I do have sympathy for the deadly Duchess of Windsor admits her new biographer
It may have been labelled the romance of the 20th century, the King who gave up his throne for the twice divorced American socialite from Baltimore he loved.
But it really wasn’t like that at all. They were “ordinary people” who lost their way and paid the price for scandalising the nation with their infidelity.
So proclaimed Anne Sebba, the first female biographer of the Duchess of Windsor, who spent four years researching her new biography, simply called That Woman, when she appeared at Marlborough town hall yesterday (Sunday).
Taking part in the second Marlborough literary festival, Anne (pictured) read out some of the secret letters she discovered suggesting that Wallis Simpson was still in her love with her second husband, Ernest.
Despite him marrying a woman who was once her best friend, Wallis expected one day to return to him, as her previously unpublished letters suggested.
Nevertheless, she was forever vilified and never forgiven for seducing Edward VIII and causing an unprecedented constitutional crisis, ensnared in a trap of her own making.
“Wallis was a very hard person to like,” Anne told the audience in answer to a question as to whether she ended up having some sympathy for the woman who died, aged 90, in 1986.
“She obviously manipulated people, she was obviously forceful. We are all complicated beings and I don’t think it’s right to see her as just pure evil.
“Avenging her mother, trying to get away from this insecurity and poverty that surrounded her, she thought she would be dumped, she really thought that’s what King’s do. They get rid of their mistresses after a couple of years.”
“She thought that she and Ernest, whom I am sure were in it together, could go back to their life as before but with a leg up in society and a few jewels to sell or memories to treasure.”
And Anne added: “So I don’t condone it. I don’t attempt to defend her or whitewash her, but I can understand that she is a flawed personality.”
“And it’s so sad actually. I rather feel far from being judgmental, I do think one can have a bit of compassion because it was such a foolish way to behave. I think she paid for it with 36 years being married to Edward.”
“So do I have sympathy for her? Well yes is the answer. That is not to condone what she did and the way she behaved but sympathy for the situation yes.”