Wallis Warfield was born in Pennsylvania, United States, on 19th June, 1896. Her father, Teakle Warfield was a successful businessman .
In 1916 Wallis met an married Winfield Spencer, a naval aviator. He was a sadistic alcoholic and in 1921 she left him but later agreed to join him in China. He soon resorted to his old ways and Wallis again left him and the couple were finally divorced in 1927.
Wallis then met the divorced businessman, Ernest Simpson. The couple married in 1928 and moved to London. They became friends with Lady Thelma Furness, a mistress of the Prince of Wales. On the 10th January, 1931, Furness invited them to her country house at Melton Mowbray where they met the Prince. In 1934 Wallis and the Prince of Wales began an affair.
George V died on 20th January, 1936. The former Prince of Wales now became now became Edward VIII. It was not long before the king's relationship with Wallis Simpson was being reported in the foreign press. The government instructed the British press not to refer to the relationship. The prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, urged the king to consider the constitutional problems of marrying a divorced woman.
Although the king received the political support from Winston Churchill and Lord Beaverbrook, he was aware that his decision to marry Wallis Simpson would be unpopular with the British public. The Archbishop of Canterbury also made it clear he was strongly opposed to the king's relationship.
The government was also aware that Wallis Simpson was in fact involved in other sexual relationships. This included a married car mechanic and salesman called Guy Trundle and Edward Fitzgerald, Duke of Leinster. More importantly, the Federal Bureau of Investigation believed that Wallis Simpson was having a relationship with Joachim von Ribbentrop, the German Ambassador to Britain, and that she was passing secret information obtained from the king to the Nazi government.
On 10th December, 1936, the king signed a document that stated he he had renounced "the throne for myself and my descendants." The following day he made a radio broadcast where he told the nation that he had abdicated because he found he could not "discharge the duties of king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love."
Edward moved to Austria and stayed with friends until Wallis Simpson obtained her divorce from her former husband. On 3rd June, 1937, the couple were married at the Château de Candé in France. The new king, his younger brother, George VI, granted him the title, the Duke of Windsor. However, under pressure from the British government, the king refused to extend to the new duchess of Windsor the rank of "royal highness".
Over the next two years the couple travelled extensively in Europe including visiting Nazi Germany where they met Adolf Hitler. When France was occupied by the German Army in 1940, Edward and his wife moved to Spain. In July 1940 the couple went to live in Portugal. Soon afterwards the Federal Bureau of Investigation received confirmation that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were being used by the Nazis to obtain secrets about the Allies. On 13th September 1940, an FBI officer sent a memo to J. Edgar Hoover that: "An agent has established conclusively that the Duchess of Windsor has recently been in touch with Joachim von Ribbentrop and was maintaining constant contact and communication with him. Because of their high official position, the duchess was obtaining a variety of information concerning the British and French official activities that she was passing on to the Germans."
The British government also discovered that Adolf Hitler planned to make Edward the puppet king of the United Kingdom if the Germans won the Second World War. When he heard the news, Winston Churchill, the British prime minister, arranged for the Duke of Windsor to leave Europe and become the governor of the Bahamas.
After the war the Duke and Duchess of Windsor lived in France. It was claimed that she remain promiscuous and had an affair with Jimmy Donahue, the grandson of the multimillionaire stores owner, F. W. Woolworth.
Wallis Simpson's autobiography, The Heart has its Reasons was published in 1956. After the Duke of Windsor, died in Paris on 28th May, 1972, Wallis continued to live in France. The Duchess of Windsor died on 24th April, 1986 and was buried alongside Edward in the royal burial ground at Windsor.
(1) Henry (Chips) Channon, diary entry (5th April, 1935)
A full, exhausting day. We had a luncheon party here, and the plot was to do a 'politesse' to Mrs Simpson. She is a jolly, plain, intelligent, quiet, unpretentious and unprepossessing little woman, but as I wrote to Paul of Yugoslavia today, she has already the air of a personage who walks into a room as though she almost expected to be curtsied to. At least, she wouldn't be too surprised. She has complete power over the Prince of Wales, who is trying to launch her socially.
(2) Henry (Chips) Channon, diary entry (14th May, 1935)
We had cocktails at Mrs Simpson's little flat in Bryanston Court; there I found Emerald Cunard, David Margesson, the Prince of Wales and one or two others. The Prince was charm itself. He is boisterous, wrinkled and gay, and he made a great point of being amiable to Honor (Channon). His voice is more American than ever. (It doesn't matter, since all the Royal Family except the Duke of Kent have German voices.) He wore a short, black coat and soft collar, checked socks and a tie. London Society is now divided between the old gang, who support , whom the Prince now ignores, and Emerald Cunard, who is rallying to the new regime.
(3) Walter Monckton wrote about the abdication in his unpublished memoirs.
Before October 1936 I had been on terms of close friendship with King Edward, and, though I had seldom met her save with the King, I had known Mrs Simpson for some considerable time and liked her well. I was well aware of the divorce proceedings which led to the decree nisi pronounced by Mr Justice Hawke at Ipswich in October. But I did not, before November 1936, think that marriage between the King and Mrs Simpson was contemplated. The King told me that he had often wished to tell me, but refrained for my own sake lest I should be embarrassed. It would have been difficult for me since I always and honestly assumed in my conversations with him that such an idea (which was suggested in other quarters) was out of the question. Mrs Simpson had told me in the summer that she did not want to miss her chance of being free now that she had the chance, and the King constantly said how much he resented the fact that Mrs Simpson's friendship with him brought so much publicity upon her and interfered with her prospects of securing her freedom. I was convinced that it was the King who was really the party anxious for the divorce, and I suspected that he felt some jealousy that there should be a husband in the background.
No one will ever really understand the story of the King's life during the crisis who does not appreciate two factors: The first, which is superficially acknowledged by many of those who were closely concerned in the events of these days, was the intensity and depth of the King's devotion to Mrs Simpson. To him she was the perfect woman. She insisted that he should be at his best and do his best at all times, and he regarded her as his inspiration. It is a great mistake to assume that he was merely in love with her in the ordinary physical sense of the term. There was an intellectual companionship, and there is no doubt that his lonely nature found in her a spiritual comradeship. Many find any assertion of a religious side to the problem impossible to contemplate, but it was there. The King had the strongest standards which he set himself of right and wrong. They were often irritatingly unconventional. One sometimes felt that the God in whom he believed was a God who dealt him trumps all the time and put no inhibition on his main desires.
(4) Henry (Chips) Channon, diary entry (10th June, 1935)
Much gossip about the Prince of Wales' alleged Nazi leanings; he is alleged to have been influenced by Emerald Cunard (who is rather eprise with Herr Ribbentrop) through Mrs Simpson. The Coopers are furious, being fanatically pro-French and anti-German. He has just made an extraordinary speech to the British Legion advocating friendship with Germany; it is only a gesture, but a gesture that may be taken seriously in Germany and elsewhere. If only the Chancelleries of Europe knew that his speech was the result of Emerald Cunard's intrigues, themselves inspired by Herr Ribbentrop's dimple!
(5) Clement Attlee, As It Happened (1954)
As a Privy Councillor I attended the meeting in St. James's Palace of the Accession Council. There was a characteristically British incident on that occasion. Notice was given to us suggesting - but only suggesting - that the Royal Dukes should sign the roll first. I thought that King Edward looked very nervous and ill-at-ease. I remember Baldwin expressing to me his anxiety for the future and his doubts as to whether the new King would stay the course. I had met him on several occasions, when he had been most charming, and I was struck by his genuine solicitude for the unemployed. I do not think that I saw him more than once or twice during his short reign. I was not a reader of the American Press nor was I much interested in society gossip, so that it was not until a late stage that I became aware of the position which had arisen with regard to Mrs. Simpson. Then I went to Baldwin and asked him for information. Later, as the crisis developed, he invited me to tell him what I thought would be the Labour attitude to the various proposals which were being made, in particular that of a morganatic marriage.
The talk was confidential, so that I could not consult the Party or even my intimate colleagues. I had to give him what, in my judgment, would be the reactions of the Party. I said that while Labour people had no objection at all to an American becoming Queen, I was certain that they would not approve of Mrs. Simpson for that position and would object to a morganatic marriage. I told him that it was important not to think that London was typical of the country as a whole, and that opinion in the Commonwealth was likely to coincide with that of the provinces rather than of the metropolis. I found that I had correctly gauged the Party attitude. Despite the sympathy felt for the King and the affection which his visits to the depressed areas had created, the Party - with the exception of a few of the intelligentsia who can be trusted to take the wrong view on any subject - were in agreement with the views I had expressed.
I suppose that few Prime Ministers had a more difficult task than that which faced Baldwin and, in my view, the country owed him a debt of gratitude for the way in which he handled it. In the country there was much criticism of the way of life which had obtained in the Royal circle, and this found expression during the discussions in the Civil List Committee, on which I served. The Labour members suggested that there was room for simplification at Court and for changes in accordance with modern conceptions. I explained the views of the Party in a debate on the Committee's Report. It happened that I was dining the next evening at Buckingham Palace. This might have been embarrassing, but I found not only that what I had said met with no resentment, but a complete understanding of the point of view expressed.
The whole business of the Abdication was very unfortunate and undoubtedly affected for the time the prestige of the Monarchy, but in the event it was fortunate, for it enabled King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to raise it to a greater height than ever before and gave the country, in the testing time to come, the leadership it needed.
(6) Henry (Chips) Channon, Mrs Simpson (1936)
Wallis Simpson I first met at Emerald Cunard's in 1935... Our acquaintance drifted into genuine friendship, and I grew to admire and like her... She is a woman of charm, sense, balance and great wit, with dignity and taste. She has always been an excellent influence on the King, who has loved her openly and honestly. I really consider that she would have been an excellent Queen. She is never embarrassed, ill at ease, and could in her engaging drawl charm anyone... Her reserve and discretion are famous, and proved by the fact that no one knew of her impending divorce, also by the fact that she never confided in anyone her hopes of becoming Queen. I think that the idea grew, gradually. She was encouraged by the King to believe that he could marry her, and indeed there was nothing legal to prevent him doing so. Perhaps at first the idea was a joke, which blossomed into a plan... Not until too late did she realise the gravity of the position and then even she could do nothing with the King.
Now she is 'de-throned', almost an outcast, and her social ambitions - always very great - have crashed. But she will recover everything except the Throne ... I hope she will be happy. She has always shown me friendship, understanding, and even affection, and I have known her do a hundred kindnesses and never a mean act. There is nothing sordid or vulgar in her make-up, but she is modern certainly. She has a terrific personality and her presence grew as her importance increased: we are far from being done with her yet . . . She would prefer to be grand, dignified and respectable, but if thwarted she will make the best of whatever position life gives her.
(7) Federal Bureau of Investigation Report on Wallis Simpson sent to President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1939)
It has been ascertained that for some time, the British government has known that the Duchess of Windsor was exceedingly pro-German in her sympathies and connections and there is strong reason to believe that this is the reason why she was considered so obnoxious to the British government that they refused to permit Edward to marry her and maintain the throne.
Both she and the Duke of Windsor have been repeatedly warned by representatives of the British government that in the interest of the morale of the British people, they should be exceedingly circumspect in their dealings with the representatives of the German government. The duke is in such state of intoxication most of the time that he is virtually non compos mentis. The duchess has repeatedly ignored these warnings.
(8) Federal Bureau of Investigation memo to J. Edgar Hoover (13th September, 1940)
An agent has established conclusively that the Duchess of Windsor has recently been in touch with Joachim von Ribbentrop and was maintaining constant contact and communication with him. Because of their high official position, the duchess was obtaining a variety of information concerning the British and French official activities that she was passing on to the Germans.
(9) The Guardian (29th June, 2002)
From their base in the Bahamas, the couple made frequent visits to the United States during the war. In April 1941, President Roosevelt ordered FBI agents to tail the Windsors discreetly when they visited Florida. But J Edgar Hoover was alarmed because bodyguards from another government department had been assigned to protect the couple. He warned that the bodyguards "would undoubtedly immediately detect the presence of any undercover agents, which might result in considerable embarrassment to all parties concerned".
Instead, the government arranged for the bodyguards to report back to the FBI on where the Windsors went and whom they met. An 18-page report was subsequently produced on the five-day trip.
On May 2, an FBI agent wrote to Hoover, saying that an English socialite had told an informant that he had definite proof that Herman Goering, Hitler's deputy, and the Duke of Windsor had reached a deal - "after Germany won the war, Goering, through control of the army, was going to overthrow Hitler and then he would install the duke as king of England."
The Duchess of Windsor is available from Amazon
Standards Site, BBC History, PBS Online, Open Directory Project, Virtual Library,
Education Forum, History GCSE, Design & Technology, Learn History, Music Teacher Resource,
Freepedia, Teach It, Science Active, Geography IST, Brighton Photographers, Sussex Photo History,
Compton History, Universal Teacher, English Teaching, English Online, History Learning Site,
History on the Net, Black History, Greenfield History, School History, HistoryWorld, I Love History,
E-HELP, Ed Podesta Blog, Macgregorish History, Historiasiglo20, Sintermeerten, ICT4LT
News and Search
Guardian Unlimited, Times Online, Daily Telegraph, The Independent, New York Times,
Washington Post, BBC, CNN, Yahoo News, New Scientist, Google News, Channel 4, ZDNet,
Google, Excite, Yahoo, MSN, Lycos, AOL Search, Hotbot, Metacrawler, Netscape, Ask, Search,
Go, Looksmart, Dogpile, Raging Search, All the Web, Kartoo, Search Engine Watch, About