The Royal family has come a long way. When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement, the official word from the Queen was that she was “delighted”.
That’s pretty good of her, considering that Markle is… gasp… DIVORCED.
By contrast, Prince Charles’s now-wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, had to put up some frosty treatment from the Queen and endure a long wait for a wedding. Perhaps that’s paved the way for Markle.
The men of the Royal family have a long tradition of falling for divorced women, and it hasn’t always ended well for them.
King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson
Eighty-one years ago, when King Edward VIII’s relationship with American divorcee Wallis Simpson went public, he felt compelled to abdicate the throne.
Edward was head-over-heels in love with Simpson. He had met her in 1931 when she was still with her second husband, Ernest. She had escaped an abusive first marriage, and was smart and funny and warm. Although rumours spread that she was scheming to be queen, she had in fact offered to remain Edward’s mistress, but he had been determined to marry her. As king, he was free to marry anyone he liked, except a Roman Catholic.
Edward was enormously popular with ordinary people, and when news broke of his love for Simpson, there was public support for him to stay king. But Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, the Church of England hierarchy and the right-wing newspapers were all against the idea. Rumours were spread about Simpson – including that she was selling British secrets to Germany. Within days, Edward announced his abdication, saying it had become impossible “to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love”.
Edward and Simpson were married the following year. The new king, George VI, forbade Edward’s siblings from attending the wedding. He wouldn’t allow Simpson to use the title of “her royal highness”, and wouldn’t give Edward any duties to carry out.