Last Wednesday afternoon, London time, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their decision to step back from their roles as senior members of the British Royal Family.
They intend to become “financially independent” and to split their time between England and North America.
The ‘bombshell’ announcement sparked hysteria among the tabloids and was made even more dramatic by the Queen’s statement: “These are complicated issues”.
Now, Meghan Markle is being compared to another American who previously caused a royal spectacle.
Indeed, Wallis Simpson. Or, “that woman” as she became known.
This is the story of Prince Harry’s great-great-uncle King Edward VIII and his forbidden love, Wallis Simpson – a scandal that changed the reign of the monarchy thereafter.
Wallis Simpson was an American socialite and divorcee. She was married to her second husband, Ernest Simpson, when she met King Edward VIII in 1931, who was at the time the Prince of Wales.
Overtime, Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson developed a courtship and by 1934, Wallis was considered the Prince's mistress.
Wallis was still married to her second husband at the time and her relationship with the Prince was kept mostly out of the public eye.
After his father's death, the Prince of Wales became King Edward VIII in January 1936.
Rumours spread that Wallis was scheming to be Queen, but she had in fact offered to remain Edward’s mistress. Edward, however, was determined to marry the American woman. As King, he was free to marry anyone - except a Roman Catholic.
Edward was enormously popular with ordinary people, and when news broke of his love for Wallis, there was widespread public support for him to remain 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 Wallis – including whispers that she was selling British secrets to Germany. She was painted in a shrewd light.
Less than a year after stepping into the role of head of state, Edward VIII chose to give up the throne.
He decided he would live in exile, to be with the woman he loved, Wallis Simpson.