Duchess of Windsor

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Today mark the Anniversary of the Death of the Duchess of Windsor, who died on this day in 1986! Born Bessie Wallis Warfield, the daughter of Teackle Wallis Warfield and Alice Montague, she grew up in Baltimore, Maryland after her father died shortly after her birth. Her first marriage, to U.S. naval officer Win Spencer,  ended in divorce in 1927, and she was married to Anglo-American shipping executive Ernest Simpson when she met the then Prince of Wales in 1931, who she divorced in 1936 in preparation to marry the now King Edward VIII, which was opposed by the Governments of Britain and the dominions, as well as his family and the Church of England, of which he was Head. In December 1936, just eleven months into his Reign, King Edward VIII abdicated because he found it impossible to to do his duty “as I would have wished without the love and support of the woman I love.” Wallis married the new Duke of Windsor in France in 1937, and the couple were prevented from returning to Britain, apart from a few short trips, until their deaths. While she was now known as the Duchess of Windsor, she was not allowed to share her husband’s style of “Royal Highness”, another source of bitter contention. Due to his alleged Nazi sympathies, the Duke was appointed Governor of the Bahamas during the Second World War, and afterwards lived a very social life in France. In 1972, just 10 days after a visit from the Queen during her State Visit to France, the Duke of Windsor passed away. The Duchess became increasingly frail and eventually succumbed to dementia, living the final years of her life as a recluse, supported by her husband’s estate and an allowance from the Queen, while her French lawyer, Suzanne Blum, assumed power of attorney, and was accused of exploiting her. The Duchess died in 1986 and was buried with the Duke in the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore.


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