Little Bits of History

Wedding Bells

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 3, 2015
Wallis Simpson in 1936

Wallis Simpson in 1936

June 3, 1937: Bessie Wallis Warfield and Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David wed. Better known and Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII of England, the two married against the advice and wishes of the Royal family. Wallis was a twice divorced American socialite born in Pennsylvania in 1896. Her father died shortly after her birth and baby and mother were dependant on Wallis’s bachelor uncle, the wealthy S. Davies Warfield. When Wallis’s aunt was widowed, the two women went to live with her in Baltimore. Wallis was an exceptionally bright student. She was never considered to be a beauty, but she was engaging.

She first married in November 1916. Earl Winfield Spencer, Jr. was a US Navy aviator. He was an alcoholic and due to his work, the couple spent much time apart. They divorced in December 1927. By the time the marriage was finally dissolved, Wallis was already involved with Ernest Aldrich Simpson, a British-American shipping executive as well as former officer in the Coldstream Guards. He divorced his wife to marry Wallis in July 1928 in London. Wallis lost her personal wealth in the Wall Street Crash in 1929 but her husband’s business flourished and she was not left penniless. She met Thelma, Lady Furness, mistress of Edward, Prince of Wales and was introduced to the Prince on January 10, 1931.

Over the next few years, the two ran into each other at various soirees. Wallis was even presented at court. Her husband began to face financial difficulties since they were living beyond his means. By January 1934, while Lady Furness was away, Wallis became Edward’s mistress. By the end of the year, Edward was in love with the enchanting American. The then-Prince showered his love with gifts and travel. King George V died on January 20, 1936 and Edward rose to the throne, becoming King Edward VIII. Wallis was still married to her second husband and the country, or at least the aristocracy, was scandalized by the affair.

The monarch is the head of the Church of England and that such a post could be held by a man carrying on with a married woman was bad enough, but when Edward wished to marry Wallis, it was simply against the rules. Remarriage with divorced people with still living ex-spouses was forbidden (rule changed in 2002). While machinations for the wedding were moving forward, Wallis finally divorced her husband in May 1937 after filing in October 1936. The King abdicated in December 1936 and the country was spared the trauma of infighting amongst the aristocracy and royal family. The Duke of York took the throne as George VI. Finally free to marry, on this day, they were wed with Edward now the Duke of Windsor and Wallis becoming Duchess. They remained together until Edward’s death in 1972. Wallis lived to the age of 89, dying in 1986.

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

A woman can’t be too rich or too thin.

I never make a trip to the United States without visiting a supermarket. To me they are more fascinating than any fashion salon.

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. – all from Wallis Simpson

Also on this day: No Joy in Mudville – In 1888, Thayer’s poem was first published.
Whoops – In 1969, two ships collide during a sea exercise.
Ode to Billie Joe – In 1953, Billie Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.
ROTC – In 1916, the National Defense Act of 1916 was passed.
Midnight Ride of Not Paul Revere – In 1781, Jack Jouett, Jr. took to the saddle.

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