Edward VIII Wedding Chateau in the Loire Valley: Chateau de Cande where the Duke of Windsor Married Wallis Simpson

Duke and Duchess of Windsor: Marriage of the Century

In France it was hailed as the marriage of the century. Hounded by the world’s press, the former King married the twice-divorced American socialite on 3 June 1937 in the secluded Chateau de Candé just outside the little town of Monts in the Loire Valley. The marriage gave her the title Duchess of Windsor.

Despite being situated in one of the most visited parts of France because of the many grand chateaux in the area, Chateau de Candé is comparatively unknown. It stands on a hilltop surrounded by over 600 acres of parkland with woods and a lake.

Charles and Fern Bedaux

At the time of the royal wedding, the chateau had recently been bought by Charles Bedaux, a millionaire engineer and his American wife, Fern. They knew Mrs Simpson and offered it to her as a discreet venue when the new King George VI, Edward’s brother, told them to find somewhere away from the prying eyes of the press.

Wedding of former King Edward VIII and Mrs Wallis Simpson

The marriage ceremony was held in the large library which has floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a superb 3000-pipe organ, one of only three of its kind in the world still in working order. On the wedding day a leading organist was engaged to play a Handel march as the bride entered.

Then everyone proceeded to the panelled music room for a short service where a small altar had been installed. A lavish wedding buffet with a 5-tier wedding cake was laid out in the dining-room which is medieval in style with walls hung in gold-embossed leather and a richly painted oak beam ceiling.

Photographs of the Duke and Duchess were taken on the decorative stone balcony at the entrance to the chateau and also in the Renaissance-style salon-rouge beyond it. This room is sumptuously decorated with locally-woven red silk on the walls and a huge fireplace with a carved wooden surround.

Chateau de Cande’s History

The oldest part of the chateau dates back to the 16th century but it was extended in the 19th century and then modernised by the Bedaux in the 1930s. They installed luxuries like central heating, en-suite bathrooms and even a telephone exchange. In the grounds they created a golf course where the Duke played during the month he and his bride spent there waiting for her second divorce to be finalised.

She occupied an elegant bedroom suite, now prettily decorated in buttercup yellow and refurnished in 1930s style. Its lavish art-deco bathroom still has the original blue mosaic tiles surrounding a large washbasin and free-standing bath – all very avant-garde at the time. Beautiful 1930s dresses are on display in her dressing room.

“Cande For Ever” Exhibition

Also on show today is a permanent exhibition, “Cande for Ever”, devoted to the chateau’s connections with the royal couple. It includes historic memorabilia, photographs and documents. Preparations for the great day were particularly fraught as by French law the marriage ceremony had to be conducted in public so the local mayor was reluctant to officiate. Eventually he was persuaded on condition that the estate’s wrought-iron entrance gates were left half-open.

The chateau was bequeathed to the local community by Mrs Bedaux who died in 1974. It opened to the public in 2000 and can be visited between April and September from Wednesday to Sunday.

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