On the evening of December 11, he gave a radio address in which he explained, "I have found it impossible to carry on the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge the duties of king, as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love." The Bill of Abdication
Edward VIII abdicatesAfter ruling for less than one year, He becomes the first English monarch to voluntarily abdicate the throne. He chose to abdicate after the British government, public, and the Church of England condemned his decision to marry the American divorcée Wallis Warfield Simpson.
Wallis and Edward with best man Edward "Fruity" Metcalfe at their royal wedding, June 3, 1937, at the Chateau de Candé, Mont, France
'Tragedy': The Daily Mail announces Edward's decision to renounce the throne
In January of 1936, Edward was crowned the British Monarch upon the death of King George V. He, however, had no interest in being king. Edward’s focus was solely on marrying Wallis Simpson– the rags-to-riches American commoner who had somehow seduced the now King of England. Many wondered aloud, what could he possibly see in her? Give up the throne for–what? Apparently it wasn’t the sex. She’s credited with icily stating, “No man is allowed to touch me below the Mason-Dixon line.”
There were also ugly and persistent rumors challenging her own physical endowments as a lady. Shady, unsubstantiated stories surfaced that Wallis Simpson was born a man, and suffered from Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome– a hormonal irregularity that causes a genetic male’s body to develop as a woman, but without fully developed, err, privates. Just the kind of story any gal would love to be the subject of. And then there were the stories of her affairs, Nazi sympathizing, and shopping.
Many influential members the English upper class suspected that while Wallis Simpson was carrying on an affair with Prince Edward, that she also cavorting with other men– the most damning being a Nazi Officer close to Hitler, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Reich Minister Ambassador-Plenipotentiary at Large. It was reported that the Nazi’s were using Simpson for her connection to The King, and she was happy to provide them with all the British insider information they wanted, as long as she was paid. The FBI investigated the matter, and reported to President Roosevelt with their findings. He was quoted as saying that Wallis Simpson “played around…with the Ribbentrop set.”
After marrying Edward in 1937, the two met The Fuhrer, Adolph Hitler– whispered sweet pro-German sentiments, and were becoming full-blown Nazi sympathizers. It’s now well known that if all had gone as planned, the Nazis would defeat Great Britain– and Hitler had every intention of then restoring Edward to the throne. All that was enough to make the British take immediate action. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor with Adolf Hitler
The couple was quickly rounded-up, and shipped off where they could do no harm. He became the Governor of the Bahamas, and together they were appointed the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The Duchess hated it there, and spent a good amount of time power shopping in New York– much to the shock of the British who were tightening their belts under imposed wartime rationing. Getting the picture that there was no love lost between her and the British?
1941, Nassau, Bahamas – Governor of the Bahama Islands, the Duke of Windsor, dressed in a dapper plaid suit and two-tone wing tip shoes, smiling up at the Duchess of Windsor, as he sits at her feet ; and playing a card game in their homein the Government House. — Photograph by David E. Scherman for LIFE
Jolly plain': Critics described Wallis, pictured with Edward, as 'not even pretty'
The Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson together in France in 1937
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor (AKA Wallis Simpson)– arguably one of the most controversial, talked about couples of the 20th century. Their affair started while she was still married to her 2nd husband Ernest Simpson– a wealthy Englishman, through whom she gained access to British high society. The two were introduced at a London social event, and soon she was a frequent guest at Prince Edward’s country getaway, Fort Belvedere.
1940, Lisbon, Portugal — The Duke & Duchess of Windsor, aka Wallis Simpson.
France, 1955 — The Duke of Windsor’s garden and summer home in the South of France. — Photograph by Frank Scherschel for LIFE
*____ Caption for image on previous slide ____* Wallis Simpson photographed by Cecil Beaton. “Beaton later attempted to soften her brittle image in a series of photographs taken at the Chateau de Candé during the eve of the subdued and even makeshift arrangements for her wedding to the Duke of Windsor, who had romantically given up his throne for her. Beaton was not entirely successful. Dressed in Schiaparelli’s organza evening dress printed with a giant lobster, and brandishing a sheaf of pussy willow, or stroking a whippet that was clearly not her own, Wallis makes an unlikely romantic heroine. “Since I can’t be pretty,” she told Vogue in 1943, “I try to look sophisticated,” and no detail of that sophisticated style escaped the magazine’s scrutiny as Vogue celebrated her fashion and style choices into the 1960s.” — Hamish Bowles
Paris, France, 1939 — A view showing the exterior of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s new home. – Photograph by William Vandivert for LIFE
A glamorous social set of fashion designers, Nazi sympathizers, American heiresses, British ex-pats, and assorted other idle rich people welcomed the Windsors and became a sort of parallel court for the displaced royals.
This French upper-crust group was dubbed ”the Windsor Set.” The press buzzed about them like bees around a hive.
All their comings and goings, designer clothes, fancy homes, and elegant soirees were endlessly photographed and reported in the society columns of the day.
At the center of this new social whirl was the Duchess of Windsor. She had never got over being snubbed by the British Royal Family and being barred from getting the attention she felt she and the Duke deserved.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor are pictured at their villa in Biarritz, France, 1951
U.S. President Richard Nixon and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in 1970
You can't abdicate andeat it Duchess of Windsor
An earlier set of love letters exchanged by Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson are laid out prior to their auction by Christie's a few years ago.
On 28 May 1972, the Duke died at his home in Paris, less than a month before his 78th birthday. His body was returned to Britain, lying in state at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. The funeral service was held in the chapel on 5 June in the presence of the Queen, the Royal Family, and the Duchess of Windsor, and the coffin was buried in the Royal Burial Ground behind the Royal Mausoleum of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Frogmore.
The Duchess stayed at Buckingham Palace during her visit. No love lost: The Queen Mother and Wallis Simpson at the Duke’s funeral
Wallis, Duchess of Windsor Wallis, Duchess of Windsor (born Bessie Wallis Warfield, later Spencer, then Simpson; 19 June 1896– 24 April 1986) was an American socialite who married, as her third husband, Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII of the British Empire.
Wallis was named Woman of the Year by Time magazine in 1936. It was the first time the magazine had a Woman rather than a Man of the Year.
Wallis had always been obsessed with her appearance.
She knew she wasn’t a great beauty, having once said, ” Nobody ever called me beautiful, or even pretty.”
Somehow she thought that the Establishment could be overcome once [Edward] was king, and she confessed frankly to Aunt Bessie about her "insatiable ambitions" ... Trapped by his flight from responsibility into exactly the role she had sought, suddenly she warned him, in a letter, "You and I can only create disaster together" ...
Duchess of Windsor’s Exquisite Jewelry Collection
…she predicted to society hostess Sybil Colefax, "two people will suffer" because of "the workings of a system" ... Denied dignity, and without anything useful to do, the new Duke of Windsor and his Duchess would be international society's most notorious parasites for a generation, while they thoroughly bored each other ...
She had thought of him as emotionally a Peter Pan, and of herself an Alice in Wonderland. The book they had written together, however, was a Paradise Lost. The Duchess herself is reported to have summed up her life in a sentence: "You have no idea how hard it is to live out a great romance."
The Duchess, increasingly frail and suffering from dementia, lived the remainder of her life as a recluse, supported by both her husband's estate and an allowance from the Queen. In 1980, the Duchess lost the power of speech. Toward the end, she was bedridden and did not receive any visitors, apart from her doctor and nurses.
The Duchess of Windsor died on 24 April 1986 at her home in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris. Her funeral was held at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. She was buried next to Edward in the Royal Burial Ground near Windsor Castle, as "Wallis, Duchess of Windsor".