Anne Sebba, author, lecturer and journalist, gave an illustrated lecture to the Arts Society Limpsfield on ‘That Woman or the Duchess of Style’.
There is a general view that Wallis was a grasping gold-digger but her parents came from well to do families. Her father died of TB when she was only 2 months old and her mother depended on Uncle Sol who paid for Wallis’s education. She had a pushy reputation at school and first married in 1916, aged 19. He was a drunk and violent and the marriage broke down in China, where Wallis developed a reputation for dating many men. Wallis visited an old school friend, where she was introduced to Ernest Simpson.
Wallis found Ernest kind and married him after her divorce. In London with Ernest, Wallis did much entertaining and met Prince Edward. Edward was with his second American mistress but was tiring of her. The mistress returned to America to see her sick mother and Edward became increasingly obsessed with Wallis. When Edward became King early in 1936, Wallis and Ernest expected that Edward would end it but his obsessive behaviour continued and he threatened suicide when Wallis tried to end their relationship in the middle of 1936. Edward arranged for Wallis’s divorce from Ernest, abdicated the throne and Edward and Wallis married in June 1937.