Notes to Eddie, and other fascinating pieces recovered from the House of Windsor

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The Independent Online
A FRIEND of mine was going to New York, to the sale of the effects of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, so I slipped her a few quid to see if she could pick up a bargain for me. And she did! It was the catalogue of the sale. I have been leafing through it, and I have to say it was money well spent, as some of the lots are most intriguing, not to say exotic.

I hate not to share these things with you, so today instead of the planned leisure feature (an article called "Decorate your lounge the Lord Irvine of Lairg way"), I am simply reprinting some of the more interesting items in the auction, which seem unaccountably not to have been mentioned elsewhere:

Lot 63. First Edition of Mein Kampf in German by Adolf Hitler, inscribed "from the author to his old friend, Eddie". Lot 89. Welsh miner's hat, inscribed "Property of Prince of Wales: industrial visits only". There is a piece of paper tucked inside the helmet, on which is written: "Ideas for conversation with miners: 1) football 2) horse racing 3) So, what's this General Strike all about then?" Lot 182. Second Edition of Mein Kampf in German by Adolf Hitler, inscribed "from the author. The book is going well! Did you get your first copy? Drop me a line..." Lot 245. Welsh/English dictionary, unused. Lot 263. The actual passport as used by the Prince of Wales, giving his occupation as "Traveller, Broadcaster, Statesman, Sportsman, Honorary Miner, you name it ..." Lot 277. Third Edition of Mein Kampf in German by Adolf Hitler, inscribed by the author: "From the next ruler of Germany to the next ruler of England - Vielen Gruss!" Lot 377. Note from the Prince of Wales to unidentified correspondent: "Do you think the British would wear the idea of having a king whose wife was American? And who had been previously married? I would like to know what the country thinks about this. Perhaps you could organise a few focus groups and test public opinion. Thanks!" Lot 657. Fifty-ninth Edition of Mein Kampf, in Czech, by Adolf Hitler. Inscribed by the author: "Did you get the previous fifty-eight copies I sent you? This is the first Czech edition! I am also having it translated into French, Polish, Norwegian and Russian! Don't ask why! PS What do you think of the idea of having Mein Kampf translated into Welsh? The Welsh are your people, of course, so I imagine they will rise to support you when I arrive!" Lot 996. Coronation robes of Edward VIII, marked: "Property of House of Windsor, please do not remove. HAVE DRY CLEANED ONLY." Lot 1,021. Sixty-third edition of Mein Kampf, in Belgian- French translation, inscribed by author, "Sorry couldn't make wedding, but here is wedding present for you and lovely Vallis!" Lot 1,065. The actual half-crown piece used by Edward VIII to decide whether to abdicate or not. Lot 1,066. A note from Edward VIII's equerry to his own wife, as follows: "Tonight I was present when His Maj decided that as he couldn't make up his mind whether to abdicate or not, he should toss for it. I argued that this was not the best way to decide future of Britain. He said he didn't care, he was tired of being told what to do by Baldwin, and by Wallis, and by Hitler ... `By Hitler?' I said. `Did I say Hitler?' he said. `Sorry. Slip of the tongue.' I waited for him to toss. He didn't have a coin. Had to borrow half crown from me. He is hopeless, as usual. I waited for him to toss. Turned out he didn't know how to toss a coin. Always had it done for him. He asked me to do it for him. I said that on such important occasions it was vital he tossed it himself and absurd to expect me to do it. He whimpered a bit and said nobody had ever talked to him like that before. "Except Wallis," he added. "And Baldwin." "And Hitler?" I said. "Yes," he said, blushing slightly. He then attempted to toss the coin. It rolled away and we spent half an hour looking for it. He wanted to borrow another coin and toss again, but I said only the first toss would count, so we would have to find the first coin and see if it was heads or tails ... Lot 1,233 Note from Duke of Windsor to unidentified aide: "I have been offered Governorship of Canada. Do you advise me to accept?" Lot 1,234 Note from unidentified aide to Foreign Office: "Are you crazy, offering Canada to Duke of Windsor? He could no more run Canada than he could run his marriage!" Lot 1,235. Note from FO to aide: "Calm down. He may think he is going to Canada, but in fact we are sending him to Bahamas. He will never know the difference."

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