Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 27, 2012

Wallis Simpson

October 27, 1936: Wallis Simpson becomes single – again. Born Bessie Wallis Warfield on June 19, 1896, she was an only child. She was born in Pennsylvania and her father died in November 1896 of tuberculosis. She and her mother depended on the charity of Solomon Davies Warfield, her rich uncle. When she was four, she and her mother moved in with a recently windowed aunt and then eventually moved into their own house. Her mother remarried in 1908. Wallis’s wealthy family helped to make sure she was educated in the best schools where she met other rich and famous people of her time. She was said to be quite intelligent and was the “head of her class” according to a classmate. She was always fashionably dressed and worked hard to do well.

She met Earl Winfield Spencer, Jr. at Pensacola, Florida while visiting a cousin. Win (as he was called) was a US Navy aviator. Wallis witnessed two plane crashes about two weeks apart which resulted in her lifelong fear of flying. She and Win, who did not crash his plane, were married on November 8, 1916. Win was an alcoholic and drank even before flying. He left his wife for four months, but they were reunited. However, they separated soon afterwards. Win was transferred to China and Wallis joined him. However, the couple finally divorced on December 27, 1927. By that time, Wallis was already involved with Ernest Aldrich Simpson. He divorced his first wife and the two were married on July 21, 1928. Simpson was a British-American shipping magnate. At various parties at their lavish flat, Wallis met Edward, Prince of Wales.

At the time of their meeting, Edward was involved with Thelma, Lady Furness. However, Wallis and Edward were smitten with each other. They denied their affair at first, but by the end of 1934, Wallis was being introduced at Buckingham Palace to the Queen and then the King of England. They did not approve of her, mostly because of her marital history. Divorced people were generally excluded from court at the time. Edward was not to be swayed and he showered his beloved with ever increasing gifts. The court became worried that the affair would lead to the prince’s inability to perform his official duties. Wallis filed for a divorce from her second husband, citing his infidelity and it was filed on this day.

The court was in a dither, King George had died on January 20, 1936 and Edward VIII was now ruler. However, his increasing infatuation with the twice-divorced Wallis led to pressures from outside to demand he give up the woman or the throne. He abdicated on December 10, 1936. The couple traveled together and Wallis’s divorce was finalized in May 1937. On June 3, 1937 she and Edward married. Edward was made Duke of Windsor and his new wife was Duchess over protestations from the Royal Family. The couple lived happily together until Wallis was widowed in 1972. She lived until April 24 1986 and died at the age of 89 growing increasingly frail and reclusive after her husband’s demise.

A woman’s life can really be a succession of lives, each revolving around some emotionally compelling situation or challenge, and each marked off by some intense experience.

I have always had the courage for the new things that life sometimes offers.

Never explain, never complain.

I am so anxious for you not to abdicate and I think the fact that you do is going to put me in the wrong light to the entire world because they will say that I could have prevented it. – all from Wallis Simpson

Also on this day:

Fancy Dry Goods Store – In 1858, Macy opened his first NYC store.
Underground – In 1904, the first section of the New York City subway opened.
Paris Riots – In 2005, riots broke out in Paris.

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on October 27, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Love seems,to me, to be a bit of tradition in the “royal family”- Elizabeth and Philip are still very much in love after many years of marriage. My personal nicknames for them, when speaking with them on the phone, has been Lover Girl and Lover Boy. When I mentioned that on my half-hour of The Tonight Show I received a few thousand postcards and letters,from the UK with one word on it- “smack”, a reference to the nickname given to me by 100s of millions- Kissing Bobby. Thank you UK.

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