The Secret File of the Duke of Windsor Summary

Michael Bloch

The Secret File of the Duke of Windsor

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The story line is well known: King Edward VIII met and fell deeply in love with a married American woman, Wallis Simpson. Though she could obtain a divorce and be free to marry, the king would never be free to marry a divorcee--and an American commoner at that. Given the choice between love and duty, Edward chose love, and thereby hangs the sordid tale that unfolds in THE SECRET FILE OF THE DUKE OF WINDSOR. The former king’s family never forgave him for abdicating, and they never accepted Wallis Simpson either, although in death her burial was allowed at Frogmore, next to her husband.

No longer king, Edward did not have the power to prevent the bad treatment of him and his wife that ensued. Wallis and Edward (or WE as they fondly styled themselves in their letters) had to fight for everything they got. At first, they were promised an allowance from King George VI himself, as Edward’s brother and successor. George, however, was a weak personality, ruled by his queen and his mother. The Windsors had to threaten legal action before George honored his promise, and even then they were only given a small part of what had been promised. Yet the constant thread through the money worries, the indignity of the duchess’ not being the duke’s equal in status, and their virtual banishment from Great Britain is the true love that existed between Wallis and her David. The book combines extracts from their letters to each other and other people, as well as letters written by Edward but never sent and some notes that he had taken at various important meetings. The text is supplemented by a useful index of people involved in the Windsors’ lives and several appendices containing legal and historical background material. More telling than any commentary, however, are the letters themselves, which readily evoke the reader’s sympathy.

The Windsors were never allowed to return to Great Britain, and the outcome of the situation is already known by the reader not to have been happily resolved, yet THE SECRET FILE OF THE DUKE OF WINDSOR is not a depressing book. The late Duke and Duchess of Windsor may have been bilked of many things, but at least they still had more than thirty happy years together as husband and wife.