Friday, January 27, 2012

Wallace Windsor's Secrets Revealed!

Wallis with her Prince Charming on their wedding day

There are two secrets Bessie Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson Windsor carried to her grave. The first is why she looked so unhappy in many of the photos taken of her with her husband Edward, Duke of Windsor and formerly King of England. And there were many taken of them together. In the happy candid snaps, romping with the dogs and/or each other, they look relaxed and adorable (dogs included). It's in the many formal, posed portraits that Wallis adopts a far away gaze and less than happy countenance. In the wedding pictures especially the poor woman looks as if she feels the noose tightening as the yoke slips in place. Why would she not be ecstatic that at last she will be with the man of her dreams who gave up the throne to be with her (not to mention the baubles that kept on coming)?
Not much happier years later
It is because, according to a new book, "That Woman" by Anne Sebba, Wallis never expected her affair to go so far and certainly never wanted Edward to abdicate. He convinced her that if she left him he could not go on. Believing that suicide of the king over a love affair would taint the royal family more than the alternative, she agreed to marry him. This information came to the author by way of heretofore unpublished letters between Wallis and her second husband, Ernest Simpson. They were on more than good terms throughout Ernest's cooked-up affair to end the marriage and allow Wallis her freedom to marry Edward (also making this her second divorce). Wallis confided her thoughts to Ernest all the while making sure he was doing okay. The letters were kept in the family and only recently revealed by Ernest's now-elderly son with his wife after Wallis. The whole thing is so intriguing I have pre-ordered the book from Amazon and am waiting breathlessly for delivery in February.
That book
The second secret is one I have deduced myself. What was this woman's power over men? She was never a beauty. She was thin, I'll say that, but most men do not go for thin over— shall we say?— developed. She wore clothes well because she had the sense to know what looked good on her and have it tailored to perfection. Rumors abound she had gained knowledge of an erotic nature "in the Orient". What she did have— and she had it in spades— was confidence in herself. Whatever her private miseries over the affair that toppled a king, she never showed anything other than composure. She held her head high; she looked the picture of grace; she oozed it.

If the letters and Anne Sebba's conclusions are correct, Wallis spent almost fifty years in a role she had not willingly chosen and did not relish. Wallis played her part well. She could not have done it without being confident she had the resolve and resources to pull it off.

What I don't know, of course, is exactly where Wallis got her confidence— from her widowed mother who encouraged her daughter to pursue society life with neither pedigree, funds or looks? Did she take from Edward's utter devotion the confidence to maintain hers? What I do know is any woman who exudes confidence inspires others to be confident in them. If you act brave, you will be brave. If you act gracious, you will be gracious. And if you act beautiful, you will be beautiful.

Okay, class, got the lesson?

Expect to see a lot more about Wallis as Madonna's movie, "WE", comes to the screen. Supposedly it has a modern twist and is not completely about the Love Story of the Century. It will certainly start the discussion rolling about what was Wallis' power. Now you know.


  1. I too wrote about Wallis Simpson in my blog: I received an impromptu gift of a jewelled salamander which reminded me of Wallis's love of animal brooches.

    Hope you can check it out.
    Cheers, Rose from England

    1. I have read your blog posting and also several entries in your blog. I also "joined" you as a "follower". Kind of like having a pen pal, isn't it?