See the Bahamas Mansion of Former King Edward VIII
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's controversial decision to leave their royal duties behind has nothing on the life of Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David Windsor — better known as Edward VIII or Duke Edward, the once-upon-a-time King of England.
Viewers of "The Crown" know about this controversial figure, who abdicated his kingship in 1936 so he could pursue love with American socialite Wallis Simpson. Edward and Simpson moved to the Bahamas, and it wasn't because the two wanted to make their own money and strike out on their own.
This is the Bahamian mansion where Edward and Simpson lived for a while during what may have been the most turbulent time of their lives. And now it's up for sale at $8.5 million.
This Is a Really Big House
The Bahamas have changed a lot since Edward and Simpson would regal guests with tales of how he used to be a king but gave it all up for love.
What hasn't changed is how big their old mansion is. The home was built in 1930, and it's 15,000 square feet with 15 bedrooms, 13 full bathrooms and two half-baths.
Resorts Are Part of the View
Today, from the distance, you'll still get a good view of the ocean, but also an even bigger view of one of the many resorts sucking up air space on the Bahama coastline.
This one is a 1,000-acre resort called the Baha Mar, which opened in 2018.
It's Known as Sigrist House
Originally built by Fredrick Sigrist, a British aviation pioneer who later turned movie producer, this massive estate is located on the crest of Prospect Ridge in Cable Beach, overlooking Goodman's Bay.
Once home to the former king, the property still bears the builder's name as Sigrist House.
Role Play as a Commoner
England was often too cold, too rainy, or too full of prying eyes for Edward to enjoy his morning tea outside, but this secluded private balcony overlooking the bay would have been the perfect spot to relax.
He might even stretch out on the red tile floor and enjoy the fresh air as an almost-commoner, wondering how Hitler was doing.
Sometimes, It's Good to Get Away From England
British royalty and the rich and famous have long loved getting away to the Caribbean. In Edward's day, living on the islands had a sense of seclusion and adventure.
Before the casinos, the high-rise condos, and the resorts, the area around this compound was mostly natural, exotic, and nothing like England.
Even if you had wanted to still be living there.
Recline Away From the Masses by the Pool
Adjacent to the secluded private balcony where we like to believe Edward did his morning reflection, you'll find an inground pool.
Of course, there is a pool. It's a multimillion-dollar estate. Set a few steps below is another seating area complete with a red-tiled hot tub.
The Most Controversial Windsor of Them All?
Edward was a rather interesting fellow. After his father, George V, died on Jan. 20, 1936, Edward was given the crown at the age of 42.
He was the type of man who disliked the rigidity of the royal lifestyle, found it cumbersome and full of unnecessary rules. His grooming to take over the throne began on his 16th birthday, after his father took over the kingship when Edward VII died in 1910.
He was Prince of Wales at the age of 17. In comparison, Prince Charles was 9 years old when he received the title.
Away From the Paparazzi
Because you can't be a disgraced king and the governor of the Bahamas without a little privacy, the estate is set on four acres of lush tropical lands.
From one of many balconies, you can overlook coconut and banana trees, birds of paradise, palms, and even some well-kept canals.
Making His Way to the Front Line
Edward served in World War I and even tried to join the ranks stationed on the front line, but the crown wouldn't allow it. If he fell into German hands, it would create a crisis. He was given a junior officer role in France, away from combat.
But he was determined to see what war was really like, and he jockeyed himself for position to get as close as possible to the men in the trenches.
He Saw War, and Wanted to Avoid It
He finally did get his wish and was moved to the front lines, where he saw the horrific nature of war. He wrote of "columns of men trudging back, their vitality gone, their eyes dead. I remember the bloodstained shreds of khaki and tartan; the ground grey with corpses; mired horses struggling as they drowned in shell-holes.”
The experience changed him. He no longer harbored an unrealistic idea of the valor to be found fighting or dying in war. Instead, he grew cynical about the pointless futility of it all.
Edward Was a Popular Young Man
Edward enjoyed immense popularity while he was in his twenties. His service on the front lines gained him admiration among soldiers, while his good looks and charm made him a well-liked person in England.
He had numerous affairs with married women, which gained him the scorn of his father, who preferred his other son, the future King George VI.
While living at Fort Belvedere, he was introduced to Wallis Simpson, a divorced socialite from America.
There's Stained Glass Windows
Edward tried to hide his relationship with Simpson, but it was no use. The crown, horrified at the idea that a divorced American could potentially become queen, had him tailed.
After he took the throne, it was becoming more clear that Edward planned to marry Simpson. The American press printed stories about the two, although the British press, likely because they were still working with the crown, remained silent.
No One Wanted Queen Simpson
The crown forbade Edward from marrying Simpson, justifying their decision by saying it would go against the teachings of the Church of England and that England's people would reject Simpson as a queen.
He tried to persuade the powers that be to let him marry her while not allowing her to be queen consort, assuring them that none of their children would be able to inherit the throne.
Multiple parliaments under the authority of the crown objected to Edward marrying Simpson, and the king declared that he would abdicate the throne.
The Great Abdication
On the night of Dec. 11, 1936, Edward gave a seven-minute radio speech where he officially announced his abdication.
The throne was given to Edward's younger brother, George VI. The very next day, George announced that Edward would be the Duke of Windsor.
Edward married Simpson on June 3, 1937.
Dining Nook Or Additional Dining Room?
Surprisingly, this breakfast nook is modest by royal standards, but it still beats most dining rooms.
Flanked by picture windows with access to the courtyard, this is the ideal spot to start the day in a tropical paradise.
Would You Do Anything for Love?
Abdicating your duties as king of England to be with the woman you love. It sounds wonderfully romantic, and Edward certainly received sympathy and adoration from the public because of it. The two moved to France.
In October, just a few months after they married, Edward and Simpson visited Nazi Germany and saluted Adolf Hitler.
The Kitchen Is Nice
Some scholars say he only took the trip because he was expected to live quietly, and in exile. A chance to tour Germany with Simpson and allow her to experience a state visit seemed like as good an opportunity as any.
Nazi Germany in 1937 was not yet the horrifying, brutal force it would become. Many Britains, like Winston Churchill, thought it was best left alone.
"We cannot say that we admire your treatment of the Jews or of the Protestants and Catholics of Germany," Churchill remarked that year. "But, after all, these matters, as long as they are confined inside Germany, are not our business."
According to one royal biographer, Andrew Morton, "[T]he real reason was to show Wallis a good time and see exactly what it was like to enjoy a royal tour, and they were treated like royalty," he told the BBC.
Edward Wasn't Very Nice
While Edward and Simpson's visit to Germany may have been innocent at first, it didn't stay that way. Edward contacted Hitler in 1939, trying to negotiate a peace before war broke out between Germany and England. He was a Nazi sympathizer.
"But he was certainly sympathetic ... even after the war he thought Hitler was a good fellow and that he'd done a good job in Germany, and he was also anti-Semitic, before, during and after the war," Morton told the BBC.
Banished to the Bahamas
Edward was outspoken for reaching a peaceful solution, broadcasting a message in the United States calling for peace. The BBC refused to air it.
Edward became a liability for Buckingham Palace. They appointed him governor of the Bahamas and sent him off to live there in the summer of 1940.
A Bathroom Fit for a Former King, Kinda
If you're the one-time head of the Commonwealth and current governor of the nation where you're residing, you're not going to bathe your troubles away in any old bathtub. Only a secluded built-in will do for you.
And while fairly simple by royal standards, the Art Deco feel of the crown molding and rounded walls in this room are pretty luxurious.
It's Unclear If They Owned or Rented This Place
Edward and Simpson were to live in the Government House in Nassau, but the place was in disrepair and needed to be fixed. While the couple were waiting for it to be finished, they lived here.
It's unclear whether they rented the place or purchased it outright.
Brood in Style, Like the King
While the couple never shied away from the limelight, King Edward was a known brooder. And if you're going to brood, do it somewhere dramatic, like in this amazing study.
With wrought-iron windows overlooking the tropical greenery outside to the floor-to-ceiling woodwork to the fireplace, this room is perfect for deeply serious, brooding pictures of self-reflection.
Each of the home's four fireplaces was imported from country homes in Britain.
Write Some Heartwarming Letters
This is likely where Edward wrote letters during his stay here. His letters are rather famous and show that he had no real faith in the monarchy long before he became king.
Fans of "The Crown" will likely remember Edward's somewhat cruel letters he wrote about his family and politicians. They were accurate. His nickname for Queen Elizabeth II was "Shirley Temple," and he referred to Winston Churchill as "Cry Baby."
A Friend in Need Is a Friend Indeed
The Nazis saw Edward as possible ally. Their primary objective was to dispose the monarchy through one means or another and reinstall Edward on the throne.
During the war, the Nazis developed a plan called "Operation Willi," where the Germans would kidnap Edward and persuade him to join the Nazis. First, the Nazis claimed that his brother, King George, had planned to murder him in the Bahamas and tried to persuade him to come over willingly.
That didn't work, so there was a backup plan.
The Nazis Tried to Kidnap Him
The Nazis sent an SS officer named Walter Schellenberg to kidnap both Edward and Simpson as the two departed Portugal for the Bahamas.
Schellenberg sabotaged the car carrying the former king's luggage to delay their departure, but was ultimately unsuccessful.
Edward Hated the Bahamas
Edward disliked his role as governor and described the island as "a third-class British colony" and viewed the non-white population with contempt.
Here he is in Bermuda on Aug. 11, 1940, with Simpson and their pet dog. This photo was taken shortly before the pair left for the Bahamas.
At first glance, this bedroom might seem nice, but unimpressive for a home of this size.
After all, the room is fairly simple. Colonial-style woodwork flank the walls, French doors open to the outside, and the wood floors seem practically every day.
But it's difficult to make every bedroom glamorous when there are 15 of them.
A Place for the Most Dignified of Parties
As a lifelong socialite, Simpson loved hosting parties and making an entrance. And this impressive British Colonial sunroom is the place to make an impression.
Set under a wood and plank ceiling, which was restored in 2014, the expansive marble floors could host any number of Simpson's cronies. But the room's real centerpiece is the arched and highly detailed wrought-iron doors and windows.
Personally, we would rather have been at one of Princess Margaret's parties.
Art Deco Bathrooms
The estate features 14 bathrooms, all decked out in their own unique style.
This simple full bath includes a built-in tub and shower, plenty of natural light, and an Art Deco-style seashell toilet lid.
This is the Caribbean, after all.
There Are Guest Houses, Too
In addition to the opulent main mansion, Sigrist House also features two four-bedroom guesthouses, set off the main estate.
The guest houses add a ton of tropical charm with Spanish-style roofs, brick columns, and open-air porches.
Park Under the Tree
Where do your guests park their cars when they come over? Outside of your messy garage? In the street like a commoner?
If you were one of Simpsons' socialite pals or a fellow Nazi sympathizer, you — or rather your driver — could safely tuck your Mercedes-Benz 770 under a canopy of leaves on a flagstone path.
Edward and Simpson spent most of their years at the Government House, pictured here in the 1940s. Edward served as governor of Bahama only until the war ended and in 1945.
The couple lived out the rest of their life on a French estate, living off an allowance set by the crown and popping up now and then for media interviews and various high-profile white tie events in America.
Simpson May Have Been Part Jewish
Edward died in 1972, leaving behind a tarnished legacy that has been brought back into the public consciousness by "The Crown."
Ironically, Simpson, who died in 1986, may have had a Jewish heritage.
She is buried beside him at the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore.