I WILL FOLLOW YOU WHERE EVER YOU MAY GO
I WILL FOLLOW YOU WHERE EVER YOU MAY GO
I will follow you
Right until the last minute, the newly-abdicated King of England believed his brothers would attend his wedding to Wallis Simpson. To his distress, neither turned up.
Nor did many of the friends who had been invited to attend the ceremony in France. In the end, a mere seven guests witnessed the former king’s marriage. Within just six months, the toadying courtiers and hangers-on had melted away.
Denial: Wallis was determined to give the Duke whatever she could to make up for what he had sacrificed, but previously unpublished letters reveal that she still hankered after her ex-husband, Ernest Simpson
Not even the lowliest member of his personal staff had agreed to accompany him into temporary exile. But the most bitter blow of all came in a letter from Edward’s brother, now King George VI.
The three-times-married Wallis, he decreed, would not be accorded the status of Her Royal Highness. ‘This is a nice wedding present,’ said Edward, beside himself with anger at what he saw as a betrayal by his own family. Now downgraded to the Duke of Windsor, he had fully intended to return to Britain with his bride — but he knew now that only humiliation awaited them.
It was in this mood that he returned a wedding present — a Faberge box — from his other brother, the Duke of Kent. Henceforth, he confided to his best man, Fruity Metcalfe, he was through with his family. He would be loyal to the Crown, but not to the new King.
As for George VI, he was never to change his mind about granting the status of HRH to his brother’s wife — despite many pleas over the years. His own wife Elizabeth — later to become the Queen Mother — was similarly intractable.
Affair: The Simpsons were gradually absorbed into Edward's social life, spending weekends at his home and before long the Prince began falling for Wallis's flirtations and sparkling repartee
In a recently-released letter sent to the Dominions Secretary in 1940, a courtier recorded her views. According to the new Queen, Wallis — a woman with ‘three husbands alive’ — was ‘looked down upon as the lowest of the low’.
This would have come as little surprise to Wallis. Realistic about the position she now found herself in, she determined to give the Duke whatever she could to make up for what he had abandoned.
When Walter Monckton, Edward’s legal adviser, ventured to say that nothing would be too bad for her now if she made the Duke unhappy, she responded: ‘Walter, don’t you think I have thought of all that? I think I can make him happy.’
If that meant loading her slight frame down with rings, earrings, brooches, bracelets and necklaces, then so be it. To a courtier who suggested she might be wearing too many jewels, she said: ‘You forget that I am the Duchess of Windsor. I shall never let the Duke down.’
Nor did she demur when her husband pompously insisted that staff and friends should refer to her as Her Royal Highness, and honour her with bows and curtsies.
Love letters: Even after she married Edward VIII, Wallis kept writing to Ernest Simpson and it is thought she never lost affection for him
Privately, however, she was still thinking about her ex-husband, Ernest Simpson, with whom she’d once been so content. As previously unpublished letters now reveal, she continued for years to exchange affectionate letters with him — even on her honeymoon in 1937.
From Schloss Wasserleonburg, a secluded castle in the Carinthian mountains where the Duke and Duchess stayed immediately after their wedding, she wrote to Ernest: ‘I think of us so much, though I try not to. I wonder so often how you are? How the business is getting on etc. I thought I’d write a few lines to say I’d love to hear from you if you feel like telling me a bit.’
She then referred to her long-standing belief that she had a good side and a bad side that were forever at war, implying Ernest alone knew how to nurture the ‘good’ Wallis.
‘The dual side of my nature will out and you filled my one side so utterly. Anyway I shall always be struggling with myself to the grave and whereas other people will become happy I shall never be able to answer either of my sides satisfactorily. If only one of me was stronger than the other.’
Clearly upset that her old school-friend Mary Kirk was romantically involved with Ernest, she informed him that Mary’s ambition had ‘left a wound that will never heal’.
Anyway, she added: ‘I shall write about it again. It is very painful and it is too late. Wherever you are, you can be sure that never a day goes by without some hours thought of you and for you and again in my prayers at night. With love, Wallis.’ These were, of course, hardly the sentiments of a woman madly in love with her new husband. But even Baba Metcalfe, the wife of Fruity, never believed that Wallis was truly in love.
Recalling the sparsely-attended wedding, she later wrote: ‘My effort to be charming and to like her broke down. One would warm towards her but her attitude is so correct and hard. The effect is of an older woman unmoved by the infatuated love of a younger man.’
Wallis, however, knew this was her last throw of the dice and privately vowed to do all in her power to make the marriage a success. In many ways, she succeeded: the Duke adored her and depended on her until the day he died.
Flirtatious female: In the early days, Wallis would say to Edward, 'You're just a heartbreak to any woman because you can never marry her'
But she was too politically naive to prevent him from making the greatest faux pas of his life — and by then, there were no courtiers to save the couple from their follies.
Having taken hospitality from Charles Bedaux, a businessman with considerable interests in Nazi Germany, Edward eagerly took up his suggestion that he should visit the country. It would be a good way to promote peace, he persuaded himself.
The visit also appealed because it afforded a rare opportunity for his darling Wallis to experience the pomp of a state visit, as if she’d become his queen.
Alarmed, both the Foreign Office and George VI asked the Windsors not to go — but the Duke was in no mood to appease those who had humiliated him and his bride.
Heartbreak: Previously unpublished letters to her second husband revealed Wallis deeply regretted losing him
So the Windsors arrived at the main station in Berlin in October 1937, where they were greeted by a number of Nazi leaders, then whisked off to a banquet with Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, Rudolf Hess and Hitler’s envoy to Britain, Joachim von Ribbentrop.
After visiting Dresden, Nuremberg, Stuttgart and Munich — where Wallis was always addressed as Her Royal Highness — the couple were taken to see the Führer himself at his mountain home, The Berghof, just outside Salzburg.
Dudley Forwood, who was present at the hour-long meeting, recalled: ‘My Master said to Hitler that the Germans and the British races are one, they should always be one. They are of Hun origin.’
Afterwards, Wallis happily posed for pictures as Hitler smiled and kissed her hand, while her husband looked on proudly. By allowing themselves to be photographed in this fashion, the Duke and Duchess were condoning the Nazi regime. And the visit also encouraged Hitler to believe that when Britain was conquered, the Duke would be willing to be restored to the British throne with Wallis as queen.
Was this ever discussed with him? No one knows, but clearly the Duke felt he knew Hitler well enough to send him a personal telegram on the eve of World War II, pleading for peace. Hitler replied on September 2, 1939, the day after Germany had invaded Poland, assuring the Duke ‘that my attitude towards England remains the same’. On the very next day, Britain was at war.
At that point, the Windsors decided it was time to visit home. Attitudes towards them were changing and a Gallup poll showed that 61 per cent of the British people wanted them to return.
But Queen Elizabeth, who believed that you could not have two kings living in the same country, was as implacable as ever. So when the couple arrived, the Royal Family did not send a car to collect them and refused to put them up in any of the royal residences. They were forced, instead, to stay with the loyal Fruity Metcalfe. And Wallis was deliberately excluded when Edward was invited to see his brother, the King.
At the end of September, they returned to France to join the war effort. While Edward worked at the British Military Mission, Wallis delivered plasma, bandages and cigarettes to hospitals near the front line and was often billeted within the sound of gunfire.
Wallis and Edward pictured at their villa in Biarritz, 1951
But after France fell to the Germans, they were forced to flee southwards. Clearly, something had to be done for these awkward Windsors, who risked becoming a political embarrassment.
The King’s solution, in July 1940, was to appoint his brother governor of the Bahamas, then known as the British Empire’s most backward-looking colony.
It was Edward’s last official job. Despite often unbearable heat and humidity, the couple stayed there for five years — and Wallis proved to be an excellent governor’s wife.
Frank Giles, later editor of the Sunday Times but then working as an aide to the Governor, was struck by how ‘extraordinarily nice Wallis was to people as she went around inspecting homes and crèches, and always had the right word for everyone, always able to make whomever she was talking to feel they were the person she’d been waiting all her life to meet, which was very flattering’.
She also founded a clinic for the care of expectant mothers and young children. Ironically, her actions proved that she might well have been an able royal consort.
Happily ever after? After their wedding, Edward insisted on seeing Wallis all of the time so much so she began to relish his absences
After the war, the couple returned to France, where Wallis did her best to transform their rented house in Paris into a home fit for a king — complete with footmen wearing royal livery and a full-length portrait of her disapproving mother-in-law, Queen Mary, in the drawing room.
The death of George VI — and accession of the Duke’s 25-year-old niece, Queen Elizabeth II — made little difference to the Windsors’ standing in the eyes of the remaining Royal Family.
The King’s allowance to Edward of £25,000 ceased on his death, and the new Queen did not revive it.
Wallis, who referred to the Queen as Shirley Temple and her mother as Mrs Temple Senior, was furious. ‘They are beasts to continue to treat you the way they do. I am afraid Mrs Temple Sr. will never give in,’ she wrote to the Duke.
The number of important and interesting people who sought them out rapidly diminished and their lives consisted of shopping, formal dinners and answering occasional demands to be patrons of a charity.
Wallis herself ensured she had a front-row seat at most of the haute couture shows in Paris.
Her craving to be first with the latest fashion led to ghastly mistakes — sequined hot pants on one occasion and a Paco Rabanne ultra-modern spacesuit on another — and her muscular shoulders looked peculiar in strapless evening dresses.
The Duke died, on May 28, 1972, from throat cancer. As the funeral had to be held in Britain, Wallis was invited to spend three nights as a guest of the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The attitude of the Royal Family was cold, she told friends.
At almost 76, she looked elegant in her mourning clothes, a plain black Givenchy coat with matching dress and waist-length chiffon veil. But she couldn’t resist mocking her sister-in-law’s outfit to friends — especially the Queen Mother’s hat, which she said looked as if a plastic arrow had been shot through it.
For their part, the Royal Family failed to accompany the grieving widow to the airport when she left.
Within two years, she was bedridden with numerous ailments. Her nurses found her confused and senile, and friends noticed that she would often speak of the past as if the Duke were still present, even begging him not to abdicate.
When she died aged 90, on April 24, 1986, her body was transported to England and nearly 200 people attended her funeral service in St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
Her one-time friend the Duchess of Marlborough observed: ‘I went to look at the flowers. It was tragic: they were all from dressmakers, jewellers, Dior, Van Cleef, Alexandre. Those people were her life.’
Adventures have seen pair swimming with whale sharks, going to full moon parties and drinking 'cat poo coffee'
In 2013, the internet exploded when Russian photographer Murad Osmann posted shots of his stunning girlfriend Natalia Zakharova in exotic locations around the globe.
Whether in Hong Kong, Sinapore, Bali or Rome, the one constant in these photographs was Natalia leading Murad by the hand, facing away from the camera. Osmann's #followmeto Instagram now has three million followers.
And now a Canadian couple, on their own adventure in Asia, are attempting to emulate this success. Christian LeBlanc, 22, and his girlfriend Laura Reid, 22, from Vancouver, have been travelling since the beginning of this year.
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Laura gets up close and personal to an elephant and her calf at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Their photos - which are similar to the #followme couple's original shots, show Laura leading Christian by the hand as they experience the wonders of Asia.
The social media enthusiasts - Christian's Instagram page has 27,700 followers and both have travel vlogging pages on YouTube - quickly got up to high jinks all over the world, including surfing in Bali, swimming with turtles in the Philippines and river tubing in Laos.
As well as attending all-night full-moon parties in Thailand, climbing the Chocolate Hills in the Philippines, and seeing the rice fields of Vietnam, the couple also took in culture, visiting the ancient temples of Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm Temple in Cambodia.
Ta Prohm Temple in Cambodia. The couple was inspired by Murad Osmann's viral Instagram photographs under the #followmeto hashtag
Christian first left Canada after a school exchange in January meant that he had the opportunity to study abroad in Bangkok. Since Laura joined him in March, the pair have graduated from their year and travelled to 10 countries across Asia.
Christian said: 'Murad Osmann is the original creator of this style of "followmeto" photos and I loved the concept.
'It's a more interesting way of sharing your experiences and the best part is you don't need to look put together because the picture is from behind.'
Surf's up in Kuta Bali, Indonesia. The couple, from Vancouver, have been travelling since the beginning of this year
Taking in the view: Laura, who has her own travel vlogging page is pictured looking out to sea in Koh Tao, Thailand
Chocolate Hills, in Bohol, the Philippines. Christian admitted to loving the style and concept of Murad Osmann's #followme photographs
Taking in some culture: Laura pictured outside the Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the largest religious monument in the world
Koh Lanta, Thailand. Taking photographs from behind is 'a more interesting way of sharing your experiences,' says Christian
The bright lights of Hong Kong: The #followmeto Instagram now has three million followers, can this couple emulate their success?
Taking the plunge: Laura contemplates diving in to the crystalline waters of the Kawasan Falls, in Cebu, Philippines
Magical moments: The couple enjoy a spot of snorkelling Apo Island in the Philippines, meeting the local marine life
Leading the way: As usual, Laura guides Christian to one of Asia's most iconic sites: The Hoi An Marble Temple, in Vietnam
The Sapa Rice Terraces in Vietnam. Christian first embarked on his adventure in January this year, and Laura joined him in March
High jinks: Here the globe-trotting let their hair down to go river rubing the Mekong River, in Vang Vieng, Laos
Breathtaking scenery: A pensive moment for Christian and Laura as the sunsets over the Pai Canyon, in Thailand
The thrill-seekers documented everything along the way including hiring scooters in Pai, Thailand
The couple hold hands (again) while admiring the spectacular lanterns at a night market in Hoi, Vietnam
A rare glimpse from the front: Laura smiles at the camera at the Sandat Glamping Resort, in Bali
The adventure of a life time: The Canadian couple go trekking in the town of Vang Vieng, in Laos
The beautiful Turnalog Falls, in Cebu, Philippines. Christian's popular Instagram page has over 27,000 followers
Tham Lod Cave, in Pai, Thailand. The social media loving couple also make videos of their travels, using a Gopro
Celebrations: The couple celebrate Thai New Years in Chiang Mai, with a heavy duty water pistol
When did backpackers stop roughing it? Laura pictured at the luxury Villa Kubu, in Bali
The dedicated couple even held hands under water: The adventurous couple go scuba diving in El Nido, in Palawan, the Philippines
Laura making a splash at Mactan Beach, Cebu, in the Philippines
Where it all began: Murad Osmann took a series of stunning images featuring his girlfriend Natalia Zakharova all over the world