Part One: Young Upstart.
Paris, France, 1973.
The duchess was late, which was most unusual. For social events she was deliberately late, but definitely not for her business meetings. Her heightened sense of duty and purpose forbade being late – cold, combative, often amusing or sarcastic, sometimes aloof…but not late and she had a agreed to attend today’s meeting in order to help me.
Part Two: Politics.
The American Hospital Board of Governors.
The duchess was in a fine mood and ready to engage. “Do you mean to imply, mister Chairman, that you have actually had VD?”, she asked in a tone of both amusement and sarcasm, followed by her hearty laugh.
“Had it, Duchess?” he responded, “Good God, Madame, I was state distributor.”
The Duchess was neither unnerved nor amused by the inappropriate comment.
Part Three: The Duke and Duchess’ War Years, 1939-1944.
Edward and Wallis never fully understood that their involvement in any form in international affairs was over after Edward’s abdication. Quite to the contrary, they hoped to be of value and use to Britain. The British government felt quite differently and still had the couple under surveillance. The official hope was that the heretofore-influential prince, and briefly king, would disappear and leave the matters of state up to the appropriate authorities. Unfortunately, Edward had different ideas and was overly vocal – even indiscreet – about expressing them.
Part Four: The Windsors in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
In 1966, Edward had more surgery, this time on his eyes in London. The Queen made a conciliatory gesture of visiting her uncle in the hospital. Edward, probably just beginning to contemplate his eventual demise, asked Her Majesty if she would consider allowing Wallis to be buried next to him at Frogmore, the Royal cemetery near Windsor Castle. The Queen took the request under advisement, but soon granted her uncle his wish.
Part Five: Wallis’ Reputation in the 1970’s.
The Home of Genevieve Achille-Fould Pray.
“You are a lucky man. May I call you René?”, said Genevieve. Without an answer, she continued, “You may not yet understand just how lucky you are to exposed to her. I hope you appreciate the privilege. One day you will come to know exactly how great this lady is and what her life has been-what she has had to endure with public opinion and gossip. It is more than one can understand at your age.”
Part Six: Royal Memoirs.
The Heart Has Its Reason was self-published by the Duchess in 1956. The title is part of a famous quote from the French romantic philosopher, Blaise Pascal. It could not have been a more clever or appropriate title as it is a perfect metaphor for her life.
A King’s Story, published only fifteen years after the abdication, is simply dedicated “to Wallis”. The above-average-length book begins with his birth and ends on the night of the abdication address to the British nation, his calm farewell to his brothers and his late-night drive to awaiting destroyer, The Fury. There, with Wallis’ Cairn terrier, Slipper, under his arm, he sailed away into the fog of the early hours of December 12, 1936