Anthony J. Camp - Marcelle Dormoy

Marie-Leonie Graftieaux (Marcelle Dormoy) (1895-1981). The former seamstress Marie-Leonie Graftieaux was a model for the French fashion designer Paul Poiret in Paris and then for Madeleine Vionnet. She took the name Marcelle Dormoy in 1915 and founded her own salon in Paris in 1929. She had considerable success in the 1930s and 1940s, continuing to work through the Occupation, but closed the salon in 1950 and went to New York for two months in October-November 1951. She died unmarried at Pau, France, 9 September 1981. She had by an un-named father an illegitimate child, Pierre-Edouard Graftieaux, who was born in Paris 15e, 5 June 1916, and registered in Paris 5e, 15 October 1917.

Pierre Graftieaux was educated at the Lycee Saint-Louis, Paris, and the Ecole Militaire de Saint-Cyr, was a prisoner in Colditz for three and a half years, and after the War was stationed at Fez, Marocco until 1956, then at Lille until 1958. He was then with the United Nations in Jerusalem, Beirut and Abidjan and finally with its Development Programme in New York, 1968-76. He died at La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland, 28 May 1994. He had married, 20 September 1942, Marie-Rose Kenel (1919-2013), daughter of Dr Charles Kenel, of Neuchatel, Switzerland, an eminent opthalmologist. They had three children: Rosine in 1945, Francois in 1946, and Pierre-Ivan in 1953, though the latter is not mentioned in the text or on the genealogical tables in Francois's book mentioned below. Francois Graftieaux, born at Fez in 1946, claims that Marcelle Dormoy told his father at Saint-Germain-des-Pres on 7 July 1933 that he was the son of the Prince of Wales but neither Marcelle Dormoy nor her son left any written statement to that effect. Her unpublished diaries, which survive for the years 1912-18, are not explicit though they apparently mention the Prince and other notables whom she met at Luna Park, an amusement park near the Bois de Boulogne, in 1912. Her son Pierre Graftieaux, a student aged 18, came to London from Marseilles as a First Class passenger on the Kaisir-i-Hind, arriving at Greenwich on 26 April 1935, presumably to witness the celebrations that May for the King's Silver Jubilee.

In 2016 Francois Graftieaux with Helene Grosso and Jean Siccardi wrote L'homme qui aurait du etre roi: l'incroyable recit du petit-fils cache d'Edouard VIII (Paris : Cherche-Midi, 2016) a book which inter-weaves a very few facts with much speculation. It was noticed in an article, 'I'm the Duke of Windsor's secret grandson', by Richard Kay in the Daily Mail for 8 October 2016 when an augmented version of the book was said to be about to be published in English. Richard Kay noted the book's 'fanciful speculation' and the 'mischievous title' (for the Prince renounced the throne both for himself and 'for my descendants') and he noted Philip Ziegler's damaging but clear conclusions in his biography of the Prince that the latter's first sexual experiences did not occur until November 1916.

In February 2019 I received a statement from someone who, since 1968, had known members of the Graftieaux family in America, France and Switzerland, including Francois's younger brother the late Dr Pierre-Ivan Graftieaux (known from 1972 as Pierre-Yvan Graftieaux, who underwent a sex-change and in 1984 took the name Gabrielle Graftieaux, dying at Figeac, Lot, France, in 1986) and their mother, the late Mrs Marie-Rose Graftieaux. My informant states that Mrs Graftieaux was 'completely taken by surprise' at her son Francois's claim that his father was the son of the Prince of Wales (a claim that Mrs Graftieaux had become aware of in 2004); that to her certain knowledge Marcelle Dormoy had told her son the name of his father (a French salesman with whom she had had a brief affair during his visit to Paris in 1915), and that after her husband's retirement in 1976 she had driven with him to his father's former place of residence in North-Eastern France, only to find that he had recently died.

However, a partly fictional version of the book appeared in 2019 under the title The king's son: a biography of Pierre Edouard Graftieaux the only son of the Duke of Windsor, 'researched, written and edited' by J.J. Barrie (Custom Book Publications, printed in Great Britain by Amazon) though I cannot see that the book includes anything to throw additional light on the claimed relationship with the Prince of Wales, though it contains a few additional details and photographs of Marcelle Dormoy and her son. The book should not be confused with another, also entitled The king's son, by Brad Michael Little (2017) which relates to a supposed son of King George V. The latter's claim to be descended from King George V is there shown from Y-DNA evidence to be impossible and M. Graftieaux should perhaps be asked provide similar evidence.

Anthony J Camp, amended 2 February 2020.