We all know about the famed romance of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, widely viewed as one of the great love stories of the twentieth century, the real-life fairy tale of a king who gave up his empire for the woman he loved.
And while there’s no question that Edward abdicated because of his love for Wallis, there have always been those who believe that much more went on behind the scenes.
In a new book and documentary, author Anne Sebba claims that Wallis never actually wanted to marry Edward and that she continued to love Ernest Simpson, the husband she divorced in order to marry the King.
At first, Sebba believes, Wallis was thrilled to be the object of Edward’s affection – a fling with a king. But she says that Edward became so obsessed with Simpson that he threatened to kill himself if she ever left him. According to Sebba, Simpson was more or less blackmailed into marriage with Edward.
In her research, Sebba says she came across 15 previously undiscovered letters Wallis wrote to Ernest during and after their divorce.
“My heart leapt,” she writes in The Telegraph, of the moment one of her sources gave her the collection of letters tied with a ribbon. “I realized I was holding dynamite.”
In the midst of her divorce proceedings, Wallis wrote to Ernest that her new relationship with Edward was “a mess and awakening emptiness.”
Even during her honeymoon with Edward, she wrote to Ernest, saying, “I think of us so much though I try not to.” And, later, during the couple’s infamous trip to Germany when they met with Hitler, Wallis wrote to her ex-husband: “Wherever you are, you can be sure that never a day goes by without some hours’ thought of you.”
“Wasn’t life lovely, sweet and simple,” Wallis also wrote. “I can’t believe that such a thing could have happened to two people who got along so well – at least it never should have been like it is now.”
Sebba writes that “this archive shows for the first time in 75 years how, far from being seen as the most romantic love story of the last century, the story of Wallis and Edward is really a tale of gothic darkness with a Faustian pact at its core.”
Sebba’s book, That Woman: A Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor has just been published in the UK, and the documentary Wallis Simpson: The Secret Letters aired Wednesday on Britain’s Channel 4.
In other royal related news:
• Hallmark is airing its docudrama William & Catherine: A Royal Romance on Saturday night. The movie was shot not in Buckingham Palace, or even in England, but in the presidential palace in Bucharest, Romania. It might have seemed removed from Buckingham Palace, but apparently during shooting, Prince Charles was visiting friends in another wing. And actress Alice St. Clair, who plays Kate, has an interesting royal connection: her father heads security for Queen Elizabeth. (via The Daily Tribune)
• Prince Harry took a break from his army training to visit a charity project that each year honors a daring overseas escape by 32 Dutchmen fleeing the Nazis in World War II. Only eight of the original Engelandvaarders, or England voyagers, survived the voyage, making it to Sizewell beach in Suffolk. That’s where Harry visited a group of modern-day kayakers who recreated the journey this week.
Wearing a baseball cap and combat pants, Harry said: ‘That the team – British and Dutch – have done so 70 years to within a few weeks after the gallant original Engelandvaarder undertook their legendary ordeal, serves as a fitting memorial to them all and in particular those who gave their lives during the crossing in 1941.” (via The Daily Mail)