Royal Oak on the Royals

By Judy Carmack Bross


Author Jane Tippett

“British royalty is at a very vulnerable point now with two members facing health crises, and  then the impact of Prince Harry’s book Spare.  Revisiting The Duke and Duchess of Windsor is actually very relevant. Although Princess Diana gave up her royal life, the Duke of Windsor’s abdication is really closest to what’s going on now.” —Author Jane Marguerite Tippett

Over 70 Chicago Anglophiles were delighted with the Spring 2024 Royal Oak Foundation lecture at Newberry Library recently when the glamorous historian, researcher and author Jane Marguerite Tippett described recent royal parallels as she told about her fascinating new book, Once a King:  The Lost Memoir of Edward VIII.

Trippett brought new insight into Edward’s time as Prince of Wales and the events of his abdication from his own writings which he could not or would not publish in 1951—shifting the understanding of the history of 20th century British Monarchy.She weaves together Edward’s writing alongside newly uncovered interviews with the Duke and Duchess, diary entries from ghostwriter Charles Murphy and other sources.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor

Tippett told us:

“It was just all so startling at the time.  Even in Hollywood, think Roman Holiday, you just didn’t abdicate. In many ways the Duke and Duchess will forever remain enigmas, but I think that he was really searching for more.  I don’t think he ever regretted the loss of his kingship but he did regret the bitterness and family rift: that there was no title for Wallis, no job for him post abdication, and that he could no longer live at Fort Belvedere” she said.  “He told his ghostwriter that being king might be a great job, a fine one, but it was just a job. He wanted this opportunity for personal happiness.”

(L to R) Jackie & Jonathan Thomas

(L to R) Bill Barrett, Greg Barton, Leland Hutchinson and Jean Perkins

(L to R) Tripp and Bunny Dale, James M. Kinney, Jane Marguerite Tippett (speaker) and Brian D. White

We asked Tippett what people asked most about the Duke and Duchess:

“After the parallel with Prince Harry they want to know about their supposed Nazi connection.  I do not believe that he was a Nazi sympathizer. His trip to Germany was somewhat like Harry and Meghan’s recent trip to Nigeria. He was there for a total of 24 hours, inspecting public health facilities, and other British leaders had visited as well. He also spent time in Lisbon where many fled the Nazi occupation. He had served in World War I and witnessed those defining horrors of military conflict and hated warfare. I think his talk of appeasement was confused with Nazi support through third-hand conversations.” 

Tippett is currently researching a new book on the British royals, although she isn’t revealing her subjects at this point.  “I love research and it just snowballs.  I find myself combining the research and writing at the same time, tying to keep it finely tuned.”  She is also an editor and photographer.

(L to R) David Sweet and Dave Meisheimer

(L to R) Mark Anderson and Chris Woodward

Royal Oak supports the National Trust of England, Wales, and the North of Ireland, manager of over 300 historic houses, castles, and gardens including nine UNESCO World Heritage sites. They have hosted many past lectures in Chicago with homeowners–or castle owners as the case may be–such as Lord Robert Sackville, Simon Kerry and the Duchess of Rutland, as well as best-selling authors such as Sally Bedell Smith. Gardeners from National Trust sites such as Sissinghurst, and noted historians such as Tracy Borman and Lucy Worsley, recognizable from their appearances on BBC and PBS, have also been popular speakers. 

(L to R) Jean and Peter Morris

Alex Gaudieri 

New York Times best-selling author Sonia Purnell will speak October 15 at a private club.  In her only mid-West event, Putnell will talk about the life of one of the 20th century’s greatest power players: Pamela Harriman. “While Harriman’s true legacy is often overshadowed by her glitzy social life and erotic adventures, she certainly influenced the outcome of WWII and transformed global politics through the late 1990s.” The Royal Oak’s Jennie McCahey told us. “Sonia’s latest book, Kingmaker: Pamela Harriman’s Astonishing Life of Power, Seduction, and Intrigue, will be published in October.

(L to R) James M. Kinney, Cynthia Olson and Marshall Erb

Details will be announced soon. To find out more information, please call 212-480-2889, ext 200 and ask to be added to the invitation list. To find out more about Royal Oak visit