Never-Seen Intimate Photos Shed New Light on the Ultimate Modern Royal Scandal (and the Reason Elizabeth Is Queen)

The photographs of a shirtless King Edward VIII and his lover Wallis Simpson in 1936 put a spotlight on the affair that ended his reign

Photo: Kerry Taylor Auctions

A previously unseen collection of private photos is shedding new light on the affair of King Edward VIII and American Wallis Simpson – and the monarchy-shaking scandal that led to the King’s abdication 80 years ago.

The vacation snaps have emerged in an auction of royal gifts, mementoes and private photographs that were once owned by close friends of the then-King and his controversial lover. The collectibles were unearthed by a granddaughter of Herman Rogers, who with his wife Katherine joined Edward VIII and Simpson on a cruise around the Adriatic Sea in 1936.

The vacation brought their affair into the open and ultimately led to Edward’s historic decision to give up the throne in December 1936. Edward’s younger brother Albert succeeded him as King George VI – setting in motion the ascension of current (and longest-reigning) monarch Queen Elizabeth II, Albert’s elder daughter.

Around 200 pictures from what is called the Nahlin Cruise album are being auctioned in London for a guide price of between $2,170-$3,620 by fashion and antiquities sellers Kerry Taylor Auctions.

The photos depict a recently coronated Edward sunbathing bare-chested (which raised eyebrows in the non-British media at the time), while Simpson is seen in a one-piece swimsuit.

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Among the sale items is a memento of the Rogers stay at Balmoral Castle, which followed directly after the cruise. The King and other guests signed Balmoral notepaper still bearing the black mourning edging for his father King George V.

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Later, when the couple married in June 1937, Herman Rogers played the role of escorting Wallis – and the now-former King gave him a unique token of his appreciation. The Cartier sapphire-encrusted cigarette case engraved in facsimile of the Duke s hand with the wedding date and the date Wallis stayed with them during the abdication crisis is being sold for an estimated $29,000-$43,500. His wife Katherine was given a matching Cartier compact, which is estimated to reach half the cigarette case price.

Also among the lots: an alligator handbag (priced at $750-$1,450) owned by Wallis.

The Passion for Fashion sale is set for June 14.

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