Letter: End of a love story

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The Independent Online
THE sale in New York of the household and personal effects of the late Duke and Duchess of Windsor is a historic and poignantly sad occasion - it is the final chapter to the truest love story of this century.

The Duke and Duchess were a couple who lived and loved and faced their destiny, and I came to know them in France after they had lived many years in exile. In February 1972 the American Hospital of Paris where I was nursing at the time, asked me to take special charge of the Duke of Windsor after his exploratory operation.

The Duchess was severely criticised, but in my view it was a relationship which started out as an innocent interest on her part, then through genuine love developed with landslide speed into a major monarchy crisis.

I know the world, and history, have judged the Duke of Windsor and found him wanting as a public figure; but I knew him as a private man. I came to see that his courage in illness was as staunch as his courage in love. He was generous and never complained of the pain of illness or the pain of exile.

The depth of the Duchess's love was enduring. When I arrived at their home in the Bois de Boulogne to nurse him there after his release from hospital the Duchess gave me a gift, a brooch of the smallest carnation in the world designed by the Duke and made by Cartier "to thank me for bringing the Duke safely home".

Now with no earthly collection of possessions left we must pray they are both safely home.

OONAGH SHANLEY-TOFFOLO

London SW5

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