The American double divorcee whose love affair with the Prince of Wales caused him to abdicate shortly after his accession so that he could marry her. They were known thereafter as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. But the Royal Family otherwise snubbed them and she was specifically denied the title HRH.

She was born Wallis Warfield in 1896, in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Teakle Warfield, and moved in high society. Her first marriage was to Earl Spencer in 1916 - an American, not an earl -, and her second to Ernest Simpson in 1928. She was still Mrs Simpson when in 1931 she met the Prince of Wales (Edward, though his friends called him David). Their affair probably started in 1934 and was well known outside Britain but not inside.

In January 1936 King George V died and his son became Edward VIII. He insisted on the right to marry Mrs Simpson, and was advised that it was impossible because of his position as head of the Church of England. He abdicated in December for 'the woman I love', who had received her second divorce in October.

They went into exile in France, where they married in June 1937 and largely remained for the rest of their lives, the Duke dying in 1972 and the Duchess in 1986. They are buried together in England. After her death her jewellery fetched £31 million at auction, which was given to the Pasteur Institute.

In January 2003 secret files were released (held back until after the death of the Queen Mother) showing that while she was involved with the Prince of Wales, Mrs Simpson was also having an affair with Guy Trundle (1899-1958), a handsome and raffish car dealer. The Special Branch tracked her and him but, for whatever reasons, did not inform the Prince, or even the King as soon he became. This is striking, since if the government simply wanted to prevent the King's marrying her, they could have told him of her infidelity. It has been suggested that they were quite happy to get rid of the dangerous pro-German Edward VIII and see his harmless brother installed.

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