- Windsor, Wallis Warfield, duchess of
born June 19, 1896, Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., U.S.died April 24, 1986, Paris, FranceU.S. socialite who became the wife of Prince Edward, duke of Windsor (Edward VIII), after the latter had abdicated the British throne in order to marry her.She had earlier married Earl Spencer in 1916. After their divorce (1927), she married Ernest Simpson (1928) and moved with him to London. As a member of fashionable British society, she met Edward, prince of Wales, and the two gradually fell in love. She filed for divorce in 1936 with the intention of marrying Edward (by then King Edward), but as a woman twice divorced, she was unacceptable as a prospective British queen. Edward renounced the throne, and after she received her divorce they were married in 1937. The two thereafter lived a well-publicized international social life, residing mainly in France.
* * *▪ American socialitenée Bessie Wallis Warfield , also called (1916–27) Wallis Warfield Spencer or (1928–37) Wallis Warfield Simpsonborn June 19, 1896, Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., U.S.died April 24, 1986, Paris, FranceAmerican socialite who became the wife of Prince Edward, duke of Windsor ( Edward VIII), after the latter had abdicated the British throne in order to marry her.Wallis Warfield was born into an old established American family and attended the Oldfields School in Cockeysville, Maryland. She married Earl W. Spencer, a navy pilot, in 1916 (divorced 1927). After living for a time in Warrenton, Virginia, she traveled to England, where she met Ernest A. Simpson, a U.S.-born British subject. They were married in 1928 and lived near London. Wallis Simpson met Edward, then the prince of Wales, while moving in fashionable British society. The two became friends and gradually fell in love. Wallis sued for divorce from her second husband in July 1936, with the apparent intention of marrying Edward (who had become King Edward VIII), but as a woman twice divorced she was socially and politically unacceptable as a prospective British queen.Edward renounced the British throne on December 10, 1936 (confirmed by the Declaration of Abdication Act the following day), in order to marry Simpson. In referring to the reason for his abdication, he said in a famous radio broadcast: “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.” Immediately after his abdication, upon which he was named the duke of Windsor by his brother, now George VI, Edward left England to live on the European continent. Wallis Simpson's divorce became final in May 1937, and she had her name changed legally to Mrs. Wallis Warfield. Mrs. Warfield and the duke of Windsor were married in France on June 3, 1937. They lived in France and traveled frequently until World War II broke out. In July 1940 King George VI named his brother governor of the Bahama Islands, where the duke and duchess remained through most of World War II. The duke resigned his post in early 1945, and the couple moved back to France.The duke and duchess of Windsor were among the most prominent, exclusive, and newsworthy members of the “international set” of socialites and celebrities. For decades their lives consisted largely of traveling, entertaining, and being entertained. In 1956 the duchess of Windsor published her autobiography, The Heart Has Its Reasons. The duke of Windsor died in Paris on May 28, 1972, and the duchess continued to live at her Paris home in declining health and increasing isolation. At her death in 1986, according to her husband's request, she was buried beside him in the royal cemetery at Frogmore, England, near Windsor Castle.
* * *