Tanya Gold: Why Wallis Simpson should get her blue plaque

People hated her because she refused to conform to our grotesque 1930s society

Share
Related Topics

For more than 70 years, Wallis Simpson has been bullied by the sneering British establishment – and they aren't finished yet. The story of this interesting, complex woman has been told by her enemies. She was the ambitious American bitch-slut who stole our King and made him shake hands with Hitler. Thank God for wonderful Queen Elizabeth, the sainted Queen Mother, who scrubbed the stain of Wallis from our throne!

English Heritage, giver of blue plaques to People Who Matter, is the latest to bitch-slap her corpse. Last week, it denied a request by a member of the public to stick a plaque outside Wallis's 1930s London home. But Wallis matters. She drew to the surface many of the foul bigotries of the age: xenophobia, ageism, rampant snobbery and a desire for women to be submissive, uneducated, unthreatening little dolls.

The slut came from a poor family in Baltimore and was married off at a very young age to an abusive alcoholic. The conventions of her day would have had her stay and rot. But Wallis was harder than that. She divorced him and married adoring Ernest Simpson, who took her to London and pushed her up the social ladder. And then one night in 1931, at the age of 36 (the corpse! the corpse!), she was introduced to Edward, Prince of Wales. He was the original playboy: easily bored, trivial and obsessed with his wardrobe.

Edward fell in love with her, and it is not hard to see why. She was witty: "I look 100 and weigh 110," she said. "You can never be too rich or too thin." She wasn't a passive English gel, who liked shooting birds and riding horses. She bossed him around and made him put on her shoes, but she never wanted him to give up the throne. She warned him: "You and I can only create disaster together".

When it became clear that Edward wanted to marry Wallis more than he wanted to be Emperor of India, the British elite drew horns on her head. The charge sheet was long. She was a whore. She was a Nazi. She was a spy. She was a hermaphrodite. She was a sadist. She enslaved the Prince by dark sexual arts, which she learned while traveling in the Orient (the Orient – of course). She was a gold-digger. She was – in the Mitford sisters' revolting phrase – Non-U (common). She was (gasp!) American. She was divorced and, in the near-theocracy of the Church of England then, this was blasphemy. She was the Jezebel of Bryanston Square.

Against this Wicked Witch of the West, the English establishment presented its own glorious Glinda – Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. She was everything Wallace was not: submissive to her dull husband, sexually unthreatening, with veins of purest toff blood. Elizabeth was far more of a bitch than Wallis. She was an unsympathetic, anti-Semitic snob who fought to ensure that Wallis was excluded from British public life for her transgressions, even though it was Wallis who made her queen.

Elizabeth succeeded. Edward and Wallis fled into exile, and she was only allowed back into British society when she was old and broken. When she died, she was buried next to Edward at Windsor; her corpse was welcome in the royal mausoleum.

The exile broke them both. Having given up the throne, Edward spent the rest of his life mourning for it. After his death, Wallis became a recluse and spent her last years paralysed and unable to speak. She wrote her own epitaph: "You have no idea how hard it is to live out a great romance."

So why today does English Heritage continue this old, old vendetta? Its official reason is an affair that she allegedly had with Joachim von Ribbentrop, the German ambassador to Britain in the 1930s. However, there is no evidence that this actually happened. It is true – and unforgivable – that she visited Germany in 1937 and shook the Führer's hand. But she did not "make" her husband into the Nazi he became. It was his idea: he wanted to play the King and Nazi Germany was the only country that would have him. Wallis spent her life as a whipping girl for her husband's failures as king. Nobody could accept that Edward didn't want to rule us; it had to be witchcraft, didn't it?

After all this, hasn't she at least earned a blue plaque? Every second house in Hampstead has one, and so does the Tyburn Tree – the site of British hangings. Is Wallis less important than a tree? People hated Wallis because she refused to conform to the conventions of the grotesque society of 1930s Britain. Isn't it time – when our future King has married his own mistress, and had his own divorce – to stop tossing mud at the ghost of Mrs Simpson?

tanyagold2002@yahoo.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Bill Cosby speaks onstage at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund 25th Awards Gala on 11 November 2013 in Washington  

Bill Cosby: Isn’t it obvious why his accusers have stayed silent up until now?

Grace Dent
 

Our political landscape is not changing anywhere near as much as we assume it is

Steve Richards
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible