Friday, January 20, 2012


“I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility,

and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do,
without the help and support of the woman I love.”
–King Edward VIII, from his famous abdication speech of 1936.


June 1937, Chateau de Cande, France — Marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor — Image by © Bettmann/Corbis. Wallis Simpson, who would marry Edward and become the Duchess of Windsor was known as the ultimate fashion trendsetter– for her impeccable manner of dress, her extensive and precious jewelry collection, and her taste in interior design. He was known as the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Windsor, and the Master of Style. Men’s fashion owes him a giant debt of gratitude to this day. Widely considered one of the best dressed men in all of history, his personal style was impeccable, at times quirky, and always legendary. ”Did he have style?” Diana Vreeland once asked rhetorically. ”The Duke of Windsor had style in every buckle on his kilt, every check of his country suits.”

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor (AKA Wallis Simpson)– arguably one of the most controversial, talked about couples of the 20th century. Their affair started while she was still married to her 2nd husband Ernest Simpson– a wealthy Englishman, through whom she gained access to British high society. The two were introduced at a London social event, and soon she was a frequent guest at Prince Edward’s country getaway, Fort Belvedere.
In January of 1936, Edward was crowned the British Monarch upon the death of King George V. He, however, had no interest in being king. Edward’s focus was solely on marrying Wallis Simpson– the rags-to-riches American commoner who had somehow seduced the now King of England. Many wondered aloud, what could he possibly see in her? Give up the throne for– what? Apparently it wasn’t the sex. She’s credited with icily stating, “No man is allowed to touch me below the Mason-Dixon line.” There were also ugly and persistent rumors challenging her own physical endowments as a lady. Shady, unsubstantiated stories surfaced that Wallis Simpson was born a man, and suffered from Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome– a hormonal irregularity that causes a genetic male’s body to develop as a woman, but without fully developed, err, privates. Just the the kind of story any gal would love to be the subject of.
And then there were the stories of her affairs, Nazi sympathizing, and shopping.

                                          Madonna shooted a film for their love...
Many influential members the English upper class suspected that while Wallis Simpson was carrying on an affair with Prince Edward, that she she also cavorting with other men– the most damning being a Nazi Officer close to Hitler, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Reich Minister Ambassador-Plenipotentiary at Large. It was reported that the Nazi’s were using Simpson for her connection to The King, and she was happy to provide them with all the British insider information they wanted, as long as she was paid. The FBI investigated the matter, and reported to President Roosevelt with their findings. He was quoted as saying that Wallis Simpson “played around…with the Ribbentrop set.” After marrying Edward in 1937, the two met The Fuhrer, Adolph Hitler– whispered sweet pro-German sentiments, and were becoming full-blown Nazi sympathizers. It’s now well known that if all had gone as planned, the Nazis would defeat Great Britain– and Hitler had every intention of then restoring Edward to the throne. All that was enough to make the British take immediate action.
The couple was quickly rounded-up, and shipped off where they could do no harm. He became the Governor of the Bahamas, and together they were appointed the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The Duchess hated it there, and spent a good amount of time power shopping in New York– much to the shock of the British who were tightening their belts under imposed wartime rationing. Getting the picture that there was no love lost between her and the British?
1953 — Duke and Dutchess of Windsor with pet pug, Trooper.
1941, Nassau, Bahamas — The Duke Windsor, and his wife the Duchess, playing a card game in their home. — Photograph by David E. Scherman for LIFE
1940, Lisbon, Portugal – The Duke & Duchess of Windsor (aka Wallis Simpson) shown with their beloved dogs. — Photograph by Thomas D. Mcavoy for LIFE
1954 — Duke and Duchess of Windsor posing with their beloved dogs
1941, Nassau, Bahamas – Governor of the Bahama Islands, the Duke of Windsor, dressed in a dapper plaid suit and two-tone wing tip shoes, smiling up at the Duchess of Windsor, as he sits at her feet in the Government House. — Photograph by David E. Scherman for LIFE
Pugs Collar
Paris, France, September 15th, 1967 – The Duke of Windsor Playing Cards, Le Moulin De La Tuilerie — Photograph by Patrick Lichfield for American Vogue via

1941, Nassau, Bahamas – The Duke of Windsor has no license plate, only a royal crown emblem. – Photograph by David E. Scherman for LIFE
Paris, France, 1939 — A view showing the exterior of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s new home. – Photograph by William Vandivert for LIFE
1943 – The Governor of the Bahamas, Duke of Windsor, visiting with Bahamian farm laborers during WWII. — Photograph by Peter Stackpole for LIFE

Wallis Simpson photographed by Cecil Beaton. “Beaton later attempted to soften her brittle image in a series of photographs taken at the Chateau de Candé during the eve of the subdued and even makeshift arrangements for her wedding to the Duke of Windsor, who had romantically given up his throne for her. Beaton was not entirely successful. Dressed in Schiaparelli’s organza evening dress printed with a giant lobster, and brandishing a sheaf of pussy willow, or stroking a whippet that was clearly not her own, Wallis makes an unlikely romantic heroine. “Since I can’t be pretty,” she told Vogue in 1943, “I try to look sophisticated,” and no detail of that sophisticated style escaped the magazine’s scrutiny as Vogue celebrated her fashion and style choices into the 1960s.” — Hamish Bowles via