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Never explain, never complain

It was a moment that shook the nation, when in 1936, the uncrowned King Edward VIII proclaimed his love for twice-divorced American socialite Mrs Wallis Simpson and announced his abdication from the British throne.

Attitudes have relaxed somewhat in the years since, but in the 1930s it was deemed inconceivable that the King could marry her and rule the country.

“I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love,” he said.

The two spent the rest of their lives as Duke and Duchess of Windsor in awkward exile. George VI had no choice but to do his duty and be crowned king in his older brother’s place.

Wallis was undeniably a style icon. But while some viewed her as a gold digger, others accused her of apparent friendliness towards Hitler and the Nazis.

After the Duke died in 1972, Wallis lived a reclusive life in the Paris home they’d shared. Over the years, she had built up an incredible collection of jewels, including a famous onyx and diamond panther bracelet by Cartier, which sold for a record £4.5million when it came up for auction in 2010.

Her funeral, attended by members of the Royal Family, was held at St George’s Chapel Windsor and she was buried alongside King Edward.
It’s been suggested she had never anticipated that their love affair would result in a marriage that rocked the nation.

“You have no idea how hard it is,” she’s said to have told a friend in later life, “to live out a great romance.”