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Out of the Past

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Seventeen years after abdicating as King of England in order to marry Wallis Simpson, the Duke of Windsor and his Duchess finally became crowned heads. Never mind that the crowns were made of paper and that anyone who blinked missed the length of their reign. The whimsical moment occurred in 1953 at a Manhattan high-society hangout, El Morocco. This photograph was taken at the club’s New Year’s Eve party, when the Windsors, in the spirit of revelry, consented to pose for the club photographer in their ersatz crowns. They asked that the photo not be circulated, and El Morocco’s owner, the late John Perona, agreed that it would be kept under lock and key as long as they were alive. It remained in a vault until last week.