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Wallis Simpson: The Secret Letters

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Review

It will probably come as no surprise to anyone to learn that Wallis Simpson was upset and frightened by the reaction to her relationship with Edward VIII. They were both despised by a British public scandalised by their affair and infuriated by their marriage plans. Wallis Simpson: the Secret Letters uses a cache of diaries and letters to claim that Wallis wanted out.

The evidence for this is her fond correspondence with her second husband, the decent-sounding Ernest. You could argue that of course she would feel unsure, particularly in
the face of such ferocious public opprobrium. Why wouldn’t she seek out someone who might have a few kind words of support?

But it’s still an incredible story, even after all these years. And, of course, neither Wallis nor Edward comes out of it well. He is pilloried for being dim and writing “sickening, infantile” letters to a woman described as a “gold-digger” with a “face like an old boot”.

Summary

Biographer Anne Sebba examines 15 letters by Wallis Simpson, the American socialite who was widely perceived to have lured Edward VIII away from the British throne. The documents were written around the time of the king's abdication in December 1936 and indicate she was in love with another man - information that could change Simpson's historical profile.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Anne Sebba
Executive Producer Simon Berthon

Documentary

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