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duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson

(b. 1896)

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B. 19 June 1896, da. of Teackle Wallis Warfield and Alice Montague; m. (1) Earl Winfield Spencer, 8 Nov. 1916; (2) Ernest Simpson, 2 July 1928; (3) Edward, duke of Windsor (formerly Edward VIII), 3 June 1937; no issue by any marriage; d. 24 Apr. 1986; bur. Windsor.

Born in Pennsylvania, USA, Wallis Warfield's first marriage to an aviator was dissolved in December 1927. She then married Ernest Simpson, a wealthy English businessman with an American mother. She met the prince of Wales in 1931, and by 1934 had moved aside Lady Furness to take over as his mistress. The nature of her appeal to him has been much debated. She was well groomed and confident, with a good figure, but her features were hard and her behaviour brash. There was certainly an element of domination in her attitude towards the prince, who became king in January 1936 and abdicated in December when the government refused to approve the marriage. After the war, during which she accompanied her husband to the Bahamas where he was governor, they settled in France. She was never accepted by the royal family, and, after the duke's death in 1972, led an increasingly lonely life in declining health. Her memoirs, The Heart Has its Reasons, were published in 1956.

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