by Sophia Moseley
There have been countless books and newspaper articles written on the subject and Madonna even made a film about their relationship, but will we ever know the truth behind one of the greatest monarchical crises that rocked the Establishment to its very core and created the now familiar House of Windsor with Elizabeth II on the throne?
Bessie Wallis Warfield was born on 19 June 1896 but within a few months of her birth, her father died from TB leaving Bessie and her mother reliant on the generous handouts of a wealthy uncle.
So was Wallis (her first name was not used) a product of her upbringing or was she always destined to play a leading role in Britain’s history?
King Edward is the only British monarch to resign voluntarily and his determination to marry Wallis nearly caused a constitutional crisis when the Government threatened to resign en masse if Edward went ahead with the marriage whilst remaining King of England.
Thus Edward chose his love for Wallis over his commitment to the country when he formally abdicated the throne on 10 December 1936 (having been King of England for less than 11 months). He famously said during a radio broadcast:
“At long last I am able to say a few words of my own.... I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility ..... without the help and support of the woman I love.....”
Edward’s younger brother became George VI immediately and he gave the title of the Duke of Windsor to Edward who married Wallis in France on 3 June 1937.
Much of the truth behind Edward and Wallis Simpson’s early life together is shrouded in mystery and unsubstantiated allegations; perhaps the greatest one relating to the birth of a baby girl sometime around 1934.
The suggestion is that their new born baby was replaced at birth with someone else’s still born baby making them think their’s had died at birth; but allegedly she was whisked away to Baltimore in America.
The young couple would have been devastated, which could explain why they often look so sad in the many photographs taken. Other evidence to support this allegation includes Wallis’ unexplained weight gain and loss around this time along with her signature: ‘W. E. 3’ referring to the family of three that was to never be.
Then there was the speech given by Edward: “....And he (his brother, George V) has one matchless blessing, enjoyed by so many of you, and not bestowed on me – a happy home with his wife and children....”
So was it Prince Edward’s abdication or the death of their baby that led to the great sadness that seems to show in so many of the photographs of the couple, further cementing their disgraced relationship and later marriage?
There is no doubting the irreconcilable differences that occurred between Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and Wallis, she made no bones about it; putting the cause of her husband’s untimely death firmly at the door of Mrs Simpson’s shenanigans (even though George VI was a heavy smoker and unwell for many years).
But was Wallis to blame?
One thing is for sure, she was no shrinking violet; at twenty her first marriage was to a US Navy pilot but this ended in divorce in 1927, by which time she was already involved with an Anglo-American shipping executive and they were married in July 1928.
However it was just two years later that Wallis first met Prince Edward and between 1931 and 1934, they met on many occasions with Wallis being presented at court.
Then in 1934 when Edward’s then mistress, Lady Furness went to America, Wallis soon replaced her in Edward’s affections, Edward becoming besotted with her dominant and assertive character.
But don’t be fooled into thinking Edward was the innocent and being led astray by Wallis; he too had had a succession of affairs with older married women and his behaviour was of grave concern not only to his father, George V, but also Prime Minister Baldwin.
But did Edward have what it took to be the country’s monarch and just how different would our lives be had he remained on the throne?
There is no doubt friendships existed between the Duke and Duchess and a number of high profile German Nazi’s, including Hitler himself. Many believed her dislike of the British was due to her rejection by the Royal family and for that matter, the country. When Britain was bombed during 1940 she allegedly said:
“I can’t say I feel sorry for them.”
But given their friendship with Nazi Germany, the outcome of the German invasion may well have been a very different story. In 1966, the Duke commented in the New York Daily News that:
“....it was in Britain’s interest.... that Germany be encouraged to strike east and smash Communism forever...”
We are now looking forward to celebrating the Diamond Jubilee and successful rule of Edward’s niece, but had Edward been allowed to remain on the throne I wonder how different the world would be?