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In Paris, the sultry Windsor Villa will be transformed into a museum.
The former mansion of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, one of the most sulphurous couples of their time, will open to the public as a museum in 2024.
Located on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne and on the outskirts of Neuilly, the Windsor Villa is about to get a second life. According to Le Parisien, the mansion, which until now was owned by the City of Paris, has just been awarded to the Mansart Foundation after a vote by the Paris Council this spring. After some renovation work, it should, by 2024, become a museum dedicated to 20th century furniture and be open to the public.
Though the building was occupied by General de Gaulle between 1944 and 1946, it is best known for having housed Edward VIII, the great-uncle of King Charles III, and his wife, the American Wallis Simpson. The couple, exiled in France since the abdication of Edward in 1936, lived there from 1953. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor died at home in Paris in 1972 and 1986 respectively.
In the fourteen rooms of this opulent villa, sumptuously decorated by Stéphane Boudin, director of the House of Jansen, the two spouses, who were extremely social, organized numerous receptions and wild parties. This contributed to the myth, full of scandals, that still clings to the building today.
In the late 1980s, Egyptian businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed, owner of the Ritz and Harrod’s in London, took over the property, which had been rented from the Paris City Council. He restored and modernized the home while keeping the royal furniture, bought after the death of the Windsor couple. He renamed the property the Windsor Villa.
He then thought of installing his son, Dodi Al-Fayed, and Princess Diana, who visited the place the same day they died, in 1997. After their deaths, the businessman decided to leave the mansion and sell the royal furniture at auction. He finally ended the lease in 2018. Since then, the house has remained unoccupied.