Saturday, January 16, 2021

Smiling Churchill and Scowling Edward

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Rare photograph of Winston Churchill dining with Edward VIII to be sold as part of a sale on the eve of the 80th anniversary of him becoming Prime Minister

Offered as part of the ‘Churchill in Charge – 80th Anniversary’ sale that concludes tomorrow, Wednesday 20th May, Sotheby’s New York is auctioning online a photograph signed by both Winston Churchill and Edward VIII.

 

Part of a collection built up over 37 years by Chartwell Booksellers, the independently owned Manhattan bookstore “home to the world’s finest selection of rare Churchilliana,” the framed 10-by-8-inch image was taken on the 28th February 1925 at a farewell dinner for Frank Kellogg, the retiring American Ambassador to Great Britain at the Hotel Victoria, London.

 

Our Smiling Prince and Our Scowling PM – Churchill and Edward VIII – Rare photograph of Winston Churchill dining with Edward VIII to be sold as part of a sale on the eve of the 80th anniversary of him becoming Prime Minister – The image will be sold by RM Sotheby’s New York on the 20th May 2020 as part of their ‘Churchill in Charge – 80th Anniversary’ sale. A starting bid of £12,245 ($15,000, €13,695 or درهم55,088) has been set for the photograph along with a high estimate of £19,588 ($24,000, €21,907 or درهم88,140).
In a reversal of roles, Edward, Prince of Wales is the one whom appears to be scowling in the picture whilst Winston Churchill, for once, is the one smiling.
Our Smiling Prince and Our Scowling PM – Churchill and Edward VIII – Rare photograph of Winston Churchill dining with Edward VIII to be sold as part of a sale on the eve of the 80th anniversary of him becoming Prime Minister – The image will be sold by RM Sotheby’s New York on the 20th May 2020 as part of their ‘Churchill in Charge – 80th Anniversary’ sale. A starting bid of £12,245 ($15,000, €13,695 or درهم55,088) has been set for the photograph along with a high estimate of £19,588 ($24,000, €21,907 or درهم88,140).
‘The Steeple Times’ has previously featured items of Churchilliana available at auction. In January 2014, an unsmoked cigar and a cigar stub collected by Sir Winston Churchill’s care nurse whilst he was in the Middlesex Hospital in London in July 1962 sold for £812 ($993, €906 or درهم3,648).

Also in the image alongside ‘Our Smiling Prince’ (as Edward, Prince of Wales – as he then was – was nicknamed) and ‘Our Scowling PM’ (as the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Churchill became known) are Ambassador Charles Kellogg (US ambassador from 1924 to 1925) and William Grenfell, Baron Desborough.

 

Of the lot and the evening the photograph was taken, Sotheby’s remark:

 

The dinner was convened by The Pilgrims of Great Britain society, whose motto appears on a framed sign behind the table: “Hic et Ubique” (“Here and Everywhere”). The Pilgrims society was founded in 1902 “to promote good-will, good-fellowship, and everlasting peace between the United States and Great Britain.”

 

Winston Churchill was serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer to Conservative Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin at the time of this photograph. Baron Desborough was an athlete of renown in Great Britain, as well as a politician, and the president of the Pilgrims society. His wife, known as “Ettie,” was one of England’s great society hostesses, a leading figure in the social group “The Souls,” entertaining luminaries at their country house, Taplow Court, such as H.G. Wells, Vita Sackville-West, Oscar Wilde, and, of course, the Prince of Wales and Winston Churchill. The couple lost two sons in the trenches during World War I, including Julian Grenfell, a noted war poet.

 

The Prince of Wales would ascend to the throne upon the death of his father, King George V, in January 1936. He and Winston Churchill were longtime friends. Churchill almost destroyed his own political career attempting to ward off abdication and save Edward’s crown. In the end, he failed. Edward VIII renounced the throne on December 9, 1936 to marry his commoner love, Wallis Warfield Simpson.

 

A starting bid of £12,245 ($15,000, €13,695 or درهم55,088) has been set for the photograph along with a high estimate of £19,588 ($24,000, €21,907 or درهم88,140). As of this morning, there have been no bids for the lot.

 

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Matthew Steeples
A graduate of the London School of Economics, Matthew Steeples is a writer and marketing consultant. He conceived The Steeple Times as a media arena to fill the void between the Mail Online, The Huffington Post and such organs as the New York Social Diary in 2012.
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