For the first time ever, the Parisian home where former King Edward VIII lived for decades with his American wife, Wallis Simpson, will be open to the public next year, according to a report from CNN. The neoclassical structure, known as Villa Windsor, is set to open as a museum and event space in time for the Paris Olympics in summer 2024.
Edward VIII, later known as the Duke of Windsor, reigned for slightly less than a year in 1936, before being abdicated from the throne due to his engagement to Simpson, who was in the midst of her second divorce. At the time, the Church of England prohibited divorcees to remarry. This set into motion the events that led to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, whose father (and Edward’s brother), George VI, was crowned following the abdication.
The 14-room mansion, which is surrounded by 3.7 acres of picturesque gardens, served as home to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor until their deaths in 1972 and 1986, respectively. The home, which is owned by the city of Paris, was then leased to Mohamed Al-Fayed, who returned it back to the city four years ago. “Al Fayed originally intended it as a home for his son Dodi and had planned an engagement lunch there for [his son] Dodi and [Princess] Diana,” Albéric de Montgolfier, president of Fondation Mansart, told CNN.
De Montgolfier’s charitable organization, which aims to preserve French heritage, has garnered a 32-year lease on the estate, which is in need of extensive renovations. Among them will be the installation of a new heating system, a permanent exhibition about the history of the building, a cafe, a restaurant, and other general renovations to bring the storied structure up to code. Admission will be free and open to the public. “It is a luxury house with a big, big dining room, a beautiful hall, a library and one and a half hectares of gardens,” de Montgolfier told CNN.