A leather album titled The Wynyard Park Owl and HRH The Prince of Wales, 23 October 1896 records the visit of Edward, Prince to Wales to Wynyard Park in County Durham. He was part of a shooting party and during the visit it is claimed the Prince shot an owl. The photographer at the event had the bird stuffed, but it’s thought the future King was so horrified by the potential disgrace of having shot an owl that the whole story was covered up.
Sworders’ managing director, Guy Schooling said, “At the time shooting an owl would have been looked upon very badly and the letters contained in the album clearly show that the Prince of Wales was very keen to distance himself from this incident. In fact, if you look online even today there’s no record of this event or the shooting taking place at all – the only evidence is this album.
“The letters show that the photographer sent a picture of the stuffed owl to Sandringham, but he had a very brusque reply from the Prince’s Private Secretary. I can only imagine how horrified he would have been to have offended the future King so much.
“The album … includes all the photographs and letters about the incident. There is a picture of the stuffed owl, but there’s no evidence that it still exists; perhaps it was destroyed to save the Prince’s reputation.”
The leather-bound album of photographs and the original letters will be sold at Sworders’ Country House sale in Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex on Tuesday 26th February. It is a unique record of a royal scandal and the auctioneers have suggested a guide price of £400 to £600.
View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
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