The Crown paints Edward and Wallis as a love story. In real life, it was far murkier.

Edward VIII chose to give up the throne of the British kingdom and live in exile to be the woman he loved, Wallis Simpson.

It certainly makes for an epic love story, and according to acclaimed Netflix series The Crown’s portrayal of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, that’s what it was.

But the real-life relationship of the former King and the woman he renounced his title for isn’t quite as romantic as the series would have us believe.

LISTEN: We debrief on the biggest moments from Season 2 of The Crown, on our pop culture podcast. (Post continues.)

A new biography written by royal expert Andrew Morton, paints an unflattering picture of the twice-divorced American and shines a harsh light on the couple’s relationship.

In Wallis In Love: The Untold Life of the Duchess of Windsor, The Woman Who Changed the Monarchy, Morton details how Wallis wiggled her way into the royal family before being brutally booted out.

The pair met in 1931 at a party, through a friend whose sister was dating the then-Prince at the time. (Wallis had been married to her second husband, Ernest Simpson for three years at that stage.) Rather than a serendipitous moment of fate, however, a letter from Wallis suggest it was part of a plan.

“Mission accomplished,” she wrote to her Aunt Bessie.

Over the next few years, she and the royal continued to see each other and in 1934 she even went on a holiday with him while her husband was away on business. By this time, the Prince’s girlfriend was out of the picture, and Ernest knew and accepted the affair his wife was having.

(Image via Netflix.)

Eventually, though, she left her husband and Edward, known to his friends and family as David, proposed marriage. This caused the constitutional crisis that forced him to abdicate the throne in December 1936 - less than a year after becoming King. On 3 June 1937 the pair married in France - where they would live most of their lives, forbidden to return to England.


However, according to Morton's research, Wallis was not as happy as you might expect someone to be when their partner has just given up everything for them. He suggests that being the Queen was all she really wanted, but when Edward abdicated she had no choice but to continue the marriage, lest she be the most hated woman in Britain and receives more threats than she already did.

Edward, on the other hand, was very much in love with his wife. The Crown hints at the one-sided nature of the relationship by frequently showing the Duke writing loving letters to Wallis, but not showing her writing any replies.

That might be because Wallis was in love with another man, a close friend of hers named Herman Rogers, Morton writes. It's believed Wallis didn't have an affair with Rogers, but she wanted to. Instead, she began a fling with Jessie Donohue in 1950 she was 54 and he 35. The affair lasted til 1954, when the former King put an end to it.

(But before we feel too sorry for Edward, let's not forget he was a Nazi-sympathiser who plotted with Hitler during Worl War II.)

The last few years of their marriage were, according to Morton, miserable. In 1971, Edward was diagnosed with throat cancer. In the final weeks of his life, his wife didn't visit him and instead, he died in the arms of a nurse named Julie on 28 May 1972.

Still, when Wallis died 14 years later in 1986, after suffering dementia, she was buried next to her husband at Frogmore Estate in Windsor.