Windsor, Wallis Warfield, duchess of

Windsor, Wallis Warfield, duchess of

Windsor, Wallis Warfield, duchess of (wĭnˈzər),1896–1986, American-born wife of Edward, duke of Windsor, who, as Edward VIII, abdicated the British throne in order to marry her. In 1916 she married a naval lieutenant, from whom she was divorced in 1927. The next year she married Ernest Aldrich Simpson, an American businessman residing in London, where she met Edward, who was then prince of Wales. The friendship between Mrs. Simpson and the prince continued after he succeeded to the throne in Jan., 1936. In Oct., 1936, Mrs. Simpson obtained a divorce decree nisi. Rumors of a projected marriage of Edward and Mrs. Simpson preceded the crisis of Dec., 1936, which resulted in Edward's abdication. On Apr. 27, 1937, the Simpson divorce became final, and Mrs. Simpson legally changed her name to Wallis Warfield. On June 3 she married Edward in France, where they made their home. By special letters patent it was provided that the duchess of Windsor should not share her husband's royal rank. Exiled, she and Edward remained in France and became prominent in international social circles. She was not officially invited back to Britain until 1967. She attended Edward's funeral in England in 1972 and was buried next to him at her death.


See her memoir, The Heart Has Its Reasons (1956); biography by A. Sebba (2012).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Windsor, Wallis Warfield, Duchess of (b. Bessie Wallis Warfield)

(1896–1986) socialite; born in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. Her father, a member of an old established family, died when she was an infant, and her early years were spent in genteel poverty. Bills for her Baltimore private schools, Arundell and Oldfields, were paid by a prosperous uncle. She became a popular member of a transatlantic social set. In 1930, while married to her second husband, British-born Ernest Simpson, she met Edward, Prince of Wales. Their relationship became an international cause célèbre and soon after his accession as Edward VIII in 1936, he abdicated in order to marry her. Shunned by most of the British royal family, the Windsors lived among the international social elite, mainly in France.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
Mentioned in ?