Heritage

Inside the Wedding That Changed the British Royal Family Forever

A look back at the controversial marriage of Wallis Simpson and the Duke of Windsor, 80 years later.
IMAGE Getty
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For a love story that changed the British monarchy forever, Edward VIII's wedding to Wallis Simpson was a relatively modest affair.

Eighty years ago—and just six months after his abdication from the British throne rocked the royal family and the nation—the former King of England, now Duke of Windsor, wed his beloved American divorcée at the Chateau De Cande, in Monts, France.


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The Duke and Duchess of Windsor (center) pose with Herman Rogers (left), who gave the bride away, and best man Major Metcalf (right).

Free of the pomp and circumstance we've come to associate with royal weddings, the controversial union was a small ceremony. And while press photos weren't allowed during the event, Time magazine reported on the day in detail, noting that the Duke of Windsor was "hallow-eyed" as Simpson walked down the aisle to the march from Handel's Judas Maccabeus, wearing a dress of "soft blue crepe with a tight, buttoned bodice, a halo-shaped hat of the same color, shoes, and gloves to match. At her throat was a tremendous diamond-&-sapphire brooch."


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The Duke and Duchess of Windsor on their wedding day.

"Only two incidents disturbed the ceremony," noted the Time reporter. "When Vicar Jardine asked, 'Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honor and keep her?' overwrought Edward cried 'I will!' in a shrill voice that was almost a scream. When he put on her finger the plain wedding ring of Welsh-mined gold that has become a tradition in the British Royal Family, the trembling of his hands was noticeable even to the farthest watchers."


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A crowd of well-wishers

Champagne and toasts followed, with notable guests including Randolph Churchill, Baron Eugène Rothschild, and best man Major Edward Dudley Metcalfe, but no members of the groom's family.

And while the newlyweds were granted a wide berth from the press following the wedding, at least by modern standards, Time did report that "reporters were waiting when the royal honeymooners reached Wasserloenburg Castle in Austria. The moon was shining as the Duke carried his Duchess over the threshold."

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Caroline Hallemann
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