From the Archive Lesley Blanch & the Duchess of Windsor

esley Blanch and the Duchess of Windsor
Lesley Blanch and the Duchess of Windsor at The Mill outside Paris

Lesley Blanch with the Duchess of Windsor at Le Moulin de la Tuilerie, originally an eighteenth-century mill, outside Paris. The twenty-six acre estate was acquired by the Duke and Duchess in 1952. They lived there until his death in 1972.

The couple’s friends who often visited included Marlene Dietrich, Cecil Beaton, Nancy Mitford, Violet Trefusis, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. As did Lesley Blanch, whose unpublished private letters to Nancy Mitford, the artist Eden Box and other girlfriends, feature anecdotes about the exiled couple and their entourage.  

Marlene Dietrich’s calling card: Lesley’s description of their lunch and subsequent visit to the small Russian cemetery, Sainte Geneviève des Bois, is recounted in her memoirs

Divorce from Romain Gary was finalised in 1963. Lesley made Paris her base – dividing her time between a little top floor flat in Avenue Mozart and Roquebrune on the south coast – when not travelling. She crossed Siberia on the Trans-Siberian Express; roamed through Outer Mongolia, Turkey, Iran, Samarkand, Afghanistan, Egypt, Oman; and returned to the Sahara which had inspired The Wilder Shores of Love. In Paris she saw old friends – Nancy Mitford, Violet Trefusis, Rebecca West and the Windsors: Wallis was a very nice person and I don’t mind what anyone said, he was highly intelligent.” (pages 15-16, On the Wilder Shores of Love: A Bohemian Life)

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