Monday, February 21, 2011

The Prince and Mrs. Simpson

Last night I watched the new Masterpiece Theater that featured the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Simpson as part of the plot. I'm delighted to say that the writer made them quite nasty. Exactly the way I portray her! He used to be more affable, but I'm sure that being married to her,being bored and frustrated and stripped of his royal privileges would have brought out the worst in him. And that family was known for outbursts of temper. Even his likeable brother Bertie (King George VI) was prone to explosions of rage.

I was puzzled that she was played with a frightfully English accent when I believe the Baltimore came through however much she tried. And I was also pleased to see that the writer brought out their loathing of the new queen (who became our beloved Queen Mum). That was because the queen never compromised her standards. She made it clear that Mrs. Simpson, a twice divorced woman and one with no concept of royal protocol, was not a suitable choice for the Prince of Wales and would do harm to the monarchy.

Mrs. Simpson loathed her in return and refered to her as the Dowdy Duchess and "that awful Scottish woman". But it was the queen who won that battle. She never forgave Mrs. Simpson for causing the prince of wales to abdicate and thus put her fragile husband on the throne. He died young, partly because of the stress of being king through the war. (He also smoked like a chimney)
So his wife made sure that they never were allowed back into Britain. As we found out in the TV play last night, they were sent to the Bahamas for the war, so that the Germans couldn't easily kidnap him and put him on the throne as a puppet king. After the war they mooched around Paris, she shopping and getting her hair done, he following behind looking bored. Serve him right!

I have to confess that the murder incident was new to me. Now I have to check whether that was real or not. If it was, then I have a great plot element waiting for me if I can bring Georgie through to thw war years.

So I do take delight in my books in making Mrs. Simpson a bit of a bitch. And making Georgie's mother her equal in banter and venom. They are going to meet again on the Riviera this September in Naughty in Nice. Stay posted.


  1. Thank you, Carrie. Now I have to read up on that.

  2. Oh, nice post, Rhys! Not being English, I had always imagined the Wallis Simpson incident as being this great love story. Apparently not! I did know that the Queen never forgave her though. Love the history I learn from your posts and from the Georgie books.

  3. Different Carrie here. The first time I read about Mrs Simpson's marriage to the Prince of Wales, it was portrayed as a great love story overcoming stuffy British traditions. Of course, reality is so much more complex and fascinating. Was their marriage a happily ever after for two imperfect people who fell in love? Or was it a cautionary tale of getting your cake, eating it, then having to eat it everyday for the rest of your life? (Gosh, I hope that made sense!)

  4. Wasn't there a rumor that Mrs. Simpson was a hermaphrodite and that the Duke of Windsor was gay? I am dying for the next installment of the Royal Spy book so please, Rhys, hurry! Perhaps a competition for DArcy would be overdue.

  5. Was this "Any Human Heart"??? We will have to check it out. My husband and I watched all 7 hours of "Downton Abbey" last weekend and loved it! Masterpiece is truly a masterpiece...

  6. Yes, it was Any Human Heart--which to me is a strange title. It sounds more romance novel.
    I wasn't sure that I completely liked the story--he was too much victim for me, but the whole Duke of Windsor was fascinating

  7. Harry Oakes was definitely real, as was his murder. I live in Kirkland Lake, the small northern Ontario mining town where he made his fortune. Here's a link to the Museum of Northern History, which was once Harry Oakes' house. There are sections on his life and on the building.
    There is also an article about Harry Oakes life and death in Wikipedia which lists a number of books about him:
    Sorry I can't make the hyperlinks clickable, but I think they'll copy and paste alright.
    Liz (

  8. Responding to "anonymous" who asked if there were rumors that the Duchess was a hermaphrodite... yes - there were rumors, and they were just that: rumors. I recently published a book called The Royal W.E. Unique Glimpses of The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, which addresses that exact subject in one of the chapters. Wallis certainly had many flaws, and it's one thing for an author like Rhys Bowen to interpret her as bitchy in a work of fiction (which is entirely plausible), but it's hard for me to stomach the many far-fetched rumors that pass as historical fact, especially when they have absolutely no grain of truth.