|—||Alice Montague, Wallis’s mom, on her darling daughter.|
|—||Wallis Windsor, The Heart Has Its Reasons pg. 32|
30 Day Royal Challenge-
Day 7: Post a picture of your favorite royal wedding dress
Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom
30 Day Royal Challenge-
Day 2: Post a picture of your favorite royal (past & present)
Present: Prince Harry of Wales
Wallis Warfield close to when she graduated highschool. I’m sure the hat seemed like a good idea at the time.
I understand that a lot of people think Wallis was a no good horrible, all around awful person who did nothing but horrible things, just for the sake of being horrible. Even if you’re convinced of that and are unwilling to ever consider changing your mind, you should not be okay with what history (or rather a never-ending stream of poorly qualified “historians”) have done to her.
This is a woman who was never in her life convicted of any crime and she has been judged primarily on her sexual history and her appearance. That is never okay, and it always seems to be women who get that treatment. In fact, even when historians try to defend her they do it by claiming she didn’t actually sleep with that many people and she was really quite pretty when she was young. It doesn’t matter what she looked like and it doesn’t matter who she had sex with. Yes, it was wrong of her to cheat on Ernest Simpson, but people have taken a situation where everyone involved was cheating on someone in a culture where adultery was widely accepted as a part of life and singled out Wallis as if she was the bad apple that spoiled the bunch. There were no children involved like there were in the Charles/Camilla affair; there were no victims here. Multiple people behaved badly and Wallis suffered the harshest consequences of any of them and is still being blamed because women are not supposed to have sex and that goes double if they aren’t young and don’t look like Kate Upton.
Her gender identity has been questioned. Wallis has been accused of having affairs with me she didn’t know and holding beliefs she never professed, but in this case the fact that people are just making shit up isn’t even the issue. The issue is that Wallis identified as a woman and presented herself as a woman and even if there was evidence she was transgender or intersexed her gender is not up for debate. She was a woman and that is that. I don’t know how this all got started but I understand that back in the day people had all kinds of horrifically offensive ideas. And Wallis herself was no exception to that. But what is really wrong here is that people are still referring to Wallis as a “him” or a “shemale” on royal sites and that in 2011 the Daily Mail was still willing to publish a headline claiming she wasn’t “all woman”. Not only is her gender identity violated, but insults are piled on to this. People don’t say Wallis wasn’t “all woman” or speculate on her biology just for an additional fun fact for their article or bio. They say it with malice, with the implication that she was a prostitute and a dominatrix and that all of her relationships (especially the one with Edward VIII) were deviant. This is offensive. There has always been a general feeling among commentators of all sorts that Wallis was somehow sexually “deviant” and “abnormal” and those allegations have always been tied to the speculation about her gender identity. When this offensive “speculation” keeps persisting, not only are they saying that women who aren’t cisgendered aren’t really women, but that they’re abnormal and perverted too.
Wallis’s sex life is a key issue in pretty much everything that’s ever been said about her. We don’t know what she and Edward VIII did behind closed doors, but we speculate. It’s the same with most celebrities, dead or alive. Speculation is fine. What is problematic is the nasty, judgmental tone that speculation often takes. I can see why, given what little we do know, people think Wallis and Edward may have been up to something a little kinky. What I don’t see is why we act like this is something shocking or like it somehow defines their whole relationship. Because of our increasingly invasive media culture, we know more about what the current royals may be into than we did about past generations. Just in the last thirty years we’ve had a Prince who joked about being reincarnated as his girlfriend’s tampon, a Prince who eagerly engaged in an exhibitionist game of strip pool, a Duchess who likes getting her toes sucked, and a Duchess who has social ties to the owner of a sex club. Do we honestly think this kind of behavior is new? Then we have the stories that Wallis learned some sort of magic sex trick in a brothel in China. It’s pure xenophobia. There’s no evidence for it and I can’t help but notice that even though Wallis also spent time in Pensacola during her first husband’s military career no one ever claimed she picked up dirty tricks there. Furthermore, most of these stories carry the unspoken implication that Wallis was only interested in sex as a means for social and economic advancement. That’s a classic sexist trope. The idea is that women don’t (or at least shouldn’t) enjoy sex but good women do it anyway to reproduce and please their husbands and bad women use it to manipulate men for their own advancement. Really the whole narrative (based entirely on speculation) about Wallis and sex is so incredibly problematic we should probably trash the whole thing and start fresh.
One of the more subtle misdeeds common in historical accounts of Wallis’s life is the blatant disregard for her own words. It’s not that anyone should be expected to believe she was completely truthful in her own accounts; it’s the fact that Wallis’s own statements have been completely ignored in regards to things that only Wallis would know. People don’t even bother reading her memoirs, letters, or any of the interviews she gave before they come to their own conclusions about her most personal feelings and emotion. They then state those conclusions as if they were objective fact. Her own voice has been taken away to make it easier for others to tell her story for her. There’s something very arrogant about acting like you know what someone you never met was feeling better than they did. When people talk about her relationship with Edward VIII (or really anything personal about her) they come up with their own little description of how she felt. Sometimes they’ll quote an anonymous “friend” of hers, or even a likely fake thing she supposedly told that “friend”. But no one ever seems to quote any of the documented things Wallis said. This goes for people who love her or hate her or anything in between. It’s not that people dispute her account or look for reasons she might have lied. They just pretend she never said anything at all. They only time her words mean anything to anyone are when it’s something vague enough that it can be distorted and taken out of context to fit the narrative that someone else is trying to sell. It’s worse than people not believing her, it’s that since her death no on has even listened. A really interesting example of the phenomena is the widespread insistence that Wallis was deeply unhappy during her married to Edward even though her own accounts suggest quite the opposite was true. People say she was unhappy not because she ever actually indicated she was but because they feel like she didn’t deserve to be happy and because we, as a society, are more comfortable reading about behaviors that go against our norms when we can reassure ourselves that the situation ended badly. And because the Edward VIII/Wallis Simpson relationship was seen as going against our heteronormative relationship standards (to what extent it actually did is debatable) people take it as common sense that such a relationship would be doomed from the beginning.
It’s not okay to take a real person’s life and distort it to fit your own narrative. It’s not okay make degrading and prejudiced attacks against someone, even if you think they’re a bad person. In fact, especially if you think they’re a bad person. It’s not okay to hold one person to a harsher historical standard than anyone else just because you don’t like them. If you can’t criticize someone without resorting to these tactics then maybe you need to reevaluate why you hated them so much in the first place. I didn’t write this to be a blanket defense against whatever allegation you feel like throwing at Wallis. I didn’t write this as an endorsement of everything she ever said or did. I wrote this because the way the media and the mainstream historical narrative has treated her is not acceptable.
i’m surprisingly not shocked but appalled
This is the greatest video ever made.
It was simply grand, he said “Topping band” and she said “Delightful, Sir”
Glory, Glory, Alleluia! I’m the luckiest of females
For I’ve danced with a man, who’s danced with a girl, who’s danced with the Prince of Wales.
My word I’ve had a party, my word I’ve had a spree
Believe me or believe me not, it’s all the same to me!
I’m wild with exultation, I’m dizzy with success
|—||Hit song from the 1920’s about how happy the fangirls of America were about the Prince of Wales’s royal tour. Our Harry fangirling has historical precedent.|