Is it possible that Wallis Simpson has been unfairly judged by history?
THE breezy American divorcee was kind, giving, and quite possibly exploited as an escape route by a reluctant King, says this best-selling author. FORGET the ambitious schemer, says this best-selling author.
Wallis Simpson has always piqued my interest. I used to love looking through my grandmother’s Coronation book from 1937, the year Edward VIII was supposed to be crowned but wasn’t. The play’s villain was a vicious American social climber who had kidnapped England’s King. That was common knowledge.
I didn’t doubt her version of events; why would I? In the images, she looked the part, caressing a lapdog like arch baddie Ernst Blofeld in the James Bond flicks while wearing a massive emerald ring.
Fast forward to a few years ago, when I was working on my first novel, The Governess, which was inspired by the true story of royal nanny Marion Crawford, the young Scotswoman who served as the Queen and Princess Margaret’s governess.
Wallis Simpson appears in a scene with Marion in the script I devised.
She was only supposed to be there for a few lines, but she ended up taking over the entire chapter.
I read everything I could about my subject, as I did with all of my historical works. And the more I looked into Wallis’s reputation as a callous gold-digger plotting to become Queen of England, the less evidence there seemed to be for it.
Many of her contemporaries — Diana Cooper and, to name a few — remarked on how great a hostess she was and how beautiful her gatherings were.
However, they also claim that she was pleasant to bores, that she identified individuals who were lonely and drew them in. The Prince of Wales was initially drawn to her because of her generosity and lack of sycophancy.
There was and still is a lot of speculation about what he saw in her at the time. She was pretty and elegant, but not particularly attractive. Unsavory rumors about her sexual prowess proliferated.
The plain reality appears to be that they simply clicked. Edward, who was used to being smothered from morning to night, found her easygoing American manners pleasant. She also backed him up in his efforts to modernize. He told her, “Wallis, you’re the only person who’s ever been interested in my job.”
They had other, more sinister ideas. “Brinkwire News in Condensed Form.”