King Charles' great uncle the Duke of Windsor left him a bizarre token in his will - but the controversial royal, who abdicated, didn't factor in the obvious

King Charles' great uncle the Duke of Windsor famously abdicated to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson, despite this they formed an unlikely bond

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales attends the Braemar Highland Gathering
(Image credit: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

King Charles and the Duke of Windsor had an unexpected bond towards the end of the late Duke's life. So much so that the late royal left him a collection that was very important to him. Priceless paintings? Jewels? Properties and land? No, he left him his collection of kilts. A collection that was useless to him for the most relatable reason.


Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson posing at the Castle of Conde on their wedding day. Monts, 3rd June 1937.

(Image credit: Mondadori/Getty Images)

King Charles and the Duke of Windsor shared an unlikely bond towards the end of his life, but waist measurements weren't something the royal relatives shared. 

The story is detailed by veteran newspaper diarist and gossip Kenneth Rose in his personal diaries, which were published following his death in 2014. The diaries were released as books after he died, aged 89, and the second volume, titled Who Wins, Who Loses, included the Duke's behest and what Charles had to say about it! Excerpts from the second volume shared in the Daily Mail (opens in new tab), dated January 25, 1986, detail the incident.

"Prince Charles tells me that the only thing the Duke of Windsor left him in his will was a collection of kilts," wrote the diarist. Then, quoting the then Prince of Wales Charles he added,  "‘But as my great-uncle was such a tiny man, none of them fit me!'"

King Edward VIII (1894 - 1972) inspects a Scottish regiment at Balmoral. Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, purchased Balmoral Castle in 1846, and the small castle which stood in the 7,000 hectare wooded estate was redeveloped in the 1850s.The granite building was designed by Aberdeen architect William Smith with suggestions from Albert himself, who decided the interior decoration should represent a Highland shooting box with tartan or thistle chintzes, and walls decorated with trophies and weapons. Queen Victoria often visited the Highlands with her family, especially after Albertfs death in 1861, and Balmoral is still a popular retreat for the present royal family.

(Image credit: Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Despite the Royal Family's disdain towards the Duke of Windsor and his wife Wallis Simpson, King Charles formed a bond with his great uncle, who became like a mentor to him - for the most unusual reason.

The connection between the two men, according to town&country (opens in new tab), was made by Lord Louis Mountbatten who was a close friend of both. "I think he saw the damage the abdication did," historian Andrew Lownie told the publication, "and he had a very strong sense of public duty himself and he was trying to inculcate that into the next generation." 

Portrait of the Duke of Windsor with the Duchess wearing a blue St. Laurent dress and coat during a trip in on the Michelangelo on March 30, 1971 into New York..Article title: "Eye"

(Image credit: Nick Machalaba/WWD/Penske Media/Getty Images)

Although they maintained contact for some time via letters, the pair did meet at least once. Historian Chris Wilson told town&country of how, as a young reporter, he discovered the meeting in Paris on October 4, 1970.  On learning that Prince Charles was in the French capital with no engagements in his schedule - he reached out to the Duke.

"I called the duke's private secretary, John Utter, expecting him to deny it had taken place, but instead Utter called me round to the house to give me full chapter and verse - astonishing, because in those days the royals never ever discussed private meetings," he explained. 

"What I wasn't to know was the duke was keen to get the meeting out into the public domain - he was coming to the end of his days and wanted reconciliation and a recognition of his place in history - by the 1970s, he'd been largely forgotten."

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, his wife Queen Elizabeth II, their son Charles, Prince of Wales, with Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor (second on the L).

(Image credit: James Andanson/Sygma/Getty Images)

The Windsors had a visit from Queen Elizabeth II, her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and Charles, during a 1972 state visit to Paris, France - in the final days of Prince Edward's life.

Sadly, despite this meeting, the Duke of Windsor never got the reconciliation he so desperately craved. He died at age 77 on May 28, 1972 in Paris. He was buried in the Royal Burial ground near Windsor Castle. His wife Wallis, who died aged 89 in 1986, was buried next to him. 

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales attend the funeral of the Duchess of Windsor.

(Image credit: Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images)

Both funerals were attended by a tight-knit group of Royal Family members and according to biographer Ingrid Seward, Princess Diana claimed she had only seen the Queen cry once and it was at Wallis' funeral.

Aoife Hanna
Junior News Editor

Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.

She's an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.