Wallis Simpson was born 1896 in Pennsylvania and moved to London 1931 when she married Ernest Aldrich Simpson, a shipping executive.

It was Lady Thelma Furness, the mistress of Prince Charles at the time. She formed a close friendship. 

Over the course of 1931, the Simpsons were gradually absorbed into Edward’s social life, spending frequent weekends with him at Fort Belvedere, his 18th-century home in the grounds of Windsor Great Park. 

The moment that marked the turning point in friendship was Jan 1934, when Thelma left for the United States. According to Wallis, Thelma said laughingly, ‘I’m afraid the Prince is going to be lonely. Wallis, won’t you look after him?’  

The Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson is pictured in 1927, four years before moving to London

Wallis Simpson, Duchess, is seen in 1927. This was four years prior to her move to London.

Wallis was attracted to him by gifts such as jewellery, money and clothes. 

At Edward’s insistence, Wallis, wearing a tiara borrowed from Cartier, was formally presented to his parents, King George V and Queen Mary. Although few words were exchanged during the meeting, it was not successful.

Outraged to have to receive ‘that woman in my own house’, the King gave orders that Mrs Simpson was not to be invited to any of the Silver Jubilee functions being planned for the following year, nor to the Royal Enclosure at Ascot.

As news of the affair spread, the Duchess of York — later Elizabeth, the Queen Mother — declared openly that she would no longer meet Mrs Simpson and would beat a hasty retreat whenever ‘that woman’ walked into the same party.

In 1936 Edward ascended the throne after the death of his father George V. He made clear his intentions to marry Wallis as soon as her second divorce came through.

The scandal caused widespread outrage and the Church of England ruled that he could not marry someone who had two deceased husbands.

Wallis moved to France as an exile, to escape the pressure. Edward abdicated December 1936 to allow them to marry and took the lower title of Duke.

The King abdicated, signing off his brief reign with a broadcast that referred to ‘the woman I love’. 

Simpson was subject to hatemail and abuse and was even accused of sympathizing with the Nazis. 

Edward and she went to Germany with Hitler in 1937. Edward wanted her to have the experience of royal tours, something Wallis was unable to afford. 

Edward became governor of The Bahamas from 1940 to 1945. The couple continued their life together, enjoying high society.

But she didn’t lose her love for Ernest Simpson. She was her second husband. Friends and confidantes of hers have told her that they never intended to divorce him. 

Wallis kept in touch with her husband by writing intimate letters. These letters have only recently been discovered and reveal Wallis’ deep regrets and fears about how her life turned out. 

Wallis, who died with the Duke of Edinburgh in 1972, became a recluse. Before her death at the age 89 in 1986, she was seldom seen in public.