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Revealed: The American divorcee and the ‘pay off’ she asked for to leave a prince

Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII were married in June 1937 (Getty Images)
Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII were married in June 1937 (Getty Images)

An American divorcée sweeps one of Britain’s most eligible royal bachelors off his feet before they relinquish their duties and flee abroad to live happily ever after. Sound familiar?

While the Duke and Duchess of Sussex may first come to mind, this story follows the just-as-compelling royal saga some 88 years prior between Wallis Simpson and then-King Edward VIII.

Plunging the royal family into crisis, Edward abdicated the throne on December 11 1936 as it became apparent his relationship with the American socialite would never be accepted as a marriage.

The grand gesture highlighted his devotion to Ms Simpson, however their fledgling romance caused such stir in Whitehall that radical plans were briefly afoot to intervene.

Newly viewed Cabinet documents indicate that, at the height of the crisis, conversations over a cash settlement to get rid of Mrs Wallis were actually proposed by her lawyer.

King Edward VIII abdicated the throne on December 11 1936 as it became apparent his relationship with American socialite Wallis Simpson would never be accepted as a marriage (Getty Images)
King Edward VIII abdicated the throne on December 11 1936 as it became apparent his relationship with American socialite Wallis Simpson would never be accepted as a marriage (Getty Images)

If the deal in question went ahead, the royal family would look entirely different today with a different monarch sitting on the throne.

The new evidence comes in notes written by the government official and Downing Street advisor Horace Wilson. Prime minister Stanley Baldwin entrusted Wilson to record the information about the situation as the crisis unfolded in 1936.

According to his notes, Wallis received a curious visit on December 7 from Theodore Goddard, Wallis’s lawyer, who appeared to suggest the King’s partner would go away if paid the right amount.

Wilson’s notes read: “After some further talk, I discovered that what Mr Goddard was really saying, in effect, was what price could be paid to Mrs Simpson for clearing out.”

Their relationship was controversial and marked a crisis for the royal family (Getty Images)
Their relationship was controversial and marked a crisis for the royal family (Getty Images)

The document then details how the solicitor dropped the subject when the proposition did not receive a positive reception.

Just four days later, the King resigned from his position making him one of only two kings to not have a coronation for almost 1,000 years.

Edward met Ms Simpson in January 1931 when she moved to London and just over six months after his abdication, the pair finally married in France where the lived for the rest of their lives.

For religious, moral and political reasons, there was strong opposition to the marriage from the British government and within the monarchy itself.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

As Simpson would become Queen consort, the rumours that surrounded her left many feeling her behaviour was unsuitable for that of the throne

Simpson had been divorced once and was in the process of divorcing her second husband when Edward proposed in November 1936.

There were also religious implications. The Anglican church at the time, who as monarch King Edward was the head of, would not allow divorced people to remarry if their former spouse was still alive.

Since Simpson’s divorces were not on grounds of adultery - the only kind of divorce the Church of England would recognise - in the church’s eyes, she was not legally divorced.

The pair married in June 1937 (Getty Images)
The pair married in June 1937 (Getty Images)

Ultimately, King Edward chose his love for Simpson over the throne and his reign lasted just 326 days.

The day after he signed abdication papers, he famously made a radio announcement on the BBC, in which he explained to the British public that he would not have been able to fulfil his royal duties without “the woman I love”.

He was succeeded by his younger brother Albert, Queen Elizabeth II’s father, who became King George VI.

Royal experts have drawn parallels between the couple and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s situation in recent years.

Although not a King or next in line for the throne, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s resignation as a senior member of the royal family in 2020 sparked another crisis for the royals.

The pair now live in California with their two children, Archie and Lilibet.

Royal expert and author Tom Quinn told The Mirror that Prince Harry is still hopeful he could be given a minor role in the royal family four years after his exit.

Mr Quinn said: “Even Edward VIII, after the abdication, was given a few minor roles. And Harry will be aware of that.”

He added that the relationship between Edward and Mrs Simpson fizzled with time which is something that could happen to Harry and Meghan in the future.

He added: “There’s a real danger that Harry will feel lost – just as Edward VIII felt lost when things had cooled with Mrs Simpson”.