BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Before Meghan Markle accepted the hand of Prince Harry, there was another American who became a member of the Royal Family and she has Baltimore roots.
Wallis Simpson was born on June 19, 1896 in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania. Her father died when she was an infant and she and her mother were supported by their wealthy relatives in Baltimore.
According to The Baltimore Sun, she lived for a period of time at 212 E. Biddle Street.
She attended an elite private school for girls, Oldfields School. Her uncle paid the tuition.
Simpson was 34 when she met Edward, Duke of Windsor — the son of George V and the uncle of the current Queen Elizabeth. Simpson was also married at the time to her second husband, Ernest Aldrich Simpson, who she had been married to for three years.
When George V died and Edward was to be made the King, people believed Edward would marry Simpson — an American, who had two living ex-husbands. This led to the “abdication crisis” because this clashed with Edward’s role as the head of the Church of England.
On Dec. 10, 1936, Edward announced he would be abdicating the throne because, according to the Sun, he “found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King…without the help and support of the woman I love.”
Edward, who was now the Duke of Windsor, could marry the woman he loved, but she still wanted more.
Simpson wanted a title to match her husband’s and wanted to be addressed as “her royal highness.” But the new king, George VI, wouldn’t allow it and instead she was known as “her grace.”
Other things you may not have known about Simpson:
Time honored her as “Woman of the Year” in 1936 because she made a king abdicate his throne. According to Time, “In the single year 1936 she became the most-talked-about, written-about, headlined and interest-compelling person in the world. In these respects no woman in history has ever equaled Mrs. Simpson, for no press or radio existed to spread the world news they made.”
Sotherby’s auctioned a slice of their wedding cake on February 27, 1998. It was bought by a California couple for $29,900. According to the Guinness Book of World Records it’s the most expensive slice of wedding cake. The box had an inscription, ‘A piece of our wedding cake WE 3-V1-37.” Benjamin Yin said of the purchase, “It is almost unimaginable to have such an item exist. It is something totally surreal. It represents the epitome of a great romance.”
She loved pugs. The Duke and Duchess owned a pack of pugs, which you might see represented if you watch the Netflix show, The Crown.
Simpson died on April 24, 1986 in Paris. She lived in seclusion before her death and after the death of Edward in 1972.
You can watch the Royal Wedding with WJZ Saturday morning. Coverage begins at 4 a.m. and will be replayed at 8 p.m.
Sonia Dasgupta the Digital Manager at WJZ and obessesed with the Royals. You can folo along with her live tweets @SoniaDasgupta