A fake fag for the Prince of Wales

cavalcade-1936-December-12-edward-with-cigarette.jpeg

The moment I saw this image, I thought the cigarette had been added as a way of marketing smoking. The issue of Cavalcade, a news weekly, is from 1936, and is dated December 12, the day after Edward VIII had abdicated, taking the title the Duke of Windsor, over his relationship with the US divorcee, Wallis Simpson. He had spent less than a year on the throne, since January 20.

The next time the photo popped up was in the Windsor, in a coloured version for the September 1929 issue. Blowing up the image convinced me the cigarette had been painted on the print or negative.

windsor_1929_9_fag_.jpg

The cigarette looks as if it was painted on the print or negative 

The photograph was by Ernest Brooks, who was appointed by the royal family and was a newspaper photographer. He was the first British official war photographer to be assigned to the Western Front. The image dates to October 1919, when Edward, then the Prince of Wales and a captain in the Royal Navy, went on a royal tour to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  It was used in several publications at the time, including Tatler magazine (December 3).

But, blow me down, the image is on Getty Images, credited to Ernest Brooks and the Central Press, a Fleet Street photo agency. Alamy has several versions of the image also. Presumably, the Getty digital file is from the original print. Again, the cigarette looks painted on, but the caption makes no mention of any alteration. Nobody else is smoking.

Edward-14-October-1919-Prince-of_Wales-in-Halifax

Edward, Prince of Wales, in Canada (14th October 1919) at Getty Images

Did Edward smoke? The answer is clearly yes. He did spend time on the Western Front and everyone seemed to smoke then. There is a 1919 shot of him in army uniform holding a cigarette in his right hand in the royal collection. Dorothy Wilding did a 1955 photo shoot of the duke with a cigarette and there are photos around the same time of him smoking a pipe and cigars. But images of him smoking a fag before he became king seem rare. It also struck me as odd that an officer would smoke in uniform at a public event. As navy regulations state today:

When transiting in uniform Service personnel are not to eat, smoke (including e-cigarettes which the MOD considers the same as traditional cigarettes) …

The Brooks photograph was also used in a 2016 Telegraph story about the playboy prince – who had the nickname ‘Prince of Sports’ in the 1920s. The headline on the story was: ‘The real workshy Prince: How Edward VIII complained about “strain” of shaking hands with well-wishers on a Royal Tour’. Whether the cigarette was a fabrication or the image was simply altered to make the cigarette more obvious will have to remain one of those mysteries.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: