Edward and Wallis Meet
Prince Edward was a very good-looking man. He had blonde hair and blue eyes and a boyish look on his face that lasted his entire life. Yet, for some reason, Prince Edward preferred married women.
In 1918, Prince Edward met Mrs. Winifred ("Freda") Dudley Ward. Though they were about the same age (23), Freda had been married for five years when they met. For sixteen years, Freda was Prince Edward's mistress.
Edward also had a long time relationship with Viscountess Thelma Furness. On January 10, 1931, Lady Furness hosted a party at her country house, Burrough Court, where, in addition to Prince Edward, Mrs. Wallis Simpson and her husband Ernest Simpson were invited. It was at this party the two first met. Though Prince Edward was soon to be infatuated with Mrs. Simpson, she didn't make a big impression on Edward at their first meeting.
Four months later, they met again and seven months after that the Prince had dinner over at the Simpson's house (staying until 4 a.m.). And though Wallis was a frequent guest of Prince Edward's for the next two years, she was not yet the only woman in Edward's life.
In January 1934, Thelma Furness made a trip to the United States, entrusting Prince Edward to the care of Wallis in her absence. Upon Thelma's return, she found that she was no longer welcome in Prince Edward's life - even her phone calls were refused. Four months later, Mrs. Dudley Ward was similarly cut out of the prince's life.
Mrs. Wallis Simpson was then the prince's single mistress.
Who was Mrs. Wallis Simpson?
Mrs. Wallis Simpson has become an emotional figure in history. Along with this, many descriptions of her personality and motives for being with Edward have caused some extremely negative descriptions; the nicer onces range from witch to seductress. So who really was Mrs. Wallis Simpson?
Mrs. Wallis Simpson was born Wallis Warfield on June 19, 1896 in Maryland, United States. Though Wallis came from a distinguished family in the United States, in the United Kingdom being an American was not highly regarded. Unfortunately, Wallis's father died when she was only five months old and left no money, thus his widow was forced to live off the charity given to her by her late husband's brother.
As Wallis grew into a young woman, she was not necessarily considered pretty.5 Yet Wallis had a sense of style and pose that made her distinguished and attractive. She had radiant eyes, good complexion and fine, smooth black hair which she kept parted down the middle for most of her life.
On November 8, 1916 Wallis Warfield married Lieutenant Earl Winfield ("Win") Spencer, a pilot for the U.S. Navy. The marriage was reasonably good until the end of World War I when many ex-soldiers became bitter at the inconclusiveness of the war and the difficulty in adapting back to civilian life. After the Armistice, Win began to drink heavily and also became abusive. Wallis eventually left Win and lived six years by herself in Washington. Win and Wallis weren't yet divorced and when Win begged her to rejoin him, this time in China where he had been posted in 1922, she went. Things seemed to be working out until Win started drinking again. This time Wallis left him for good and sued for a divorce which was granted in December 1927.
In July 1928, only six months after her divorce, Wallis married Ernest Simpson, who worked in the family shipping business. After their marriage, they settled down in London. It was with her second husband that Wallis was invited to social parties and invited to Lady Furness's house where she first met Prince Edward.
Though many blame Mrs. Wallis Simpson for seducing the Prince, it seems rather more likely that she was herself seduced by the glamor and power of being close to the heir of Britain's throne. At first Wallis was just glad to have become included in the Prince's circle of friends. According to Wallis, it was in August 1934 that their relationship became more serious. During that month, the Prince took a cruise on Lord Moyne's yacht, the Rosaura. Though both Simpsons were invited, Ernest Simpson could not accompany his wife on the cruise because of a business trip to the United States. It was on this cruise, Wallis stated, that she and the Prince "crossed the line that marks the indefinable boundary between friendship and love."6
Prince Edward became increasingly infatuated with Wallis. But did Wallis love Edward? Again, many people have said that she did not and that she was a calculating woman who either wanted to be queen or who wanted money. It seems more probable that though she was not infatuated with Edward, she loved him.