Edward & Mrs. Simpson

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Edward & Mrs. Simpson
Edward & Mrs. Simpson.jpg
Genre Drama
Directed by Waris Hussein
Produced by Andrew Brown
Written by Frances Donaldson
Simon Raven
Starring Peggy Ashcroft
Maurice Denham
Edward Fox
Marius Goring
Cynthia Harris
Nigel Hawthorne
Charles Keating
Cherie Lunghi
Kika Markham
Jessie Matthews
Andrew Ray
John Shrapnel
David Waller
Music by Ron Grainer
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Original channel ITV
Original run 6 November 1978  – 20 December 1978

Edward & Mrs. Simpson is a seven-part British television series that dramatises the events leading to the 1936 abdication of King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, who gave up his throne to marry the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson.

The series, made by Thames Television for ITV, was originally broadcast in 1978. Edward Fox played Edward, and Cynthia Harris portrayed Mrs. Simpson. The series was scripted by Simon Raven, based on Fox's maternal aunt Frances Donaldson's biography of the King, Edward VIII. It was produced by Andrew Brown, overseen by Head of Drama Thames Television Verity Lambert and directed by Waris Hussein. The incidental music was by Ron Grainer.

The series won the 1980 Emmy award for Outstanding Limited Series, and BAFTA Awards in 1979 for Best Actor, Best Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Series or Serial. It has been released on DVD in Region 2 (UK) by Network, and in Region 1 (United States) by A&E.


1) The Little Prince: Edward's life in the 1920s as Prince of Wales, his romances with Freda Dudley Ward and Lady Furness, his introduction to Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Simpson.

2) Venus at the Prow: The romance between Edward and Mrs. Simpson develops.

3) The New King: Edward succeeds to the throne upon the death of his father, King George V, in January, 1936, and asks Mrs. Simpson to marry him. Mr. Simpson agrees to a divorce. The King, Mrs. Simpson, and friends cruise the Mediterranean, an event widely reported by the press outside of England.

4) The Divorce: Edward convinces Mrs. Simpson to go forward with her divorce; she would then be free to marry him and be crowned Queen at the coronation scheduled for May, 1937. The King and the government pressure the British press to maintain silence about the King's romance, but news dribbles into Britain and gossip abounds. The New York Journal breaks the story "King will wed Wally".

5) The Decision: Edward is warned that British press silence about his 'friendship' with Mrs. Simpson is about to be broken. The King tells the royal family and the Prime Minister that he intends to marry Wallis Simpson, and will abdicate if he cannot do so as King.

6) Proposals: Attempts are made to resolve the problem without Edward's abdicating, including a proposal put forth by the King for a morganatic marriage with Wallis Simpson. The British and Commonwealth governments oppose the marriage in any form.

7) The Abdication: The final days of Edward as King.


The theme music used for the opening and closing titles was a composite of Herbert Farjeon's 1927 song "I've danced with a man, who's danced with a girl, who's danced with the Prince of Wales" and the opening of the British national anthem "God Save the King." The Farjeon song was inspired by Edna Deane, a well known champion ballroom dancer of the time.

Other music used during the series were original recordings by Al Bowlly including "Isn't It Heavenly" (two recordings exist from 1 August 1933 and 25 October 1933 for Decca, it is not known which recording was used in the series) and "Love Is The Sweetest Thing" (recorded 8 September 1932). Al Bowlly lived in London but was often found touring the UK. He enjoyed a succession of hits and is thought to have recorded hundreds of songs between 1927 and 1941. "Isn't It Heavenly" takes centre stage in a scene in which Edward and Mrs Simpson are dancing in their private hotel suite c.1935.

Ron Grainer provided the incidental music used throughout the series.



The series was produced and aired during the Duchess of Windsor's lifetime and though becoming increasingly ill, it is reported she found the series to be a gross invasion of her privacy. Her requests to be sent a copy of the script were apparently ignored and she received an amount of correspondence from people who said they would not watch the series.[1]


  1. ^ Mosley, Diana (2003), The Duchess of Windsor and Other Friends, London: Gibson Square Books Ltd; New edition 

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