Did the Duke of Windsor have a love child with a Parisian seamstress and buy her silence with money that helped her become one of the French capital’s top fashion designers? That’s what a new book by François Graftieaux suggests.
In fact the grandson of Marie-Léonie Graftieaux is so sure of his claims he’s even written a letter to Queen Elizabeth II requesting a DNA test be carried out to prove his grandfather was the monarch.
“I’m not asking for their love nor their money, nor indeed any power,” he says. “I just want to know if my origins, even illegitimate, are found to be here.”
In his book, The Man Who Should Have Been King, François claims the Duke had an affair with his grandmother during a trip to Paris in 1912.
Now 70, François says he believes the pair met in their late teens at Luna Park, a famous amusement park in Paris, highlighting that the evidence is supported in both the Duke’s memoirs and his grandmother’s diary.
It appears that shortly after the birth of her son in 1916, Marie-Léonie Graftieaux, who had been working as a seamstress and had done some modelling work for a well-known Parisian designer of the day, suddenly had the means to open her own fashion house and changed her name to Marcelle Dormoy. She went on to design dresses for French actresses and celebrities.
“I believe a secret contract was agreed in which she received money in exchange for her silence on the matter,” François told the Telegraph.
He says that while his grandmother was “tight-lipped” over his grandfather’s identity, when François was born his mother received a Van Cleef & Arpels ‘cadenas’ diamond bracelet, designed by the Duke of Windsor and said to be worth more than £250,000 today (A$430,000).
It was only after seeing a photograph of the former King that François thought anything of a connect, revealing that he thought it to be the “spitting image” of his father.
As Edward VIII, the Duke was King from January 20, 1936 to December 11 that same year, before abdicating to be with the woman he loved — Wallace Simpson. The Duke was a controversial figure in the royal family, known for an early admiration for Hitler and as a notorious womaniser.