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Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson

Quick Facts

Him: King Edward VIII of England

Her: Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee

Setting: England, mid-20th century


In line for the British throne, since his birth in 1894, Edward took on the crown after his father’s death in 1936. Less than a year later, having been in love with Wallis Simpson since at least 1934, he stepped down in the face of tremendous opposition so he could marry the woman he adored.


Edward, Prince of Wales, could be regarded as the first modern royal in British history. Having been educated like many of his ancestors, he served in the army during World War I – much further from the front than he would have liked. Though he was unable to see combat, he did come across the horrors of battle, crossing paths with wounded soldiers and dead bodies returning from the front.

This, perhaps, changed his perspective upon what was important in life. Dashingly handsome and incredibly charming, Edward was famous for his ability to connect with women, but one in particular grabbed hold of his heart and would not let go: Wallis Simpson, an American living with her husband in London when the two first met in 1931.

Three years later, left alone while her husband was away on business, Wallis joined several others on a cruise with Prince Edward aboard a yacht owned by Lord Moyne. At last, it seemed the attraction was mutual.

The relationship took an interesting turn when the Prince of Wales was named King Edward VIII upon his father’s death in early 1936. Distrusting of older policies he felt kept the monarchy stuck in the past, Edward quickly dismissed a series of advisors and took the knife to the budget, cutting royal salaries by a large percentage. Official correspondence would often go unanswered and, as the year progressed, Edward was increasingly late to royal events.

In December of 1936, as the anger in Parliament grew wider, the king was advised that the press would no longer look kindly on his pairing with Wallis and the entire government may quit if it continued. Having decided he wished to marry, King Edward VIII abdicated against Wallis’ wishes after just 323 days on the throne – a scandal of the highest order.

Shunned by the royal family, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor – the title bestowed upon them by Edward’s brother, King George VI – would live out the rest of their lives exiled in France.


The impact of this love story on the world is quite obvious: never in history had someone stepped aside from such a high profile role in order to be with someone so common. The story of Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson, though regarded with suspicion by many, is notable for the dedication displayed by the former king.

Though some have accused Wallis of being more in love with the title than the man, few could doubt the reality of her feelings after his death in 1972: secluded from the world, she hardly left her bed.

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