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Wallis Simpson said writing about royal life is ‘dreadful thing to do’

Wallis Simpson ‘never forgave’ the Queen Mother says expert

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In rediscovered footage, the Duchess of Windsor is seen discussing her relationship with the Royal Family and shuts down any speculation surrounding her plans to write a book. During a visit to New York, her first in three years, Wallis Simpson said she gets along with the royals “quite well,” adding that she visits them when she goes to England. A journalist then asks her whether she had “any plans for writing a book” of her own, to which the then-77-year-old responds: “I certainly have no plans for writing.”

Laughing, she adds: “I think it’s the most dreadful thing to do.”

The interview took place in April 1974, almost two years after her husband — Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne to marry the American divorcee — died from a battle with throat cancer.

Decades earlier, both Wallis and Edward had penned their memoirs, both using the same ghostwriter.

Charles J.V. Murphy, a former Washington bureau chief for Fortune magazine, who also wrote for Time and Life, worked with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to publish their autobiographies — Edward’s in 1947 and Wallis’ in 1956.

According to Mr Murphy, the Duchess was initially an obstacle in her husband’s writing process as she insisted on voicing “her jealousy of the Duke’s absorption in a golden past which she had never known”.

In the 1979 tell-all The Windsor Story, which he co-wrote with J. Bryan III, he said: “It began to display itself in constant interruptions…A dozen times a day she would telephone to the Duke in his workroom, reminding him of a dinner party that evening, or asking him to fetch her a letter from his files, or ordering him to attend at once to some trifling household matter…With a ‘Yes, darling!’ he would leap to his feet, glad of the excuse to break off, and would sprint away on her errand.”

Wallis, in her own autobiography, The Heart Has Its Reasons, admitted she found her husband’s new job frustrating. “When David started his book some years ago, I found it difficult to understand how he could spend so much time staring at a blank sheet of paper,” she writes. “I had often been a golf widow; this was my first experience being a literary one.”

However, after seeing the success of A King’s Story, the Duchess decided to write her own book for $700,000 (£250,000). She hired Mr Murphy and they started work in 1954.

According to the ghostwriter, Wallis was a far more focused worker than Edward. But he claims he found himself conflicted by what he deemed the Duchess’ fanciful recollections and wish to spite the Royal Family.

In light of their differing visions, Wallis fired Mr Murphy on the grounds of him being too old-fashioned and serious. She later rehired him but maintained her desire to be portrayed as “eternally youthful––eternally gay…”.

By many accounts, she succeeded: The Heart Has Its Reasons has been described as vague and breezy, touching on matters of interest, such as her marriage and the abdication, but coming across as dishonest.

Hadley Meares, a historical journalist, said: “Much like her husband’s section on the abdication, the reader may feel the Duchess of Windsor is being less than honest about what really happened.”

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“She goes to great lengths to hammer home the fact that she never wanted the duke to abdicate, that she never thought he would,” Ms Meares wrote in Vanity Fair last week. “Her most authentic moments are when she describes being chased by the press like a ‘hunted animal’ hated by the world.”

In her memoir, Wallis admitted to being fascinated by royal life before meeting the then-Prince of Wales and falling in love with both him and what he represented. “I had no difficulty in explaining to myself the nature of the Prince’s appeal to me,” she wrote.

“Over and beyond the charm of his personality and the warmth of his manner, he was the open sesame to a new and glittering world that excited me as nothing in my life had ever done before … it seemed unbelievable that I, Wallis Warfield of Baltimore, Maryland, could be part of this enchanted world.”

Wallis’ book did not sell as well as her husband’s, shifting 26,000 copies in the US, in comparison to the Duke’s 120,000, according to historian Andrew Lownie, who also noted the couple’s tendency to diverge from the truth.

He told Express.co.uk that the “lucrative and not entirely truthful autobiographies from both Windsors did little to improve family relations”.

Mr Lownie, who authored Traitor King, added: “Nor did the continuing exploitation of the royal brand to endorse products, provocative tv and radio interviews, curation of their story through tame biographers and threats of legal action.”

The Royal Family were reportedly dismayed by Edward’s autobiography. “Behind the scenes the book caused unrestrained anger and concern,” wrote British author Lady Frances Lonsdale Donaldson, per Anna Pasternak’s article in the Sunday Telegraph. “Those who had taken part in the events the Duke described were often astonished to read a version of them which bore no relation to their own memories.”

According to the Sunday Telegraph, the Royal Family’s feelings went even further than that: “While his family held its peace, he apparently found it necessary to exchange a highly coloured and, in my view, one-sided account of his abdication for a large cheque,” the paper quoted a former private secretary as saying.

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