Signed letters and manuscript memorandum, on the terms of their Wills
DUKE and DUCHESS of WINDSOR
Two typed letters one signed by the Duke of Windsor and one by the Duchess of Windsor, to Rossmore Assets Limited. Both letters state that if either one survives the other the "the residue of my estate, after providing for legacies as contained in my Will, shall pass to you as sole universal legatee." The letters state Rossmore Assets have complete discretion as to the disposal of the estates - but go onto make a number of suggestions including the granting of pecuniary legacies, and hopes that chattels of historical interest should be given to museums, and charitable gifts, 2 pages, 4to, Paris, 27 December 1971. Partially erased pencil note to top of the Duchess's letter stating "to be signed by us both before Saturday Jan 3."
A three page manuscript memorandum in the hand of lawyer Sir Godfrey Morley signed by the Duchess of Windsor, providing "suggestions for the dispersal of my residuary estate", asking that specific groups of items be given to appropriate members of the Royal family ("...Letters and papers of historical interest which I may not have given to the Queen in my lifetime to be given to the Queen on my death...") and the residue be used to establish a charitable foundation "in memory of the Duke of Windsor"; on headed mourning stationery, Paris, 1 July 1972. The Duke of Windsor had just one month previously on 28 May 1972.
A typed letter signed by Louis, Earl Mountbatten of Burma to Sir Godfrey Morley, explaining that the Duchess was "worried about what to arrange in her Will for the late Duke's possessions", and outlining "certain suggestions which she asked me to repeat in writing", largely corresponding to the wishes expressed in the memorandum of 1 July 1972., and confirming the Royal family's "readiness to agree to anything which the Duchess may decide along these lines", 2 pages, 4to, Broadlands, 6 July 1972.
Rossmore Assets was a company created by the Duke of Windsor to allow the Duchess to enjoy full benefits of his estate during her lifetime, and for the residue to then to return to Britain and be distributed for charitable purposes. Sir Godfrey Morley of Allen & Overy had been the Duke's lawyer. Plans for the distribution of the Duchess's own property were bitterly contested in her final years. Sir Godfrey Morley was dismissed in 1973 and, as the Duchess's health declined, power of attorney passed to another lawyer, Suzanne Blum. A deeply controversial figure, she was accused of manipulating the estate for her own advantage. The Duchess's jewellery was ultimately sold in a record-breaking auction Sotheby's to benefit the Marie Curie Institute, whilst the remaining chattels were sold to Mohamed Al-Fayed.