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Unseen photos of Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII go up for auction

Born in 1896 in Pennsylvania, Wallis moved to London in 1931 after marrying her second husband, shipping executive Ernest Aldrich Simpson.

She struck up a friendship with Lady Thelma Furness who was the mistress of the then Prince of Wales. 

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 turning-point in the friendship came in January 1934, when Thelma sailed off for a visit to 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?’  

As the pair grew closer, he wooed Wallis with gifts of jewellery as well as money to buy clothes and other luxuries. 

At Edward’s insistence, Wallis, wearing a tiara borrowed from Cartier, was formally presented to his parents, King George V and Queen Mary. The meeting, at which few words were exchanged, was not a success.

Born in 1896 in Pennsylvania, Wallis moved to London in 1931 after marrying her second husband, shipping executive Ernest Aldrich Simpson

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.

It caused a national scandal and the Church of England decreed he couldn’t marry a divorcee with two living former husbands.

Wallis went to live in exile in France to escape the pressure, and in December 1936 Edward abdicated so they could marry, assuming the lesser title of Duke of Windsor.

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

When the Duke died in 1972, Wallis became something of a recluse and was rarely seen in public before her death in 1986, at the age of 89. She was buried alongside her husband at the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore House, Windsor

When the Duke died in 1972, Wallis became something of a recluse and was rarely seen in public before her death in 1986, at the age of 89. She was buried alongside her husband at the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore House, Windsor

Simpson received abusive and hostile hate mail and was accused of being a Nazi sympathiser. 

In 1937, she and Edward went to Germany to meet Hitler, before the atrocities of the Second World War, with her husband keen for her to experience the pomp and ceremony of a royal tour, denied to Wallis in England. 

Edward become governor of The Bahamas between 1940 and 1945, and the couple lived out the rest of their days enjoying the life of high society figures.

However, she never lost her affection for Ernest Simpson, her beloved second husband and her friends and confidantes have since said that she never wanted to divorce him. 

Significantly, she kept writing to him and these intimate letters, which have only come to light in recent years, reveal that Wallis was beset by fears and regrets over how her life had turned out. 

When the Duke died in 1972, Wallis became something of a recluse and was rarely seen in public before her death in 1986, at the age of 89. 

She was buried alongside her husband at the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore House. 

Frogmore Cottage, one of the properties in the grounds of the estate, is where Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle lived before they moved to California last year.


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