Bessie Wallis Warfield was born in Baltimore on June 19, 1896. her life seemed to be scandalous from the start as she was born only seven months after her parents were married. This caused quite a stir in Baltimore high society where her father was a successful business man.
She stopped using her first name because she thought there were too many cows named Bessie. She was married the first time in 1916 to a sadistic alcoholic. She was divorced from him in 1927.
She wasn't single for long. She met and married a British-American man named Ernest Simpson. That is when she became known as Wallis Simpson, the name we remember her as. After the marriage, she became part of English society and met Edward, Prince of Wales, at a house party which was given by his mistress.
He was charming and the world's most eligible bachelor. She was 34 years old, married, and not considered beautiful but rather seductive. I think she was the original Charm City Girl!! By 1934 the prince was a regular guest in the Simpson home and is said to have told her aunt, "It requires tact to manage both men. I shall try to keep them both." But, soon the affair took its toll on the Simpson marriage.
Although Edward was known to have had many mistresses, he was obsessed with Wallis. He was even characterized as her "lapdog" by some. In 1936, Prince Edward became King Edward VIII. The king's affair with Mrs. Simpson was widely known and not approved of by the church and other governmental officials who warned the King that he could not be married to a twice divorced woman.
Although Wallis was often portrayed as a woman who wanted to marry the King, there was a paper written by her in which she states she is no longer interested in marrying him. She often felt his dependence upon her was a burden and made her feel claustrophobic. She wrote in a letter to her uncle,"How can a woman be a whole empire to a man?"
On December 11, 1936, the king abdicated his throne saying, " I could not discharge the duties of King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love." They were married on June 3, 1937 at Chateau de Cande in France, after Mrs. Simpson's divorce was final. The former king was then given the title Duke of Windsor although his wife, the Duchess, was not allowed the title of "Royal Highness".
The couple traveled through Europe extensively, apparently befriending Adolph Hitler. It was said to have been planned for Edward to be made a puppet king of the UK if Hitler had succeeded in winning World War II. When Churchill got wind of that plan, he wisely made Edward the governor of the Bahamas, to get him out of Europe.
In 1956 Wallis' autobiography, The Heart has its Reasons, was published. Her husband died in Paris on may 28, 1972. Wallis died on April 24, 1986 and she was laid to rest at the royal burial ground at Windsor, right beside her husband.