Posts Tagged Wallis Simpson

Episode 94: Wallis Simpson, Part Two

Posted 10 September 2017 by
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When we left Wallis in 1936, her boyfriend just got a major promotion that would, more than likely, leave her in the rear view mirror of his life. She was cool with that, but he had a whole different vision: Wallis in the passenger seat.

While on a cruise of the Dalmatian coast they were photographed…a lot.

There were a few glitches to King Edward VIII’s (we call him “David” ) plan, for starters Wallis was already married and even if she were to divorce she would have TWO living ex husbands– a double no-no for remarriage within the Church of England and David was the HEAD of the Church of England. None of his family liked her…at all. And Wallis herself wasn’t entirely on-board with the idea.

But, David would have none of it and he was willing to do whatever he had to to make it reality.

The happy couple…?                           Vincent Laviosa  

And it did. Oh, not in a storybook, fairy tale sort of way and not the way either would have imagined but Wallis did get divorced and then the tornado of pressure and paparazzi left her fleeing to the south of France and him abdicating the throne.

King Edward VIII’s abdication papers

He quit! Walked away! Left England and his family and wandered about Europe. For legal reasons they could not see each other until her divorce was finalized and when it was they were married. The (really not prepared for the job) new King George VI, David’s brother, had granted the titles Duke and Duchess of Windsor (although Wallis’ came with a caveat that she was not to be recognized as “her royal highness”) but he forbid anyone from the royal family from attending the small wedding and reception in a beautiful chateau in France.

Chateau de Cande where they were married on June 3,1937                        Gilbert Bochnek

David seemed to think they were going to be allowed back into England and he would be given a job fitting his station in life after a couple of years, but, seriously? What part of “exile” don’t you understand, Duke? And his self-planned, unofficial but highly publicized trip to visit Nazi German as a sort of goodwill ambassador did him and Wallis no favors as far as public image went.

Treated like royalty by Hitler soon after their marriage.

WWII broke out and Wallis jumped into action with the French Red Cross helping the war effort. She worked very hard until the Nazis entered France and the two joined the caravan of refugees south, eventually ending in Spain. From there David was given a job to keep him as far away from Europe as possible: Governor of the Bahamas.

She did whine a bit, at first, but Wallis was a very active, involved Governor’s wife and took up causes, and often used her own money, that helped the women, children and the military of the islands.

The Duke and Duchess had to rehab the Government House to make it livable and a Bahamian showplace

Once the war ended any thought of them returning to live in England was quickly dashed–they had not been forgiven for his abdication and even the deaths of both King George and their mother or Queen Elizabeth II’s ascension didn’t change that. The two couch surfed (super, elite, society style) around the world and eventually settled into a house and chateau in France. Wallis decorated both, threw a lot of parties and was continued to be recognized as a style icon for many, many years. For their entire marriage she created an environment of royalty for the two of them, like their own kingdom of two (plus servants and dogs, lots of dogs.)

One may discuss the Windsors choice in political companions.

David died in Wallis’ arms of throat cancer in 1972. Wallis accompanied his body back for burial in England. The remaining 14 years of her life were spent mostly bedridden after a series of falls and the final years painful and lonely unable to move. She died on April 24, 1986 and was buried next to her husband at the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore.

TIME TRAVEL WITH THE HISTORY CHICKS

Books!

The one we both liked the best.

Wallis’ memoir

The Duke’s memoir

Their letters

This one covers their relationship with Nazis

 

Article Links!

We tend to focus on the woman and not on the details of war but if you would like some more backstory on the WWII issues we talked about in this episode here is a timeline of Nazi Germany, a timeline to war, and the plot that Winston Churchill concealed to put King Edward VIII back on the throne if Germany won the war.

The Chateau they called home once they accepted that they were never going back to England? Want to see inside? Here is a link to all the fabulousness The House of Windsor, Paris.

And her jewels? Here is a lovely collection of photos of them from Sotheby’s, Windsor Jewels and an up-close look at the Cartier cross charm bracelet, with the inscriptions on the back of each one, Jewels du Jour.

Here is some information from Vogue on those society scrapbooks that Beckett talked about.

Read up on religious diversity and national identity in James II toleration campaign (where the James quote came from.)

Here is a nice collection that shows off her eye for fashion and some of her more memorable outfits, and here is the reissued Schiaparelli Lobster dress.

Movies!

2005 with Joely Richardson, we both liked this one the best

Directed by Madonna, Andrea Riseborough’s Wallis was feisty

 

VIDEOS!

Later this would be recorded by Harry Belefonte and used in the movie WE, but here’s the original Edward VIII by Lord Caresser:

This interview was done a couple of years before the Duke’s death.

Totally baffling film by Karl Largerfeld:

 

Wallis’ funeral:

 

Episode 93: Wallis Simpson, Part One

Posted 22 August 2017 by
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Puppet? Manipulating social climber? Misunderstood? Deeply in love? However you see her, the fact remains that a king abdicated his throne, defied his family and lived in exile to marry twice divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson.

That sounds like a woman we should talk about.

Wallis, about age 40

Bessiewallis (not a typo) was born on June,19th, 1869 to Teakle Wallis and Alice Montegue Warfield. Contrary to the way she was portrayed later in her life, she came from two, long-established, southern-American society families who made money, a lot of it. Her father’s held on to it and took life very seriously, and her mother’s, well, they were “eccentric.”Both families objected to the marriage for, essentially, the same reason: Teakle was ill with tuberculosis and in no position to marry beautiful, charming Alice (and her family thought she could do better, anyway.)

Guess what happened? Teakle died before Bessiewallis’ first birthday and Alice was left penniless with a baby–the two would become financially dependent on Teakle’s veeeery proper mother and his unmarried, wealthy, live-with-Mom, meanie brother, Solomon.

Wallis and Alice, 1899

Alice and Wallis (she dropped the “Bessie” as quickly as possible) moved around the Baltimore area for all of her childhood. Wallis was bright, charming, very polite and had just enough mischief in her to make her quite interesting. Her Uncle Sol did pay for the right schools (have to keep the family name in the right places, you know, plus…control) and when Wallis emerged from high school, Oldfield’s, he (sort of) paid for her debutante season.

Wallis, 1919, a couple of years into her marriage to Win

What does a properly raised society girl do after all that? She’s going to Disney Wor…oh, well, close: Pensacola, Florida where she met and quickly married, handsome, sophisticated, military pilot Earl Winfield Spencer. But Win wasn’t the guy she thought he was. The marriage was horrible. He drank a lot and emotionally and physically abused her. As an officer’s wife she lived nicely in different places around the country, but after ten years (not all living together), Wallis was finally able to divorce him.

Wallis and Win, 1917

Instead of going home, Wallis spent a full year in China, a time she later called her “Lotus Year.” This time traveling alone created myth and intrigue later in her life, but it was a good transition from Military Wife to Divorcee Socialite. But Wallis wasn’t one to sit around and wait. She was a master at making social connections and soon was married again to an English-American, Ernest Aldrich Simpson.

The slow boat China Wallis took, USS Charmount

The couple lived in London where Ernest worked in the family business, a ship brokerage, and Wallis mastered London society. Her parties were marvelously different…SHE was marvelously different than what people had known. They climbed the social ladder fairly quickly (Wallis was very good at this) and, one day, found themselves in the upper tier: a weekend hunting party with Edward, Prince of Wales, the future King of England who also had a thing for married American women.

Dapper Prince

At first Wallis and Ernest ran with the princely crowd…then it was only Wallis running with them and, a few years later when his father died and Edward became king, Wallis was Edward’s American woman and he wanted to make her his queen.

The two enjoyed a kind of media bubble when they traveled, it was’t really reported on. Ski trip. 1935 Yeah, the You’re Not The Boss of Wallis in Wonderland, Earnest, ski trip.

The country loved the future king…but the Prime Minister didn’t think he was the Prince for the job, what with his sympathies for Nazis and all. Edward, it seems, was successfully courted by Adolf Hitler (not directly) and he gave every indication that he was on board with Hitler’s plan. Add to his lack of appeal as king: Wallis was divorced, would have to be divorced a second time…and an American? Oh, no, this wouldn’t do.

We give the basics about the Nazi involvement in this story, but this one is a very interesting read for more information and speculation.

But then this happened, King George V died and Wallis’ boyfriend was now King Edward VIII!

And the rest of the story will be told on part two….

Go check out Beckett’s amazing Pinterest board for Wallis Simpson, that’s where all the truly fabulous pictures are.

All media recommendations will be on part two.

Our flask recommendation is right here at our Zazzle shop..

Or you could get a t-shirt…or a tote bag…coffee cup…