The love story between Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII shocked the British monarchy in the 1930s. Their controversial romance led the king to abdicate the throne so he could marry the divorced woman.
Find out who Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII were, how they met, why their relationship was so controversial, and all the shocking facts surrounding this royal affair.
Who was Wallis Simpson?
Wallis Simpson was born Bessie Wallis Warfield in 1896 in Pennsylvania, USA. She came from a wealthy family who had lost their fortune.
She married her first husband Win Spencer in 1916. The marriage was abusive and ended in divorce in 1927.
That same year she married her second husband Ernest Simpson, a British businessman. They moved to London where Wallis joined high society.
By the time she met Prince Edward in 1931, Wallis was an American socialite, twice divorced.
Who was King Edward VIII?
Edward VIII was born Prince Edward in 1894. He was the eldest son of King George V and Queen Mary.
He became Prince of Wales in 1910. During the 1930s, he was seen as a symbol of modernity because of his informal style.
After the death of his father in 1936, Edward became king under the name Edward VIII. However, his reign only lasted 326 days.
How Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII met
Wallis Simpson and Prince Edward met in 1931 during a weekend at a country house.
Simpson’s bold personality caught the prince’s attention. Soon after, she became part of his inner circle through her friend Thelma Furness.
By 1933, the relationship had become secretly romantic. The obsessed Edward showered Wallis with jewels and attention.
Why their relationship was controversial
Several factors made Wallis and Edward’s relationship extremely controversial:
– Wallis was married: when she began her affair with the prince, she was still married to Ernest Simpson.
– She was American and divorced: as a two-time divorcee, Wallis was seen as a totally inappropriate woman for the British heir.
– Family opposition: the royal family, especially Queen Mary, were strongly opposed to the relationship.
– Constitutional crisis: the British government warned the king that he could not marry Wallis while he was monarch.
The abdication of King Edward VIII
Edward VIII’s determination to marry Wallis Simpson provoked a constitutional crisis in 1936.
Prime Minister Baldwin and the rest of the government opposed the marriage, as did the royal family.
On December 10, 1936, Edward VIII abdicated the throne after 326 days of reign. He resigned in order to marry Wallis, who had divorced that year.
Edward’s younger brother, George VI, became the new king in his place.
The wedding and exile of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor
After the abdication, Edward received the title of Duke of Windsor. He married Wallis in France in June 1937.
No member of the royal family attended the controversial wedding. Wallis was denied the treatment of “Her Royal Highness”.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor lived in exile in France. Their closeness to the Nazis during World War II caused great controversy.
The legacy of royal romance
The love affair between Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII had far-reaching consequences, causing a constitutional crisis in Britain that culminated in Edward’s abdication.
Their obsessive relationship changed the course of the British monarchy. Had Edward not abdicated, neither George VI nor Elizabeth II would have reigned.
Edward’s brief reign and exile damaged the monarchy’s reputation with the British public.
Although controversial and disruptive, this royal romance went down in history and remains in the collective memory decades later.
What happened to Wallis Simpson after Edward died?
Edward died of throat cancer on May 28, 1972 in Paris at the age of 77. Wallis was by his side at the end.
After his funeral at Windsor Castle, Wallis returned to her home in Paris alone. She was 76 years old.
She became increasingly frail and reclusive over her final years, rarely making public appearances.
Her controversial lawyer Suzanne Blum tightly controlled her affairs and limited visitors, leading to allegations that Wallis was a virtual prisoner.
Wallis’ mental and physical health deteriorated, including signs of dementia. She reportedly became fully dependent on nurses.
On April 24, 1986, Wallis died at her Paris home at the age of 89. The cause was believed to be heart failure.
She was buried next to Edward at Frogmore estate in Windsor, reuniting the couple in death. Queen Elizabeth II attended her funeral.
After Wallis died, her vast jewelry collection was auctioned off by Sotheby’s for over $50 million. The proceeds went to the Pasteur Institute medical organization.
Wallis’ last years were years of loneliness, her health declining until she became an isolated widow. She died 14 years after her eternal love.
Wallis Simpson had androgen insensitivity syndrome
There is speculation, but no definitive evidence, that Wallis Simpson may have had an intersex condition called androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS). Here are some key points about this controversial theory:
AIS is a genetic condition where a person is genetically male (XY chromosomes) but their body does not respond to male sex hormones called androgens. As a result, they develop some or all female physical characteristics.
In complete AIS, the person has external female genitalia. In partial AIS, they can have ambiguous genitalia. Most people with AIS are infertile.
The theory was first suggested in the 1980s by writer Michael Bloch, who claimed Wallis was biologically male and had complete AIS.
Bloch cited Wallis’ slim, tall figure and inability to have children as “evidence” for this claim. However, her physical appearance alone does not confirm or rule out AIS.
Other writers have debated the theory, arguing there’s no real proof Wallis had this genetic condition. Her medical records were not made public.
Critics say alleging Wallis had AIS was just a sensational way to explain why the Windsors had no children and portray Wallis as more “masculine”.
There is also no consensus on whether Wallis and Edward ever had full sexual relations. Some sources allege the couple had an unconventional or non-physical relationship.
Ultimately there is only speculation but no solid historical evidence that Wallis Simpson had any intersex trait such as androgen insensitivity syndrome. The theory remains controversial and unproven.