|Villa Windsor in autumn. Image via Pinterest.|
The Villa Windsor was the Paris home of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor from 1953 until their deaths in 1972 and 1986, respectively. The mansion is located on Bois de Boulogne close to Neuilly-sur-Seine. Following his abdication, King Edward VIII, now Duke of Windsor, went to France where he married the two-time American divorcee Wallis Simpson in 1937. The former king was sent by the British government to the Bahamas during World War II where he served as Governor from 1942 until 1945. The couple eventually settled in the mansion in 1953, spending the best days of their lives here, aside from visiting European capitals or traveling around the world. Here are 7 amazing facts about Villa Windsor.
The chateau was once owned by the Renault family.
However, the French government sequestered the property after World War II.
It was home to General de Gaulle.
General Charles de Gaulle occupied the house in the late 1940's.
The French government offered the mansion to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
The French Government was elated with the idea that an English king, although uncrowned, would be living on the French soil. So, they offered the Duke and Duchess of Windsor a 50-year lease on the property for a very minimal rent.
It underwent extensive restoration.
The house was redecorated by Parisian design firm Maison Jansen under the watchful eyes of the Duchess of Windsor. The couple moved in in 1953.
The mansion is simply glorious!
The mansion has a sweeping grand entrance. A column stands on both sides of the main door.
The entrance hall is bedecked with “frescoes, tapestries and a Japanese screen,” which were said to be given by Emperor Hirohito to the couple.
The hall leads to the sitting room, dining room and library. The couple’s famous parties were usually held here.
In the library is the striking portrait of the Duchess by Gerald Brockhust hanging above the red marble fireplace. Also in the room, a painting of an equestrian Duke of Windsor hangs, painted by Sir Alfred Munnings.
The large formal salon, inspired by Amalienborg Palace’s, comes in muted color scheme, accented by gold and blue. Antique furniture are around while an Aubusson carpet was commissioned just to match the ostrich feather design picked out in silver thread.
A marble staircase leads to the private suites. A sitting room stands in between the couple’s rooms, which were “more comfortable than elegant.” The third floor were allocated for servants and storage. The Duchess of Windsor's bedroom is made striking by the red-toned Persian rug which contrasted the blue upholstery and turquoise walls, which she preferred to call "Wallis Blue." The Duchess slept on an elegant Empire bed. Notice the pug cushions on the sofa.
Every corner in the the Duke of Windsor's bedroom, meanwhile, is noticeably filled with the Duchess' photographs. Above his bed is a velvet drapery stamped with fleur de lys and the Royal coat of arms. His bed cover, meanwhile, is embossed with the royal insignia, ER.
It was purchased by Mohammad Al-Fayed.
Diana, Princess of Wales, visited the mansion before she died.
Diana, Princess of Wales, and Al-Fayed's son Dodi, spent half an hour in the villa on the day they died in 1997.