11th January 1949

Royal theft inquiry heads to Guernsey

Scotland Yard detectives flew to Guernsey on 11 January 1949, ready to start work the following day on a lead they were pursuing. The London police were following up the theft of £250,000 worth of jewellery from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

The Duke and Duchess, formerly King Edward VII and Wallis Simpson, had lived in France since the Duke’s abdication, but were staying at Ednam Lodge, Sunningdale, when the valuables disappeared.

The robbery itself had been daring but somewhat clumsy, and when the royal couple returned from London to discover what had happened, they naturally involved the police right away. A search of the grounds was organised, during which officers found around £30,000 worth of jewellery scattered on the ground.

Moreover, where many of the looted items had originally been pairs, in several cases the thief or thieves had taken only half of the set. This would make identifying the missing part easier should it ever turn up.

Although it was obvious how they had gained access – they’d climbed a drainpipe outside the royal couple’s window – they’d been careful not to leave any identifying marks behind.

A lead on Guernsey

However, Guernsey Police had somehow come across jewellery that seemed to match the missing gems’ description and their colleagues from London – Detective Sergeant Monk and Chief Detective Inspector Capstick – had a list of people they wanted to interview on the island.

In 2003, the National Archives in Kew released its file on the case, in which Scotland Yard named housebreaker Arthur Charles Holmes as the culprit. He was never brought to justice because they had neither sufficient evidence, nor a confession.

He had lived close to the Sunningdale residence and, the year after the break-in, was arrested and sentenced for 26 cases of housebreaking.


FREE Guernsey history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Guernsey's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want. We'll also keep you up to date with our latest book releases and early-bird discounts.


Other events that occured in January

Alderney elects its first president 1st
Guille and Alles open their library 2nd
Guernsey bans smoking in public places 3rd
Guernsey Press registers its domain 4th
Guernsey Zoo is sold as a going concern 5th
Guernsey opens its wartime files
Guernsey Police moves to its new headquarters 6th
Guernsey Fisher makes its maiden voyage 7th
Work begins on the Val des Terres 8th
A hotel porter goes on trial for murder 9th
Guernsey Police Service appoints its first inspector 10th
Royal theft inquiry heads to Guernsey 11th
Channel Express Airways plane crashes in Guernsey 12th
Sibyl Hathaway, Dame of Sark, is born 13th
Channel Television disappears 14th
Benefactor Osmond de Beauvoir Priaulx dies 15th
MV Prosperity is wrecked at Perelle 16th
Guernsey’s Royal Court sits for the first time 17th
Doctor Who travels to Guernsey 18th
Channel 4 gameshow Treasure Hunt comes to Guernsey 19th
Hanois Lighthouse is cut off by the weather 20th
Guernsey-built prototype plane crashes 21st
Guernsey Steam Tramway stops running 22nd
Radiant Med sinks with loss of life 23rd
Guernsey wins gold at the Commonwealth Games 24th
Sark is awarded Dark-Sky status 25th
Guernsey passengers are battered by storms 26th
Sir Isaac Newton has his say on a mysterious Guernsey invention 27th
Guernsey’s last witch trial takes place 28th
Guernsey poet George Métivier is born 29th
The States of Guernsey proposes a new airport 30th
Guernsey lifeboat performs a chemical tanker rescue 31st