‘It is hard to believe that there can ever have been an interior more surpassingly clean,’ Vogue photographer Horst V Horst said of the mansion, quoted in Architectural Digest, ‘where crystal was more genuinely scintillating and porcelain more luminous, or where wood and leather, polished to the consistency of precious stone, could more truthfully be said to shine.’ The duke and duchess died in the house in 1972 and 1986, respectively. The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles visited the Duke and Duchess of Windsor at the property shortly before the Duke of Windsor’s death.
Following the tenure of its first royal residents, Mohammed Al Fayed signed a 50-year lease on the villa, and re-decorated the mansion extensively, dubbing it ‘Villa Windsor’. He claims it was destined to become Princess Diana’s home: she and her lover, his son Dodi Al Fayed, visited the mansion for half an hour the day before their tragic deaths.
The Foundation Monsart aims to ‘preserve and promote French heritage’, and ‘manages a large collection of archives and works of art, which are regularly presented to a large audience every year’, according to its website. The announcement comes just days before King Charles III’s and Queen Consort’s state visit to France.