Wallis Simpson’s secret letters that cast a shadow over her royal love story

The abdication of Edward VIII in 1936 sent shockwaves around the world. The royal was madly in love with Wallis Simpson and nothing would stop him from spending the rest of his life with her.

Wallis is remembered as the scarlet woman of British history and was universally despised, accused of taking the country’s beloved king from the throne.

Their love story is also remembered as one of the greatest of all time. But how great was it?

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Fifteen secret letters written by Wallis and recently discovered cast a huge shadow over their love story.

“I miss you and worry about you. Oh, my gosh, wasn’t life beautiful and sweet and simple,” she wrote.

But Wallis did not write these words to the king; she wrote to Ernest Simpson, the man she had married in 1928.

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When the British historian and author Anne Sebba researched her biography That womanshe was determined to discover new information.

“I knew there had to be another version of this well-known story that Wallis stole our handsome, charming prince. It just couldn’t be that simple. So I started with Ernest Simpson,” says Sebba.

During her research, Sebba befriended Ernest Simpson’s son, whose mother was Mary Kirk – Wallis’s best friend from high school who married Ernest after he and Wallis divorced.

Wallis Simpson, image from the Coronation Souvenir Book published in 1937.
Wallis Simpson was the reason Edward VIII abdicated. (Universal Images Group via Getty)

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Sebba was shown an address book with names of people Ernest had known in the 1930s, and when she returned to England, she began to investigate.

She had no luck until she reached the 19th name on her list. It was a woman who had been Ernest’s stepdaughter from his fourth marriage.

The woman showed the author 15 letters that she “thought” [Sebba] would like to see.”

Sebba couldn’t believe what she was reading and says the letters felt like dynamite in her hands.

One read: “I sometimes wake up at night and think I’m laying in that strange chaise lounge and you hear footsteps through the passage of the flight… and there you are. Evening Standard under your arm.”

Sebba couldn’t believe she was reading Wallis Simpson’s most intimate thoughts, written around the time of Edward’s abdication and addressed to Ernest, the man she divorced so she could marry the king.

“It was extraordinary to find these pristine letters meant for one man. I knew the second time she brought them out, no other people had seen these letters,” Sebba says.

“To me they were more valuable than diaries, because diaries are often written with someone else in mind, but these letters were written just for Ernest.”

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Wallis Simpson and Edward in the Bahamas, circa 1942
Wallis and Edward married in 1937. (Getty)

Another letter to Ernest read: “Ernest, dear. I won’t be able to see you anyway, for which I am very sorry, but I’ve decided to leave sometime this week. I can’t tell HM I’m going because I know what’s going on would happen.

“So I’m really telling him the old ‘search for hats’ story. I’ll stay safe until after the coronation. Or maybe forever. You can’t say that. Rest assured that the stuff in the house will all be returned to you. ”

When the public found out that Wallis was “the king’s mistress”, the news was splashed in every newspaper and the press was desperate for pictures of the couple. Wallis was sent to France, where she went into hiding.

“From the moment she pulled them out, I knew these letters hadn’t been seen by other people.”

That’s when Wallis wrote to Edward that he shouldn’t resign to marry her… and that she wanted to be with her ex-husband Ernest.

Her letter read: “I really have to return to Ernest for a lot of reasons… the first is that we are so incredibly likable and understand that we get along very well, which is really an art in marriage.”

But Edward couldn’t let Wallis go. On December 10, 1936, Edward broadcast his abdication speech and the couple were married on June 3, 1937.

But Wallis was not happily married, and two years after her marriage she wrote to Ernest: “Wherever you are, you can be sure that never a day goes by without you and for you being thought for a few hours and in again. my evening prayers at night.”

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Their marriage lasted until Edward’s death in 1972. (Getty)

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As for Edward, Sebba says his love for Wallis lasted. But Wallis lived her life with regret that she had given up everything for him.

“She never expected to marry him! She thought she would be rid of her long before it became a question of whether she would become queen. I don’t think she wanted to take the responsibility of being queen. I think she she thought this was a good time for her and she would go back to Ernest’s security,” Sebba says.

Wallis stayed with Edward until his death in 1972. You could say she fulfilled her duty to him in a way that Edward could not do for the Royal Family.

What many people don’t realize these days is that Edward was adored by the public; there was no other royal so adored until Princess Diana joined the royal family.

But by marrying Wallis, Edward paid a huge price and even his brothers didn’t show up to his wedding. He was cruelly shunned by the royal family in many ways for the rest of his life.

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