John Mcewen com­ments on Ed­ward Prince of Wales, Later King Ed­ward VIII and the Duke of Wind­sor

Country Life Every Week - - My Favourite Painting Tim Gosling -

JOHN A. A. BERRIE stud­ied at Liver­pool’s Boo­tle Art School in Paris and at the por­traitist Hu­bert von Herkomer’s school in Bushey, Hert­ford­shire. He was best known as a sport­ing artist and por­traitist, his sub­jects in­clud­ing Churchill, Ge­orge V and, in the Na­tional Por­trait Gallery, the cham­pion jockey Steve Donoghue. He worked in Lon­don, Liver­pool—where he is well rep­re­sented in the Walker Art Gallery’s col­lec­tion—and Har­ro­gate be­fore em­i­grat­ing to South Africa.

This un­dated por­trait seems to have been painted when the ill­fated Prince was about 30, seven years be­fore he met his neme­sis, the Amer­i­can di­vor­cée Mrs Wal­lis Simp­son. History has so de­rided Ed­ward VIII for putting his love of a woman above his sacred duty as king, it’s worth re­mem­ber­ing that the dis­may this caused was deep­ened by his tremen­dous pop­u­lar­ity—with his staff as much as the pub­lic world­wide. ‘He won me com­pletely,’ wrote Alan Las­celles on be­com­ing his as­sis­tant pri­vate sec­re­tary in 1920. ‘He is the most at­trac­tive man I’ve ever met.’

The Prince’s boy­ish looks matched his char­ac­ter. He was the dar­ling of the crowds for his ap­pear­ance and charm, yet, as the Prime Min­is­ter Stan­ley Bald­win said, he re­mained half a child, volatile, petu­lant, self­ish and sub­ject to self-doubt as well as black de­pres­sions. ‘If only the Bri­tish pub­lic re­ally knew what a weak, pow­er­less mis­ery their press-made na­tional hero was,’ the Prince wrote to Mrs Wil­liam (Freda) Dud­ley Ward, his mistress for 16 years be­fore Mrs Simp­son ar­rived and forced him to choose be­tween the two.

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