Royal wedding: Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, the scandal that upset the British monarchy forever

It all began in the 1930s. The sulphurous Wallis Simpson, wife of businessman Ernest Simpson, first met Prince Edward during a stay at Fort Belvedere, in the English countryside. At the time, the American was invited by Viscountess Furness, Thelma, an emblematic figure of British social life and mistress of the heir to the throne, with whom she befriended. Could she have imagined that her fate would change? Probably not. Some whisper that the two young people exchange together during the evening. That’s all. However, in 1934, Thelma had to be away for a few weeks in the United States and wrote to her friend Barbara Cartland: “I asked Wallis to take care of the ‘little man’. He will be in good hands with her. In turn, she is forced to realize that Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson have come closer and this, even though she is still married. It is also this casual attitude that the British will retain, while the royal family categorically refuse their marriage.

In England in the 1930s, it seemed unthinkable that the future heir to the British throne could marry a married woman. Twice, moreover. Before marrying Ernest Simpson in 1928, Wallis had a first union with Earl Windfield Spencer Jr, a naval officer with whom she shared her life for eleven years, before divorcing. However, despite these two unions, Prince Edward seems indeed in love with the beautiful American.

The death of King George V

On January 20, 1936, King George V died and his eldest son Prince Edward ascended to the English throne, becoming Edward VIII. For his part, Wallis Simpson attends, discreetly, his coronation from the window of St James Palace. An affront to the people. The following summer, the two future spouses go on vacation together, off the Mediterranean. “So far, at least in public, he has been discreet with Willis. But on vacation, he completely forgets to be careful and dozens of photographers follow them during their cruise, ”said the biographer of Edward VIII, Ted Powell. This is how a stolen snapshot of their vacation is revealed in the international press. We discover the young woman putting her hand on the arm of the now King of England. A way to affirm, in the eyes of all, his love for Wallis Simpson? In any case, the photography will indeed mark a turning point in their relationship. While the United Kingdom refuses to mention this royal liaison, oh so frowned upon, it becomes public all over the world. The scandal breaks out in broad daylight.

Faced with the media madness surrounding their romance, Wallis Simpson wrote to King Edward VIII in September: “I am sure that you and I, together, we can only go to disaster. But it is already too late and the King of England has made up his mind. On November 16, 1936, the latter announced to the then Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, his intention to marry his beloved, who was now divorced. Against all odds. “Whether on the throne or not, I will marry him.” ”

Love triumphs

December 11, 1936. Despite the unanimous disapproval of the British monarchy and the ultimatum of Stanley Baldwin, urging him to renounce his love or the crown, Edward VIII chose the path of the heart. During a radio address broadcast on the BBC, he announces his decision – some whisper that Wallis Simpson heard the news while in France. Faced with a dumbfounded people, the now prince – he is no longer king at the time of his speech, Edward renounces the British throne, forever changing the life of his brother the Duke of York, that of his wife Elizabeth Bowes -Lyon but also their eldest daughter Elizabeth, now first in the line of succession after her father and future Queen Elizabeth II. “I found it impossible to continue to carry out the duties incumbent on me as king without the help and support of the woman I love,” he explained. After only 325 days of reign, the monarch gives up his title of king, while the Duke of York immediately inherits the throne, and takes the name of George VI. He was crowned on May 12, 1937. His eldest son is now free to marry Wallis Simpson.

Held responsible for the abdication of King Edward, the young American will remain one of the most disparaged figures in the history of the royal family. Under fire from critics, the couple decide to flee the United Kingdom. “I have been working for my country for twenty years and they kicked me out,” the prince confided to biographer Kenneth Rose a few years later. Together, they settle in the castle of Candé, property of the sulphurous Charles Bedeaux located in Indre-et-Loire. They unite there on June 3, 1937. Wallis Simpson is dressed in a dress signed Schiaparelli, while no member of the British royal family is present for the event. The titles of Duke and Duchess of Windsor are granted to them but the predicate of Royal Highness will be attributed only to Edward. Whatever. The latter is determined to prove to his wife that she does not need the title. He takes him to Germany – where his proximity to Hitler will further tarnish his image, to the Bahamas, the United States and then to France in 1953. There, they take up their quarters in a sublime mansion, not far from the Bois de Boulogne. , and build the life they always dreamed of. A life punctuated by travels, receptions and other social events lasting nearly two decades.

But reality will catch up with the two spouses in 1972. That year, the Duke of Windsor disappears in his Parisian residence, less than a month before his 78th birthday.e birthday. He leaves behind the memory of a boundless romance with Wallis Simpson, who will inspire Madonna a few years later with her feature film “WE”, and which even the British Crown could not resist.

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