Offbeat

By Josh Saunders


A regal fur-lined coat fit for a king has sold for $5,000 – because it was worn by abdicating royal Edward VIII who gave up his title for love.

The lengthy navy-blue jack was sold by Heritage Auctions yesterday (FRI) and was worn by the Duke of Windsor who once said, “A short coat, is only half a coat.”

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The piece that has polished horn buttons and black Russian lamb’s wool collar, was owned by the royal two-years prior to becoming king, after the death of King George V.

He wore the coat that was a chest size 40in and 50in length, during the church funeral procession at Sandringham on January 23, 1935.

Believed to have been chosen as a homage to the late King, he was noted to have described the coat “as low as those overcoats which London cabbies used to wear in my youth.”

A year-on from being crowned, the royal would be famed for giving up the throne to marry American socialite and divorcee Wallis Simpson.

He tried with British Prime Minister of the time, Stanley Baldwin and officials, who gave him three choices: to not marry her, marry against the ministers’ wishes or abdicate.

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As the symbolic Head of the Church of England, Edwards would be seen as going against Christianity’s teachings by marrying a divorcee and could have caused parliament to resign.

On the radio, the day he announced his abdication he said: “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.”

He was succeeded by the George VI, whose eldest daughter Elizabeth II would succeed him and remains the present queen and longest serving monarch.

Nick Dawes, Vice President of special collections at Heritage Auctions, said: “You have to really associate the lot exclusively with Her Royal Highness and he is a very significant character in that.

“Without him, we wouldn’t have Queen Elizabeth II. He did a great deal for the royal family and the 20th Century.

“The coat was a very important piece to him, he was known for his clothing, having only the best and sharpest, but this piece was a special thing to him.

“To me it’s fundamentally a military coat and he was fundamentally a military man.

“It’s military in its cut and I suspect when he wore it, he reverted somewhat to his military origin. You can see that in the coat and in the picture of him wearing it.

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“Certain pieces of clothing when you put them on they make you feel different, I believe he would have had that response with this coat.

“For some reason despite his failings the royal family embraced him and his wife.

“I think the fashionable and societal world embraced them because they were so sharp and above it all, the ultimate snobs, but ultimate high society.

“Bidding came from all over the world, there was a lot of interest. The lot is good enough for a museum, previously it had been in the Met Fashion Institute.”

It drew much attention online with near 1,000-page views on the piece and interest from all over the world, but especially in America.

Nick said: “There is tremendous interest from the various TV shows about the royals and to some extent Downton Abbey.

“They are superbly done, and Americans love good quality in general in television.

“But I think fundamentally it’s something Americans don’t, have they haven’t had it for over 240 years.

“They like the concept and quality of what it is, the standards it represents and the connection to another time and place.

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“The royal family is the oldest family in the world, tracing their lineage directly.”

Heritage Auctions prized the piece that featured sold on June 8th in their Fine and Decorative Arts Auction, with full bidding concluding on Sunday.

The double-breasted military coat sold for $5,000 and stood out to Nick even more for its age and quality.

Nick added: “The fact is there a very, very few gentlemen’s piece left from that date in the 1930s that exist today. There are very few good examples.

“It’s a pretty rare survivor, it represents an age of elegance and standard of elegance that doesn’t exist anymore.

“It’s also the warmest coat you’ve ever worn in your life. It’s fur-lined with beaver or something similar. You don’t find many fur-lined coats like that.”

For future auctions visit: www.ha.com