As a keen historian I have always been fascinated with the events leading up to the abdication of Edward V111 and beyond. Discerning fact from fiction has always been a challenge.
And so it was with great interest that I have just finished reading 'That Woman' (ISBN: 978-0-297-85896-6) the first full biography of Wallis Simpson authored by Anne Sebba, one of Britain's most distinguished biographers. Based on new archives and material only recently made available this scrupulously researched biography sheds new light on the character and motivations of a powerful, charismatic and complex woman and asks: was this really the romantic love story of the century?
The book contains some really interesting tit-bits including the transcript of a telephone conversation between Simpson and the Duke of Windsor two days after the abdication recorded secretly by the Metropolitan Police who tapped her phone ...
[Mrs S] If they don't get you this thing (presumably money) I will return to England and fight it out to the bitter end. The coronation will be a flop compared with the story I shall tell the British press. I shall publish it in every paper in the world so the whole world may know my story. Your mother is even persecuting me now. Look in all the Sunday papers to see what she has done .......
And also the revelation that with the Duke and Duchess spirited out of Portugal and on the way to the Bahamas where he was to serve as Governor for the remainder of the war, he was 'chaperoned' by a naval intelligence officer, Sir Peter Russell, who was issued with a pistol not simply to use it in any attempt to defend the Duke and Duchess but to use it against them in the event of a kidnap attempt.
Better dead than in Hitler's hands.
Compelling reading. Recommended.