Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wallis & Edward - 75th Anniversary of Edward VIII's Abdication

This sunday marks the 75th anniversary of Edward VIII's famous radio broadcast, where he told the nation that he was abdicating because he couldn't possibly fulfill his duties without the help of "the woman I love." That woman as we all know was Wallis Simpson, who became the Duchess of Windsor. The day before he had signed the instruments of abdication with his three brothers, the Duke of York, the Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Kent as witnesses. 75 years later we are still fascinated with what was billed as the love story of the century.  King gives up his throne for a twice-divorced American woman. Who would have thunk it? His great-grandmother Queen Victoria must have been rolling in her grave! The more I read about Wallis and Edward, the more sympathy actually I have for her.  I don't think she had any idea that Edward's feelings were going to run so deep for her that he would abdicate.  She truly believed that the affair would run its course and he would move on like he'd had before.  Instead of ending it when she had the chance, her own hubris got in the way, and Edward became more and more reliant on her.  If she'd had the chance, I think that she would have stayed married to Ernest Simpson.

To mark the anniversary, I thought I would share with you all some books and movies about Edward and Mrs. Simpson. First up is the new movie W.E. directed by none other than Madonna.  I saw a preview of this film when I went to see My Week with Marilyn, and I have to say that it looked rather interesting. The poster is rather intriguing as well. The film is in limited release right now, planning to go wide in early 2012.  I certainly plan on seeing it before the end of the year, and of course, I will share my thoughts with you all!

Two new biographies of Wallis Simpson were published this past year in the UK.  The first was by royal biographer Hugo Vickers.

I have not yet read this book although I plan on purchasing it when it comes out in paperback next year.  I did purchase Anne Sebba's book from, even though it's being published in the US in March of 2012. I just love the picture of Wallis on the cover. I'm in the middle of the book right now, and I'm quite enjoying it. I could have done without the speculation about whether or not Wallis was biologically a man or not.  Seriously can we put this theory to bed? There's no way to prove it, unless someone manages to get permission to dig The Duchess' body up to test her DNA.  Sebba doesn't reveal any real new information on Wallis, apart from quoting the letters that she wrote Ernest Simpson after the divorce, clearing indicating her strong feelings for her ex-husband, and her regret at how things turned out.

For something completely different, Laurie Graham has written a novel about the Windsors from the POV of a fictional friend of Wallis' from Baltimore entitled GONE WITH THE WINDSOR'S.  I haven't read this but I love the cover.  I did read Anne Edward's novel WALLIS, that was published I think in 1991 that was pretty decent.

Of course, the best miniseries, in my humble opinion, was Edward & Mrs. Simpson starring Edward Fox as Edward VIII and American actress Cynthia Harris as Wallis.  Of all the actresses that I have seen play the role, Cynthia Harris comes close to capturing the spirit of Wallis, not to mention that she looks uncannily like her. No one can better Edward Fox as the Prince of Wales/Edward VIII either.  If you haven't seen it, I suggest adding it to your Netflix queue.

This film was made several years ago starring Joely Richardson (daughter of Vanessa Redgrave) as Wallis and Stephen Campbell Moore as Edward.  I've only watched 1/2 hour of this, and I wasn't impressed. Richardson's accent is all over the place and Campbell Moore is way too young to be playing Edward (He was 41 when he abdicated), he barely looks like he's old enough to shave.

Tonight on the Royal Report, Marilyn from Marilyn's Royal Report will be discussing the abdication and what it meant for Britain as well as the implications.

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