What You Didn’t Know About Wallis Simpson

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  What You Didn’t Know About Wallis Simpson

During the time of King Edward VIII’s abdication, Wallis Simpson was arguably the least popular person in England. As Simpson biographer Anne Sebba told NPR, she was “really loathed,” with graffiti at the time reading, “Down with the American harlot.” 

While Simpson was depicted in the press as a temptress who lured the country’s monarch to reluctantly renounce his throne, that portrayal was said to be both misogynous and one-dimensional — although Simpson didn’t exactly go out of her way to counteract her image. “She was a very sexually threatening, dominant, rather vulgar, and ambitious woman,” writer Tanya Gold told NPR. “And this is everything that the value system of the time despised.” 

In fact, the truth may have been somewhat murkier: The Duke of Windsor was thoroughly unsuited to be king, Gold explained, which exposed a glaring flaw in a constitutional monarchy in which sex and the order of birth — not ability — determines who will be monarch. 

“And so rather than accept that this is a weakness of the system, it threw up a man who was essentially a mistake, an anomaly, a man who couldn’t fulfill his duty,” Gold explained. “Far better to say that he was stolen away by this evil woman.”

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