Wallis, Duchess of Windsor

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Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, (19 June 1896 – 24 April 1986)[1] formerly Wallis Warfield Simpson, nee Bessie Wallis Warfield, was the wife of Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom. Wallis's marital status and reputation forced a constitutional crisis in Britain when the King decided to marry her; rather than split the government or the nation the King abdicated, the only British monarch to do so voluntarily.

Wallis Simpson had been married twice before: her first marriage, to Earl Spencer, was unhappy; he was an alcoholic, and the marriage ended in divorce. She then married Ernest Simpson, a half-English, half-American shipping executive. A scant three years later, Thelma, Lady Furness, a mistress of Edward VIII, introduced Wallis Simpson to the king. By all accounts he became completely enamored of her, some contemporaries describing him as 'bewitched' and 'besotted'.

There are numerous accounts of the romance, and much speculation about the duchess. She was certainly a woman of great ambition. However, it is not clear whether her greatest accomplishment, marrying a former king, brought her lasting happiness. Wallis and Edward lived in relative comfort, but also in relative exile; Edward was not allowed to return to England to live and Wallis was denied the title Her Royal Highness.

Following the death of the former king in 1972, the duchess's health and mental state declined. She became a recluse in her Paris home, and was bedridden by the time of her death in 1986.
  1. Census records give 1985 as the year of birth; other sources, including the BBC, give 1896