Fascinating Similarities Between Meghan Markle and Wallis Simpson: Two Americans Who Shook Up the Royal Family With Their Modernity
For fear of seeing his wife Meghan Markle go through what his mother, Princess Diana, went through years ago, Prince Harry abdicated from Royal Duties. But he wasn’t the first: 83 years ago, Kind Edward’s love for an also American divorced woman, led him to abandon the crown. But could this be the only coincidence between these two love stories?
Both women were highly educated
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Markle was the daughter of an African-American mother and a Caucasian father. Her career in acting started after graduating with a double major in theatre and international relations from Northwestern University and having a few odd jobs here and there.
She began landing some minor roles on a few shows such as “General Hospital”, “CSI NY” and movies like “Horrible Bosses”, but the role that really made her famous was the one of paralegal Rachel Zane on the show “Suits”.
Born in Pennsylvania in 1896, Wallis Simpson was born Bessie Wallis Warfield. When she was just a baby, her father died of tuberculosis, which led her mother to depend on the charity of her brother-in-law. Wallis’ uncle ended up paying for her education at Maryland’s most expensive girls’ school. She stood out for being top of her class.
Megan and Wallis both shared a love for fashion and style
Both women were known for their love of style and fashion. Before becoming a Royal, Meghan kept a website on style and fashion called TIG, which has meanwhile been shut down, since it didn’t fit her new royal image and duties. On the website, she shared interviews with influencers, tips on fashion and lifestyle, her travels and love for food.
Wallis, on her hand, was known for her sense of style and taste for couture. Even in her early years, while attending girls’ school, she already stood out for always being impeccably dressed all the time. Throughout her life, she used style to make sure she was well received in the social circles she frequented.
Frequently spotted in the first row of fashion shows in the mid 20th century, she was a loyal customer to Christian Dior and designer Main Rousseau Bocher, who ended up designing the wedding dress she wore when marrying Edward. Her style was definitely filled with sharp glamour.
Both American, both divorced
Meghan Markle married TV producer Trevor Engelson in Jamaica back in 2011. The relationship didn’t last that long though. Only 2 years later, the couple divorced, allegedly due to Markle’s instant fame after starring in “Suits” and the distance between the two.
Wallis was also not lucky in love on her first marriage. In 1916 she met and married her first husband, a Navy aviator called Earl Winfield Spencer Jr., who, unfortunately, had a strong addiction to alcohol. A few years later their marriage began to break down. In 1927, eleven years after getting married they divorced.
Only a year later Wallis had gotten remarried, this time to Ernest Aldrich Simpson, an English-American shipping executive. They moved to London where they lived a life of wealth. This was also the time Wallis met the then Prince of Wales, Edward, at an event.
Friends got them together
In 2016, Markle and Harry - who at the time was considered the most eligible bachelor in the world - met through a blind date organized by a mutual friend. Reportedly, the two were instantly smitten to each other. After two dates, the couple was traveling to Botswana for a romantic camping getaway. Talk about good matchmakers!
Wallis and Edward were not set on a date like the young royals, for obvious reasons, but they did meet at an event held at some friends’ house. But unlike Meghan and Markle, sparks didn’t fly on that first meeting. Edward wasn’t particularly impressed with Wallis on that occasion.
The night they met, Wallis wasn’t feeling her best, so she wasn’t too keen on developing a conversation. They did, however, get the chance to meet again and this time, Edward became absolutely smitten by Wallis’ independence and magnetism. Wallis, on her turn, was on cloud nine when she felt the center of the world’s most eligible bachelor’s attention.
Trying to go by unnoticed
Meghan and Markle did do their best to try and go unnoticed for a few months. It wasn’t until September 2017, when the two attended the Invictus Games together in Toronto that the world started talking about their relationship. It was the first time they were seen and photographed holding hands, smiling and laughing.
From then on, everybody had their eyes on Harry and Meghan. The couple looked particularly happy together and the media were on the lookout for any signs of royal bells. They didn’t have to wait too long: a few months later, in November 2017, Harry proposed to Meghan.
As for Wallis and Edward, after their first encounter, they started spending time together. Wallis would go on vacations with Edward, without her husband, and in a year, she was accompanying him on several royal events. His infatuation for her didn’t go unnoticed, and George V and Queen Mary weren’t exactly thrilled by it.
A wedding and a coronation
7 months after the engagement announcement, Meghan and Harry got married. The wedding took place in May 2018 and soon after, the newly entitled Duke and Duchess of Sussex were moving to their new home in Frogmore Cottage and embarking on their first royal tour together, where they shared the news that they were expecting their first baby.
This is where Meghan and Wallis’ stories go in different ways. While Meghan succeeded in seeing her royal dream wedding with her Prince charming come true, Wallis was for from seeing it happening the same way with Prince Edward. Hard times were coming.
On January 20, 1936, George V died, which meant Edward, the Prince of Wales, was called upon to take the throne. With Wallis Simpson by his side, who by then was already his mistress, Edward watched the proclamation of his own accession.
It was easy to see that Edward’s main concern, even bigger than actually being a King, was to marry Wallis. The problem was that, as a King, he could not marry a divorced woman with 2 living ex-husbands. Both the Church and the Government were against it, and the public wasn’t too keen on having an American as their Queen.
He did his best trying to negotiate a solution in which Wallis would not be given any royal title but it was refused. With no intention of being King without his beloved Wallis by his side, Edward announced Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin that he would abdicate. In December 1936 he was officially freed from his Royal duties.
And it all came tumbling down
To Meghan, adding to the pressure of suddenly being part of one of the world’s most ancient royal houses, came the responsibilities of being a new mother and the constant pressure by the media to accompany and scrutinize every step of the newlywed royal couple’s lives. All this was taking a toll on an already stressed out Meghan.
Harry was, on his turn, terribly worried about seeing Meghan go through the same experience his mother, Princess Diana, had gone through some decades earlier. Diana ended up dying in a car crash while being chased by paparazzi. This was Harry’s most traumatizing moment up to date and he feared to have to go through it again with his wife.
"Everything that she went through, and what happened to her, is incredibly important every single day, and that is not me being paranoid. Part of this job is putting on a brave face but, for me and my wife, there is a lot of stuff that hurts, especially when the majority of it is untrue," he said.
83 years before, Wallis had also gone through the pressure of being accused of manipulating Edward and bringing shame to the Royal family. The Queen Mother even went to the point of convincing herself that Wallis had been responsible for her husband’s death at 57 of lung cancer. The American was constantly the target of sexist slurs by everyone.
‘I became obsessed with the notion that... a calculated and organised effort to discredit and destroy me had been set afoot,’ said Wallis at the time.
According to the book “The Real Wallis Simpson” by Anna Pasternak, what the public didn’t know was that Wallis never wanted Edward to give up the throne for her. She begged him not to insist on marrying her, she was content on remaining her mistress. But Edward was obsessed and even threatened to kill himself if she didn’t marry him.
In early 2020, Harry and Meghan dropped a bombshell that not even the Royal family itself was expecting. They went to social media to announce that they had decided to step back as senior Royal members, a decision that had, apparently, not been previously discussed with either the Queen, Prince Charles or Prince William.
"We intend to step back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen,” they explained in their official statement. “We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth and our patronages.”
As for Edward and Wallis, on December 11, 1936, Edward announced through the radio to the British people that he could not be king without the woman he loved by his side. Five months later, Wallis’ divorce was finalized and in June, Edward and Wallis got married at the Château de Candeé, after finally finding a royal chaplain that would accept to perform the ceremony.
What happened to both couples after stepping down?
Shocked at Harry and Meghan’s sudden decision but understanding the reason behind their wish to stay away from public eyes, the Queen still made it clear that from that moment on, they would not be keeping their HRH titles. They would also have to repay taxpayers $3.1 million and stop receiving financial support from the Crown.
“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,” the Queen said on her statement. “As agreed in this new arrangement,” she added, “they understand that they are required to step back from royal duties, including official military appointments. They will no longer receive public funds for royal duties.
“With The Queen’s blessing, the Sussexes will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations. While they can no longer formally represent The Queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty,” the official statement read.
Harry and Meghan have recently been seen attending their last royal events before officially starting their civilian life together. They have been splitting their time between the UK and North America and will continue to support the causes they believe in, such as conservation, sport for social development, empowerment and education, among many others.
Edward and Wallis, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, as they became known for since the abdication, spent their remaining years living in France, with their back turned to the Royal family. In the 40s, when his brother, King George VI, got weaker from health problems, a plan was hatched to have Edward re-crowned, something he showed zero interest in.
He was allowed to attend his brother and mother’s funeral in 1952 and 1953, respectively, but from then on, he wasn’t invited to any royal ceremonies, which included his niece Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. Allegedly, Wallis spent the rest of her life regretting the moment Edward took her from the happy life she had been living in England’s capital.
There are definitely some similarities between the two royal love stories, but can one really say that Meghan and Wallis played the same part in their husbands’ abdication? Tell us all about it in the comment sections and don’t forget to share the article with other British Royal family fans out there!