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A Royal Welcome

After receiving keys to the city, His Royal Highness, Edward, Duke of Windsor, and his wife, Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, seated next to Mayor Chep Morrison, watched the 1950 Rex parade from the Gallier Hall viewing stand, toasting Rueben H. Brow, that year’s King of Carnival. They were then driven to the Boston Club for more parade viewing, including Rex’s toast to his queen, followed by lunch with Mardi Gras royalty. Photo provided courtesy of the New Orleans Public Library.

Arriving Mardi Gras morning, 1950, at 7 a.m. by private train car, His Royal Highness, Edward, Duke of Windsor, and his wife, Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, were taken first to the St. Charles Hotel to settle in and then began what many of us are familiar with on Mardi Gras: a very long day of parades and parties.

Later, following dinner at Antoine’s, the Duke and Duchess attended both the Comus and Rex balls. The Duchess wore a lavender satin gown and an amethyst and diamond necklace, but no corsage, which she turned down at Rex, saying “I never wear flowers on my clothing.”

The highlight of the evening was a moment that had been widely speculated about before the visit: Who would bow to whom? As per tradition, the Mardi Gras royalty didn’t bow to anyone, including the Windsors, but they did nod and wave their scepters at them. For the British royalty, however, it was a different story. Upon being presented to the royal courts, the Duke bowed from the waist, and the Duchess made a deep, elegant curtsey, delighting onlookers. Later, the Duchess remarked, “But of course I curtsied. I wouldn’t have thought of doing otherwise.”
Before leaving New Orleans the following day, the Duke toured the waterfront, referring to the Mississippi River as “terrific,” but also “a bit muddy.” The Duchess, meanwhile, toured the Garden District and commented on New Orleans, saying it “has more charm than any city of I’ve seen. I love the city’s history and traditions. … I’d like to live in New Orleans.”

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