Edward VIII's 'clingy' ways pushed American divorcee Wallis Simpson into gay millionaire Jimmy Donahue's arms

'Wallis Simpson felt very trapped in the marriage because she had to keep entertaining this man who was born to be king and threw it all away for her. What a poisoned chalice that must have been'


                            Edward VIII's 'clingy' ways pushed American divorcee Wallis Simpson into gay millionaire Jimmy Donahue's arms
(Getty Images)
ADVERTISEMENT

Everyone is familiar with the story of King Edward VIII abdicating his throne in December 1936, after becoming the ruling monarch for less than a year, after falling in love with an American socialite, Wallis Simpson, who, at the time had divorced her first husband and was seeking a divorce from her second. But few know about the aftermath of their marriage, in which Wallis cheated on Edward with a James Paul Donahue. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Banished from England after his abdication and banned from carrying out any serious royal engagements, Edward, who thereon became Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, had little to do other than to host lavish parties wherever he stayed and rely heavily on his wife, Wallis, to keep him from getting bored. Edward's clingy behavior became quite overwhelming for Wallis. The second episode of the documentary, 'Private Lives of the Monarchs' which aired on May 25, 9 pm ET/PT, looks at Wallis' struggles in her marriage which led her to have an affair. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"I think the one thing that the Duke always remained steadfast about was his love of Wallis Simpson," Author and broadcaster James Sherwood said in the documentary. "He never regretted it and it was almost like, 'You have to entertain me, you have to keep me occupied because I have given up all of this for you.' I would imagine that Wallis Simpson felt very trapped in the marriage because she had to keep entertaining this man who was born to be king and threw it all away for her. What a poisoned chalice that must have been."

ADVERTISEMENT

According to the summary of the book, 'Dancing With The Devil: The Windsors and Jimmy Donahue,' which goes into details about the affair between Wallis and James Donahue, aka Jimmy, the latter inherited $15 million Woolworth's fortune and on the same day met the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in  1950. He was 19 years younger than Wallis and till he met her, he had only had homosexual relationships. He was loved within the confines of America's upper class for his wit, charm and generosity. The sexual attraction between Wallis and Jimmy was instant and the pair soon became inseparable.  

ADVERTISEMENT

Duke of Windsor (1894 - 1972) and Mrs Wallis Simpson (1896 - 1986) on their wedding day at Chateau de Conde, Monts, near Tours, France. (Getty Image)

Christopher Wilson, the author of 'Dancing With The Devil: The Windsors and Jimmy Donahue' said in the documentary: "Consider this, the Duchess of Windsor is in a dry, unrewarding human relationship. He adores her but won't leave her alone and it gets very weary. I think that personal relationships were fulfilling for him but they were not fulfilling for her. She had gotten to the stage in her life where she was looking at herself in the mirror and saying 'I've got all the jewels I want. I've got all the photographs I want. I've got houses, money and what next.' And at that point, a young man called Jimmy Donahue walked across her path and she fell for him..."

ADVERTISEMENT

Edward VIII did find out about his wife's secret affair at one point, Wilson said. The dramatic moment in question was recorded by the private secretary of the Windsors in the form of a diary entry. "She overhears the Duke finally confronting the Duchess. The Duchess had been having an affair with Jimmy Donahue for four years and finally in their apartment in New York, the Duke tells the Duchess, 'It's got to stop.' He is in tears. He is begging her. He is pleading with her that she should give up this young man. And she's been found out. She didn't know that he knew and she walks away from that encounter... full of doubt... and still the relationship went on."

ADVERTISEMENT

The relationship took a toll on the Duke of Windsor who started drinking heavily in the times that his wife spent in consort with Jimmy. It is not known when the affair actually came to an end.  Despite feeling trapped, she continued life with Edward and was beside his death bed when the duke passed away after battling a malignant tumor in his throat in May 1972. Her body was buried beside Edward's 14 years later.

ADVERTISEMENT