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Baltimore Insider

An American marries a royal, and there’s consternation in the monarchy: Before Meghan Markle, there was Baltimore’s Wallis Simpson

During Sunday night’s primetime interview between Prince Harry, Meghan and Oprah Winfrey, aggressive tabloid coverage of the duchess took center stage.

After the couple announced their decision to step back from royal life last year, British tabloids were quick to cast Meghan as the instigator, dubbing the split “Megxit.”

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Sunday, the prince addressed those rumors head-on. While it’s unlikely he would have stepped away from his duties as a senior member of the family without Meghan, Harry said she “saved” him from the pressures of royal life. Megan also said the pressures caused her to contemplate suicide, and that racism played a roll in their decision to step back as senior members of the royal family.

At times, the situation has drawn comparison to a different royal controversy — though one that had nothing to do with race: the love affair-turned marriage between Baltimore’s very own Wallis Warfield Simpson and King Edward VII, which prompted him to abdicate the throne.

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Simpson, born Bessie Wallis Warfield, became the alluring woman of King Edward VIII’s affection after the two first met in 1931, when the American socialite was still married to Ernest Simpson, an American-born British citizen who lived in London, and Edward was still Prince of Wales.

In 1936, Simpson divorced from her husband, and news of Edward’s forbidden love affair with a twice-divorced American woman quickly spread, causing a stir and disapproval among British aristocracy. Simpson fled to France, but Edward couldn’t be away from her.

In December 1936, Edward abdicated his throne amid pressure, stating, "I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility ... without the help and support of the woman I love."

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The two went on to cause even more controversy. The couple wed in 1937 in a villa owned by Charles Bedaux, who later worked actively for Nazi Germany, and Edward, who became the Duke of Windsor, and Simpson, the Duchess, visited Adolf Hitler later that year.

The couple remained together until Edward’s death in 1972. Simpson died 14 years later and was buried next to her husband in the Royal Burial Ground near Windsor Castle.

Baltimore Sun reporters Christine Condon, Mary Carole McCauley and Lillian Reed contributed to this article.

For the record

A previous version of this article wrongly stated the year in which Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII met. It was in 1931. The Sun regrets the error.


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