What do Meghan Markle and Wallis Simpson have in common? Both American women changed British royal history by marrying Prince Harry and King Edward VIII, causing rifts with William and King George
As head of the Church of England, it was deemed unacceptable that Edward marry Wallis.
So how similar are these two women who have shaped history and changed the narrative of British culture for decades to come? They may be generations apart, with Simpson passing away nearly four decades ago in 1986, but they’ve got plenty in common.
Here’s how Simpson and Markle’s lives run in tandem.
It’s widely held that both couples met through a mutual friend. Edward was introduced to Simpson at a weekend party hosted by Lady Furness in 1931. Simpson was there with her then husband, Ernest, per The History Press. Fast forward to Harry and Meghan and the lovebirds also met through a mutual friend.
Harry and Meghan were set up on a blind date by their mutual friend Misha Nonoo, reports Vanity Fair. Talking about their first meeting in a post-engagement interview with the BBC, Markle talked about how they had a few months of privacy in their relationship before going public.
Soon after news was leaked that Meghan was dating Harry, comparisons between herself and Simpson began. The entry point to the conversation was the fact that both women were previously married and American.
Markle was married to her film producer husband Trevor Engelson for two years. The couple dated for six years before getting engaged, reports Grazia. They married in 2011 in Jamaica. Her divorce was finalised in 2013 and she met Harry in 2016.
People reports Simpson was a convenient scapegoat who was vilified by the press for her relationship with Edward. By the time Wallis met Edward, she had been divorced from her first husband Earl Winfield Spencer and was married to her second husband Ernest Simpson. She got officially divorced from Ernest in 1936 and married Edward in 1937, reports The History Press.
Love for duty
A common theme surrounding Wallis and Meghan is that both men chose their wives and love over duty. Edward was the only British sovereign to voluntary decide to give up the crown. He announced on British radio in December 1936 that he could not be king without the support of “the woman I love”.
Edward was previously a popular member of the royal family. After his decision to abdicate, he was ousted from duties and lived a life in exile.
Before meeting Edward, Simpson was known in social circles, but that’s where her influence stopped. After her relationship with the incumbent king, she was named “Woman of the Year” by Time in 1936, recognising as the most talked and “interest-compelling person” in the world. Her name and image were instantly recognisable and she because a household name overnight.
Brothers at odds
Edward’s relationship with Simpson was said to cause such strife with his brother King George VI (then known as Prince Albert, Duke of York) that the relationship completely broke down. According to The History Press, after the abdication, King George stopped visiting his brother and the dereliction of duty was considered by many as the ultimate sin.
- Markle, a Suits actress, and Simpson, a late American socialite, both married British royals and caused controversies – so what else do they have in common?
- The two divorcees met their spouses, Prince Harry and then-King Edward VIII, through mutual friends – and the ensuing romances created family tensions and global infamy