Stourbridge Historical Society

16/11/2017

The President Chris Glaze-Millis welcomed 71 members and 12 visitors to a presentation by Mary Bodfish on “Edward and Mrs. Simpson”.

Mary’s excellent presentation revisited the constitutional crisis which rocked the British Monarchy in 1936 and told the stories of Edward and Wallis Simpson, Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Edward (known as “David” by the immediate family) was born in 1894, his father King George V had a gruff and alarming manner and was a critical parent.  His mother, Queen Mary, did not show much affection or motherly love. His upbringing explained his character as being a difficult, shy, immature person who was stubborn and self-opinionated. He was bored with formal ceremonial occasions but was really interested in clothes, fashion and a social life.

Edward as the Prince of Wales served in WW1 in the Grenadier Guards but was kept away from the front for fear of the consequences of capture.

After a succession of affairs Thelma Furness became Edward’s mistress in 1930 and introduced him to Wallis and Ernest Simpson, Wallis being divorced and married a second time.

Wallis Simpson had an unsettled childhood was not a natural beauty but trim and petite with a vitality and ability to exploit masculine weakness to her advantage.  To Edward, Wallis was the perfect woman who took a great interest in his working life and in turn he bought her expensive jewellery. Their relationship however was viewed with alarm by the Royal Family and although widely known in social circles was not reported on by the press.

On the death of George V in 1936 it was clear that Edward’s proposal to marry Wallis, then undergoing a divorce from her second marriage was unacceptable to the establishment, the Archbishop of Canterbury being in an appalling difficulty in view of the Church’s teaching on marriage.

Edward abdicated in December 1936 having been uncrowned monarch for 325 days. His broadcast to the nation -  "I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility, and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love", coming as a great shock to the British people.

Edward and Wallis married in France the following June when her divorce became absolute.  No family were present. During the war Edward served as Governor of the Bahamas and eventually retired to France where he and Wallis lived until he died in 1972.  His funeral was held in St.George’s Chapel Windsor and was attended by the Queen and members of the Royal Family. Wallis lived in France until her death in 1986 at the age of 89, the sale of her jewellery realising some £31 million which was bequeathed to the Pasteur Medical Institute conducting research into a cure for AIDS.

The audience reflected, with a sense of thankfulness that because of the abdication, the Crown passed to the Duke of York as George VI and then on his death in 1952 to our present Queen Elizabeth who has reigned with dignity and dedication for the last 65 years.

The next meeting and AGM of the Society will be held on Thursday 14th December at 7.30 p.m. in the Wollaston Room Stourbridge Town Hall. The speaker will be John Sparry – “It Looks Dark Over Bill’s Mother’s”.

Founded 1946, by Geoffrey Beard