Duchess of Windsor (Bessie Wallis Warfield)
BiographyBlue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania, USA
Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson Windsor was born in 1896 to a distinguished family. In 1916 she married Lt. Earl Winfield ("Win") Spencer, a pilot for the U.S. Navy. After World War I, Win began to drink heavily and became abusive. Wallis left Win and eventually divorced him in December 1927. Just six months later, Wallis married Ernest Simpson, who worked in the shipping business. The couple settled in London and attended social parties. At Lady Furness's house in 1931, she met Prince Edward and became a part of his circle of friends. In August 1934, Wallis and the Prince began an affair. Read more... On January 20, 1936, King George V, Edward's father, passed away, and Prince Edward became King Edward VIII. Edward's grief over his father's death was magnified by his acquisition of the throne, along with the responsibilities and eminence he deplored. He was often late or canceled appointments and events at the last minute. His infatuation with Wallis grew extreme, and he was severely distracted from his State duties. The relationship came to an impasse when the king was warned that the press would not remain silent much longer, and that the government might resign en masse if the liaison continued. Declaring it impossible to carry out his duties "without the help and support of the woman I love," Edward became the only monarch in British history to voluntarily abdicate the throne on December 10, 1936. His brother Albert became King George VI, and bestowed upon Edward the family name of Windsor. Wallis divorced Ernest Simpson, and she and Edward married in a small ceremony on June 3, 1937, becoming known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The romance plunged Britain into a constitutional crisis and made Wallis "the most-talked-about, written-about, headlined and interest-compelling person in the world," according to TIME, which named her its first Woman of the Year for 1936. Wallis Simpson remains an emotional figure in history, and many descriptions of her are extremely negative. But the couple remained loyal to each other despite being shunned by the royal family. They lived the remainder of their lives in France and the Bahamas. After Edward passed away in 1972, Wallis' remaining years were spent in bed, secluded from the world. She passed away on April 24, 1986, two months shy of her 90th birthday.