One of the largest scandals to ever rock the Royal Family happened in 1936. Prince Edward, later known as the Duke of Windsor, abdicated the throne in order to marry the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. After writing his abdication letter at Himley Hall, in the small village of Kingswinford, he was given the somewhat vague title of Governor of the Bahamas.
The couple bought a Bahamian mansion while awaiting completion of the renovation of Government House, the official residence. Named Sigrist House, it is one of the most exquisite properties in the islands and is now on the market, priced at $8.5 million, according to TopTenRealEstateDeals.com.
Within the Royal Family, Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, Prince of Wales, King Edward VIII and finally Duke of Windsor, was always considered an outlier. He made it clear from the outset that he valued happiness above duty — a bold stance to take even by today’s Royal standards (just look at the backlash Megan and Harry have received). As the country watched his romantic antics with married women and his party-boy behavior, it should have been no real surprise when he opted to be ruled by his heart rather than his duty to King and Country. England turned their back on him and the couple fled to France, where Edward’s title was changed to the Duke of Windsor.
Edward and Mrs. Simpson (as she was referred to) told the family that they would return to live in England in a couple of years, but his mother, Queen Mary, told him she would cut off his allowance if he ever moved back to Britain. In response, the couple decided to tour Germany against the advice of the Crown. The German tour raised many eyebrows and gossip began to circulate that the Duke had become a Nazi sympathizer. It was at this point, and for this reason, he was essentially exiled to the Bahamas and assigned the governor’s job in 1940 — a role that few knew existed or was needed.
Though praised for many good decisions that had positive outcomes for the Bahamians, Edward wasn’t happy there, feeling he was put there to be forgotten. He resigned in March 1945 and was welcomed into elite society in North America. The couple spent their later retirement in France.
Edward was buried in the Royal Burial Ground in Britain. In an act of respect from the Royal Family, Wallis was later buried beside him. Her grave was marked with “Wallis, Duchess of Windsor.”
On their arrival at the island of New Providence, the Windsors moved into this large country estate, where they lived until the Government House was renovated. Located on a ridge just outside of the city of Nassau on four acres overlooking gorgeous ocean and bay views, the Spanish-colonial home was built in the 1930s by British movie producer and aviation enthusiast Frederick Sigrist.
The 15,000-square-foot main residence has retained its British character with wood-paneled walls and fireplaces, four of which were imported from English country homes. The mahogany walls were shipped to England for finishing, then sent back to Nassau for installation.
In addition to the main residence with four bedrooms, there is a three-bedroom apartment and two four-bedroom guest houses — perfect for the party couple. Though it retains its original character, the entire property has been updated, modernized and refurbished from the roofs to electrical and plumbing, along with restoration of the wood and ironwork.
The tropical grounds are lushly planted and flow out from the terraces. They contain flower gardens, fruit and coconut trees. The swimming pool and spa have views of the ocean and manicured grounds. Restaurants, shops and a casino are only a short stroll from the estate.
Considered to be one of the most elegant estates in the Bahamas and host to many dignitaries over the years, it is now for sale. Priced at $8.5 million, the listing agent is Mark Hussey, of Damianos Sotheby’s International Realty, Nassau.