Prince Edward's film company. The estimated sale price was £20,000.

The young Prince of Wales was vulnerable and passionate, but also ­ by his own admission ­ immature and spoilt. He hated being obliged to do duties of state during and after the First World War if they took him away from his lover, whom he called Fredie and often addressed in a babyish style in his letters, calling her his "vewy vewy own precious darling".

In addition to the correspondence to Ms Dudley-Ward, daughter of a Nottingham lace maker, written between 1918 and 1921, four of her photographs of Edward as a child and young man were included in the sale.

The couple met in February 1918. They took shelter under the same doorway in Mayfair, after attending a dance when air raid warnings were sounded. Ironically, the house belonged to the sister of Ernest Simpson, whose wife, Wallis, would be the object of the Prince's all-consuming passion in the 1930s.

Long before he abdicated the throne to be with Mrs Simpson in 1936, the future Edward VIII's dislike of the responsibilities of his position was already clear.

In a typically frank manner, he bemoaned his fate to Ms Dudley-Ward in 1920. "What a hopeless state the world is in just now and each day I long more and more to chuck in this job & be out of it & free for you sweetie: the more I think of it all the more certain I am that really ... the day for Kings & Princes is past, monarchies are out-of-date."

In another letter, dated 18 April 1920, Edward told Ms Dudley-Ward: "Mon amour, I swear I'll never marry any other woman but YOU!!!"

Their 15-year relationship ended in 1934, when Mrs Simpson arrived at York House. Ms Dudley-Ward wasdiscarded and was not even mentioned in Edward's autobiography.

A letter from Sir Winston Churchill, advising the Prince on what to say in a speech to American troops made in 1919, was sold for £8,280.