Wallis Simpson (born Bessie Wallis Warfield; 19 June 1896 – 24 April 1986), later known as the Duchess of Windsor, was an American socialite and mistress, later wife, of King Edward VIII.
Wallis grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. Her father died shortly after her birth and she and her widowed mother were partly supported by their wealthier relatives. Her first marriage, to U.S. naval officer Win Spencer, was punctuated by periods of separation and eventually ended in divorce. In 1931, during her second marriage, to Ernest Simpson, she met Edward, then Prince of Wales through her friend Thelma, Lady Furness, his current mistress. Wallis quickly supplanted Lady Furness in the Prince's affection.
Two years later, after Edward's accession as king, Wallis divorced her second husband. The King created a constitutional crisis in his desire to marry a woman who had two living ex-husbands which ultimately led to his abdication in December 1936 to marry "the woman I love". After abdicating, the former king was created Duke of Windsor by his brother and successor, George VI. Edward married Wallis six months later (his father’s 72nd birthday), after which she was formally known as the Duchess of Windsor, without the style "HRH". She was instead styled as "Her Grace", a style normally reserved for non-royal dukes and duchesses.
Before, during, and after World War II, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were suspected by the government of being Nazi sympathizers. In 1937, they visited Germany and met Adolf Hitler. In 1940, the Duke was appointed the governor of the Bahamas, and the couple moved to the islands until he relinquished the office in 1945.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Duke and Duchess shuttled between Europe and the United States living a life of leisure as society celebrities. After the Duke's death in 1972, the Duchess lived in seclusion and was rarely seen in public until her death in 1986, at aged 89. Both Edward and Wallis are buried in the Royal Burial Ground near Windsor Castle.