Most of us living in Molesey will know about our connection with the Duke and his love of racing at Kempton Park. He also had a special reason to be in the surrounding areas. He frequently visited local socialite Freda Dudley Ward. Freda lived in Monksbridge, in Lower Sunbury with her husband who chose to turn a blind eye to the affair with the Prince of Wales which started when Freda was only 23.
The prince was a regular visitor to
Sunbury and there is still evidence of the affair in the form of a topiary teddy (short for Edward of course) in the riverside garden of Monksbridge, which was apparently a gift from the prince. The affair lasted 17 years, although it was by no means his only affair.
In 1929 Wallis came on the scene. She met Thelma, Lady Furness, the then-mistress of Edward, Prince of Wales. On 10 January 1931, Lady Furness introduced Wallis to the Prince. In January 1934, while Lady Furness was away in New York City, Wallis allegedly became the Prince’s mistress.
By the end of 1934, Edward was irretrievably besotted with Wallis, finding her domineering manner and abrasive irreverence toward his position appealing; in the words of his official biographer, he became “slavishly dependent” on her.
At an evening party in Buckingham Palace, he introduced her to his parents. His father was outraged because of her marital history, as divorced people were generally excluded from court. Edward showered Wallis with money and jewels, and in February 1935, and again later in the year, he holidayed with her in Europe. His courtiers became increasingly alarmed as the affair began to interfere with his official duties. Shortly after his coronation, the king created a constitutional crisis by proposing to Mrs Simpson, scandalous as her divorcee status.
As Edward was head of the Church of England, their marriage was forbidden, leading to the king’s controversial abdication in December 1936. Edward was the first king since 1399 to relinquish the throne, and his decision recognised by the British government as the appropriate decision to make in the circumstances.
After abdicating, the former king was created Duke of Windsor by his brother and successor, King George V. Wallis and Edward married on 3 June 1937 at the Château de Candé, loaned to them by French millionaire Charles Bedaux. After the wedding, Wallis was formally known as the Duchess of Windsor, without the title “Her Royal Highness”. She was instead styled as “Her Grace”, a style normally reserved for non-royal dukes and duchesses.
The Duchess of Windsor died on 24 April 1986 at her home in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris. Her funeral was held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, attended by her two surviving sisters-in-law – the Queen Mother and Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester – and other members of the royal family. The Queen, Prince Philip, and the Prince and Princess of Wales attended both the funeral ceremony and the burial. She was buried next to Edward in the Royal Burial Ground near Windsor Castle, as “Wallis, Duchess of Windsor