A brand new history documentary, Wallis Simpson: The Secret Letters, airing on Wednesday, 24 August, on Channel 4 reveals, for the first time, a newly-discovered and explosive set of 15 letters of love sent from Wallis Simpson to her second husband Ernest Simpson, shortly before and after King Edward’s abdication.
These extraordinary personal missives, written to Ernest at the very time she was divorcing him, rewrite both history and our perception of Wallis. They reveal she had come to realize that the man she really loved was the husband she was leaving.
And they chart her fear, desperation and loneliness as she found herself becoming trapped into marrying Edward, whom these letters show she privately derided – and her attempts to extricate herself from that marriage and escape the King’s clutches…
Also featured are newly-discovered letters from Ernest Simpson to his mother which show that his and Wallis’s divorce was an illegal collusion.
Sunday 25th October, 1936, Felixstowe, written two days before Wallis was due at Ipswich Assizes for the hearing to get her divorce from Ernest, the man she is writing to:
‘‘I really can’t concentrate on anything at the moment my dear. I have had so much trouble and complications with everyone also I am terrified of the court etc
“I feel small and licked by it all — I can’t think of what sort of mess I am leaving for – I am sorry for myself – I am sorry for the King – I hate stuffy British minds and last but not least – I don’t understand myself which is the cause of all the misery. Give me courage…
Love Wallis, I am so lonely”
30th November, 1936. Wallis is writing to Ernest, whom she has just been to court to divorce, saying she is planning to escape the King’s clutches:
“I shan’t be able to see you after all for which I am very sorry – but I have decided to go away some times this week – I cannot tell H.M. I am going because I know what would happen – so I am really simply telling him the old search for hats story…
“I shall stay safely away until after the coronation or perhaps for ever, one cannot tell. Please rest assured that the things in the house will all be returned to you.”
19th December, 1936, from a villa in the South of France where she was hiding after the Abdication, Wallis writes to Ernest, deriding the now ex-King as ‘Peter Pan’:
“Ernest. None of this mess and waking emptiness is of my own making – it is the new Peter Pan plan.
“I miss you and worry about you – oh dear, wasn’t life lovely, sweet and simple – Wallis”
Ernest and Wallis’ wedding photograph
16 February, 1937. Wallis writes of how much she is missing Ernest:
“Ernest dear –
“Life here is one colossal bore – I don’t go places and I think it more dignified to be quiet – one hopes to keep the name from the papers – but even doing nothing is no protection from their intentions. I wake up in the night some time and think I must be lying on that strange chaise longue and hear your foot-steps coming down the passage of the flat and there you are with the Evening Standard under your arm! I can’t believe that such a thing could have happened to two people who got along so well – at least it never should have been like it is now.
“Write me some times please and above all make your life again with – care. You are so good and sweet.
“My dearest love to you
30 October 1937, written, extraordinarily, while Wallis was on honeymoon with Edward
“What can I say when I am standing beside the grave of everything that was us …
“Only very dear dear Ernest I can only cry as I say farewell and press your hand very tightly & pray to God.
On 13 October 1938, a year after he remarried, Wallis writes to Ernest in the final letter in the series – ‘eanum’ means sad:
“Anyway I shan’t write about it again – it is painful and it is too late. Wherever you are you can be sure that never a day goes by without some hours thought of you and for you and again in my eanum prayers at night.’
With love – Wallis”
28th August, 1936, Ernest reveals how he, Wallis and Edward colluded in the divorce – which at that time was illegal and would have made their divorce invalid if the evidence had been discovered:
“It is a great pity as we were really so frightfully congenial, and never had an unhappy moment together until the mess started….’
“I am letting Wallis divorce me, of course and the case will probably be heard in October.
“Wallis is, of course, not asking for alimony. Please destroy this.”
1937, 20th January, Ernest writes to his mother saying he does not expect Wallis and Edward to have a happy marriage:
“I cannot see much happiness ahead for those two poor people who have made this mess. What will their life be?”
Wallis Simpson: The Secret Letters will air at 9pm on Wednesday 24 August.
It was written, produced and executive produced by Simon Berthon and made by Teledu Telesgop.
© Channel 4