Me and Mrs. Wallace Simpson
Now there isn’t a lot I can say about King Edward Eighth and the love of his life Mrs. Wallace Simpson. The problem being that almost no one knew what was going on. People in those days did not have the suspicious minds that we have today. A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse as the saying goes. The British press were obliged to keep their traps shut about the romance, whilst the foreign press had a field day. There was honour amongst the press barons then. Not that we should give them any applause. In late 1936 when the story just had to come out because the King chose abdication “for the woman I love,” the British papers had for several years systematically censored out all reference to the future king’s affair.
Truth it is said is the first casualty of war. So the British people of which I was one, albeit only a few months old, were kept in the dark. Everybody of course had an opinion after the event. This was particularly the case because King Edward was a lovable man. He was the Brad Pitt come Princess Diana of the day. He visited depressed areas, talked to the unemployed and promised something would be done. People loved him for that despite the fact that he could in fact do nothing. The only thing to alleviate unemployment and poverty at that time was to have another war. And that wasn’t too far around the corner. Edward was a weak, misled and gullible fool and clearly none of his lady friends up to that time had the ability to make him think he was the opposite. When Wallace Simpson came on the scene she had that peculiar drive and ambition of an American, to be able to persuade him, incorrectly as it turned out, to assert himself and make his own decisions. The British had centuries before decided to behead kings who made up their own minds. Parliament was in charge through the elected government and the lovers soon found this out to their cost. Nowadays nobody gives a toss and who is sleeping with who, that is quite is immaterial. The sin was that he was king and as such had to marry a suitable person, with the right pedigree. Wallace Simpson had had two previous husbands, the last of which had been a house guest of the future king a few years previous. To embark on a marriage with her would have been making a morganatic marriage which was not good for the monarchy and the belief that kings of Britain were defenders of the faith, chosen by God and many other things besides, which made the populace love and adore them. So he went and lived a life of idle loneliness with his lover and performed no useful function for the rest of his life.
One sidelight to this sorry affair was the decision to have the coronation for his brother Albert (Bertie) on the same day regardless of the crisis and furore that was taking place. Thus on the 12th May 1937, I received, being a one year old at that time, a silver spoon to commemorate the event. The new king took the name George presumably because Albert the name of his revered great grand-father (at least by Queen Victoria) was too sacred to be recycled. Luckily the spoon had the right king’s portrait on it together with the word ‘Farnham’ my birthplace, engraved in the spoon itself. For years this was a treasured possession of mine and I even added it to the family silver when Maureen and I were married. It has disappeared now of course. Three children all needing to have spoons to dig in the garden over a number of years meant that it is probably laying buried awaiting archaeological discovery centuries hence. But I doubt if it will tell of my relationship with Mrs. Simpson.