Wallis Simpson, the first American Duchess that rocked the British monarchy before Meghan Markle, is the subject of a new book.
When Meghan Markle was the Duchess of Sussex in May of last year, the world was reminded of another American divorcee for her that rocked the British monarchy more than 80 years ago, Wallis Simpson’s love for the Prince of Wales caused a constitutional crisis that led to King Edward VIII of abdication.
The british writer Anna Pasternak has recently “The Real Wallis Simpson,” which aims to debunk the rumors that have long plagued the Duchess of Windsor, even after her death in 1986 at the age of 89.
Pasternak told Fox News she started with the studies of Simpson’s controversial life after Netflix’s “The Crown” got it all wrong. They also tracked down Simpson’s last remaining circle of intimate friends who were determined to set the record straight.
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“I was watching ‘The Crown’ and I realized that the portrayal of Wallis Simpson is actually not correct,” said Pasternak. “I thought she would be the perfect person to rehabilitate and looked at in a different light. In ‘The Crown’ they take the common view that Wallis was this ambitious dusk which is a very tough woman and stole a beloved king of his throne. But it was wrong.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in New Zealand.
For decades, the twice divorced socialite was accused of entrapping Edward in a seductive web as part of her plan to become queen. Edward famously gave up his throne and declared he could not rule his country without the woman he loved at his side. Consequently, the couple was banished from England and they spent their days in exile.
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In fact, Pasternak claims in her book Edward was a philanderer who were afraid of commitment before he met Simpson in 1930.
“He did have affairs with married women,” said Pasternak. “So there was no chance of ever having to commit to them.”
However, when Edward met the Baltimore native, through her friend, Thelma Furness, who was involved in the royal at the time, he was ultimately captivated by her. Simpson himself said earlier in her memoirs that she believed that her Americanness and independence that drew him in.
“As I discovered through my research, they had a variety of qualities that really appealed to him,” said Pasternak. “She was not fawning across him in the way others. She was also the mother, and he had a very cold upbringing. She developed this understanding of each other. But he literally realized that he could not continue without her. She was elemental. And that degree of passion, I still find it not to contain it.”
The american socialite Wallis Simpson (nee Bessie Wallis Warfield) (1896 – 1986), a week before King Edward VIII away from the throne. She became the Duchess of Windsor in June 1937 after her marriage to Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor.
(Photo by Fayer/Getty Images)
At the time, Simpson was still married to her second husband Ernest Simpson, who was born in New York City to British parents. According to Pasternak, Simpson tried to end her relationship with Edward, who grew more and more obsessed by her. He is allegedly blackmailed his mistress and threatened to commit suicide if she left him.
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“She didn’t want to marry him,” claimed Pasternak. “She was happy with her second husband. And even though she is in an affair with the Prince of Wales, who she always assumed that in the end, he would go on to marry an eligible, suitable bride. No one could be more shocked than her when he announced that he wanted to marry her and that he was going to do, so no matter what. And I think the public perception is that they are, in a sense, encouraged.”
“People don’t understand that they really tried to stop this, they tried to get away from him,” said Pasternak. “But [Edward] put so much pressure on her…. He threatened suicide if she left him. He threatened that, no matter where they went in the world, he would have to follow her. He was almost confused when it came to his obsession or need with her.”
Wallis, Duchess of Windsor (1896-1986) and the Duke of Windsor (1894-1972) outside Government House in Nassau, the Bahamas, circa 1942. The Duke of Windsor Governor of the Bahamas from 1940 to 1945.
((Photo by Ivan Dmitri/Michael Dressing Archives/Getty Images)
Edward’s father, King George V, died in 1936 at the age of 70, the make of king Edward. But there was no way he could with the woman he loved, without a constitutional crisis. His choice was to either abdicate or call it quits with Simpson. He chose to give the throne that same year. According to Pasternak, the British government has tried to convince Edward to keep Simpson as a mistress, while he focuses on his role as king. He refused. Instead, the crown was passed to his brother George VI, the father of the future Queen Elizabeth II, Harry’s grandmother.
“He loved Wallis so much and wanted to honor her,” said Pasternak. “He thought that she was worthy of that status. He was determined to get her as his bride. … He did not see the damage he would do to Wallis until it was too late.”
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Pasternak said the same day Edward gave his abdication speech from Windsor Castle, Simpson fled, and gasping at the house of a friend in the South of France. Pasternak also alleged Simpson tried to stall her divorce from her second husband, but Edward “to put so much pressure on her.”
The marriage of the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson, June 3, 1937.
((Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)
“He was really behind this separation goes by,” she said. “As soon as the divorce went through, it was incredibly difficult for Wallis to turn the king down… She felt very vulnerable emotionally.”
They had also to do with the purification of the press and the public, who beat her for the sabotage of the monarchy. Pasternak insisted that in the course of the years, Simpson was abused by the history.
“She was the recipient of the most terrible attacks by means of letters,” said Pasternak. “She was seen as hard and calculating. It was really character assassination… [But] they never spoke. She had this incredible dignity. They had to contain all of this against a backlash that Meghan Markle know today. For example, when it comes to Meghan, people write horrible comments about her online. In the case of the Valais, they receive a literal hate mail and death threats. She would receive these letters in a tray with breakfast. They would say, ‘My world fell to pieces every morning on my breakfast tray.'”
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Mrs Simpson offers to ‘withdraw’, 8 December 1936. Article on the front page of the ‘Daily Express’ about the American socialite Wallis Simpson (1896-1986). Mrs. Simpson’s relationship with King Edward VIII (1894-1972), which eventually led to his resignation.
(Photo by Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images)
Simpson and Ernest separated in 1937. The same year she married Edward. Pasternak claimed she felt trapped in the marriage, but was determined to do her best by Edward, whom she grew to love. Still, Edward’s family banish him and his new bride from England.
“It never occurred to Edward or Wallis that if he abdicated the throne, he would never be allowed to live in England again,” said Pasternak. “But because of his popularity among the people, Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (the wife of King George), said that it could not happen. There was no room for two kings in England. They were afraid that he would overshadow his less popular, less charismatic brother.”
One of the misconceptions Pasternak wanted to address is that Simpson was allegedly a Nazi-sympathizer. She did go with Edward to Germany to meet Adolf Hitler in 1937, but it was reported that for various reasons. Simpson himself insisted that they are not pro-Nazi. Still, the royal family strongly disapproved of this trip.
“The top historians say that there is no evidence whatsoever, on any actual evidence, that Wallis was a Nazi sympathizer,” said Pasternak. “What I discovered was that the whole reason that Edward took Wallis to Germany and meet with Hitler was that he was so upset about his wife being shunned by the royal family, he wanted her to experience a royal tour. So when he was invited to Germany, he wanted Wallis to be addressed as ‘your royal highness,” and curtsied. It was an ill-conceived journey.”
Adolf Hitler meeting Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII.
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“However, we see that these photos today, to know what Hitler did,” says Pasternak. “In 1937… [Hitler] had not committed the atrocities that we are so shocked by today. Most of the aristocrats of the day were intrigued by what was going on in Germany at the time…. [Time] Edward was very angry to be banished from his own country.”
Simpson’s last remaining friends also insisted that they are not pro-Nazi. Instead, they described her as incredibly loyal to the people that they love and dedicated to her man in her life.
Edward died in 1972 at age 77. The couple had no children, and Simpson, only for her last year.
Simpson is buried next to her husband, once King Edward VIII, in the near of Course the Cottage, the residence of Markle and Harry, in the Royal Cemetery.
The Duchess of Windsor (1896 – 1986) watches the start of the rest of the Colour ceremony of a first-floor window of Buckingham Palace, 3 June 1972. A minute of silence was observed for the Duke of Windsor, who had died in Paris the week before.
(Photo by Wesley/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
“I don’t think they would have allowed that the idea of an entertaining regrets,” said Pasternak. “I think the real tragedy is that they are very pleased with it and the world still does not love her…. I don’t think they had regrets. She took the situation and the best of it. They had come to love him very much. Once she became the Duchess of Windsor, she knew that there was no room for regret.”