Talk:Wallis Simpson

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Featured article Wallis Simpson is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
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May 11, 2007 WikiProject peer review Reviewed
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Current status: Featured article

Titles and Styles[edit]

Wikipedia Convention re Names[edit]

Should this and other similar entry of famous people known by other names than their birth names be changed? Should she be listed under "Wallis Warfield"? I know, given the many entries, this would be a difficult task but was just wondering. Mowens35 18:01, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I have moved this article to Wallis Simpson. This is the name by which she is far better known, not only does the article say so but also the vast majority of articles link to this title rather than Wallis Warfield. Also, as much as I do not like the method, the Google test supports my suggestion (8430 vs. 38300). Rje 01:42, Jun 3, 2005 (UTC)

Wallis should not be moved to pre-marital name: after all, she was not queen consort. Her marriage was with an ex-monarch, who was peerage Duke (guy with a substantial title) during the marriage. To such, our NC allots "consort name" here. In these grounds, Wallis should be Wallis, Duchess of Windsor. 18:54, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

Please stop this moving war. This page has been renamed five times since July 4th; four of those times have been in the past 11 days. Also, you're leaving double redirects all over the place. I'd fix them myself, but doing so seems rather pointless when the page will likely be moved again within the next week. 青い(Aoi) 00:04, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

Astute data of corresponding rant by a certain editor, see Wikipedia talk:Lamest edit wars ever#Bring in the Queens. The mass of text may exceed two good Agatha Christie novels :)
Who keeps moving this article to the wrong flaming location? In historical naming (which Wikipedia as a matter of policy follows), consorts of kings and ex-kings revert to the pre-marital name on death. Hence Mary of Teck, Catherine of Aragon, Alexandra of Greece, Frederika of Hanover, Blanche of Castile, Catherine of Braganza, etc. Wives who married ex-kings are treated similarly because articles on their husbands often use their regnal name so it makes writing text difficult if they then are referred to by post-marital name when all others in the series are at pre-marital name. As wives of ex-kings they also have a higher status than wives of princes and peers, because many ex-kings, particularly if deposed and a republic declared, are often described as King x of y as a courtesy title for the remainder of their lifetime. Other times, where they have abdicated freely they are described as ex-King x of y. They do not revert to personal name or title unless a new king is reigning. By the way, to sort out the mess quadruple redirects had to be fixed, and triple directs. It is bad enough putting the article in the wrong naming format repeatedly without then making it unusable because much of its links are screwed up.
Also, the claim that the Duke of Windsor was a peer is wrong. He was a royal peer but as an ex-king was treated as superior to all royal peers in forms of diplomatic and historical usage, given that he once a king. FearÉIREANNCoat of arms of Ireland.svg\(caint) 00:21, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

When Wallis married the ex-king, he already was ex, and was Duke of Windsor. She was thus the wife of a guy who held substantive title of peerage and THEY WERE KNOWN under that name and title. Our usage has been not to revert deceased wives of peers to their pre-marital names, they remain in their consort name. Wallis, Duchess of Windsor is the heading in accordance with that. Otherwise, for example Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, Wallis' sister-in-law, gets moved to Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott, and dizens of other ladies too.

Regarding the usual pontificating (an misrepresentation-prone) rambling by Jtdirl above, there are plenty of points in his writings themselves that contradict his position, and additionally some of his allegations are untrue, some are false analogies, etc. How typical. Having seen that behavior in several incidents, I must wonder whether he himself understands what he is doing, or is even his comprehension defective nowadays. One of the misrepresentations above is the allegation that "wives of ex-kings" are treated similarly as wives of reigning kings. That reads not in any of NCs here, it apparently comes from thin air. And: Edward was treated and called as Duke of Windsor in diplomatic usage. Not as ex-king, which would have been undiplomatic towards his reigning brother. Mary of Teck, Catherine of Aragon, Frederika of Hanover, Blanche of Castile, Catherine of Braganza were not wives of ex-kings ever. False analogy. Alexandra of Greece was wife of Peter II at the time Peter was reigning king, later they together became ex-king and ex-queen. Despite of which, Jtdirl himself in 2003 wanted to make her here Princess Alexandra of Greece, treating her differently than deceased consorts of reigning kings. Anyway, false analogy, as Wallis married ex-king after abdication, Alexandra on the contrary was queen in the very real reign of her husband. Wallis could be better (but not fully) likened to the morganatic wife of Franz Ferdinand of Austria, or with the second wife of Grand Duke Constantin Pavlovich of Russia (who, after all, renounced as did Edward). Wallis as wife of ex-king had no higher status than a duchess consort, and she was well KNOWN as Duchess of Windsor. You know, she did not even become HRH. Where then is her purported "higher" status, in reality as opposite to someone's imagination? Edward VIII was not referred as King of anything in the remainder of his life, not as courtesy nor as a pretension. Reality check, please. Untrue allegations do not help here. He reverted to another name (title, D of W) precisely because another was already reigning - Jtdirl, please read yourself what you write. 01:32, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

I agree with 217 here - Wallis was not a consort of a reigning monarch, or even of a pretender (as, for instance, Anne of Bourbon-Parma is (although, being still alive, she should probably be at Queen Anne of Romania, shouldn't she?) She was the consort of an abdicated monarch, where somebody else had become monarch, and who was himself no longer known as "King Edward VIII." I see no reason not to put her at Wallis, Duchess of Windsor. She is best known as the Duchess of Windsor, it may be added, and wives of peers normally go under their peerage title. john k 02:02, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

  • I agree with the article being at Wallis, Duchess of Windsor. Astrotrain 19:10, August 16, 2005 (UTC)
  • Yes, Wallis, Duchess of Windsor. --StanZegel 23:15, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
  • Excuse me, no. "Wallis, Duchess of Windsor", is not a title by which she was commonly known. If we are going down that road, we may as well call her by her full name of "Bessiewallis" in the title of the article. She is, and always has been, most commonly known as "Wallis Simpson". It seems to me that she cannot be held subject to naming conventions in the normal way because her position was quite unprecedented. Deb 21:38, 20 August 2005 (UTC)
If we substitute "Fergie" for "Wallis Simpson", and "Sarah, Duchess of York" for "Wallis, Duchess of Windsor" would you accept the same rule? After all, she is "most commonly known" as Fergie, isn't she? I suspect, looking at the positions taken so far and the locations of those editors, that different POV enters into here based upon which side of the Atlantic Ocean one is on. In Britain, "she stole our king" and folks begrudged her the title that King George VI allowed. In the USA, she was "local girl makes good" and folks were proud of her rise in status and did use her title, and that is how most folks refer to her here nowadays. --StanZegel 00:13, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
It is perfectly simple. As a divorced royal consort, she is referred to as Sarah, Duchess of York. When she dies as in normal royal naming she would be referred to as Sarah Ferguson. Fergie is just a nickname and can no more be used than W can for George W. Bush. FearÉIREANNCoat of arms of Ireland.svg\(caint) 00:18, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
Since you just implicitly consented to it, I think we should go and move Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester to Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott. Or should we, Jtdirl? 08:26, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
Even you must be aware that this is a completely false comparison, Mr Arrigo. Deb 15:10, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
  • Deb is 100% right. According to google, Wallis Simpon produces 32,800 links [1]. Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, when Wikipedia is excluded, produces a whopping total of 540 links. [2] This article here is at a ludicrous and frankly ridiculous name. FearÉIREANNCoat of arms of Ireland.svg\(caint) 23:14, 20 August 2005 (UTC)
Using the same sort of test (the formal colloquial name vs Wikipedia standard name), "Franz Joseph" (excluding Haydn, etc) produces 96,000 links, and "Franz Joseph I of Austria" produces a whopping total of 494 links. We need to be sure to do to the Franz Joseph article the same as is done to this one, if the Googlecount Standard is to replace the Wikipedia Policies. --StanZegel 00:26, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
This is not what I'm saying. Aside from the fact that "Wallis Simpson" is not a "colloquial name" but a real name, we need to think before we start moving things around - otherwise we end up with a repeat of the Alix of Hesse problem. Deb 15:13, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

WP at the end of November/start of December 2005 changed its naming policy on consorts slightly. Previously it used as disambigulation <first name>, <disambigulation title of peerage>. However this was controversial as it that matched the real life version used by divorced wives of peers, and so created the impression that the person was an ex-wife, not current wife. A proposal was made by a user to vary the disambigulation slightly, to <first name>, <actual peerage title>. There was practically full unanimity to make this move. Pages were all changed. It seems this slipped through the net and inadvertently remained at the old format which was open to the interpretation that Wallis was the ex-wife of the Duke of Windsor (if they had divorced, her title would have been Wallis, Duchess of Windsor). I've moved the page to confirm with all the others other users moved in early December. Under the new format, <first name>, <actual peerage title> produces Wallis, The Duchess of Windsor. (I'm not sure I agree with the capital in The but that seems to be what the consensus wanted, and was used elsewhere, so I guess this page has to fit the pattern too.)

Re opening paragraph, again a structural agreement was reached to use accuracy rather than made-up disambigulation. So instead of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall that article begins The Duchess of Cornwall (names . . . ). I'm following that same format too, as Wallis was not formally Wallis, Duchess of Windsor but simply The Duchess of Windsor. It makes sense that all consort biographies follow the same format rather than each make up their own. FearÉIREANNIreland-Capitals.PNG\(caint) 21:44, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Surely she should be WALLIS SIMPSON as a deceased royal consort (like Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott, Mary of Teck etc)

I don't think this should be "Wallis, The Duchess of Windsor" like Camilla is titled "Camilla The Duchess of Cornwall". Wallis is dead - "The" implies she's living (except "the" with a small "t" since thats a common noun not a proper noun). See Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire - she's not "Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire" since THE Duchess of Devonshire is Amanda Cavendish who is living. She should be Wallis, Duchess of Windsor as she is dead. Compare also "Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester" - she's not "Princess Alice, THE Duchess of Gloucester".

They are known like that to disambigulate former duchesses from the current one. There is no current Duchess of Windsor so such disambigulation is unnecessary here. FearÉIREANNIreland-Capitals.PNG\(caint) 20:34, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Yes but saying Wallis, Duchess of Windsor invariably implies she IS divorced (which she was not). This is the same in the case of Diana, Princess of Wales. Diana was not The Princess of Wales when she died and as such the definite article must be used in the circumstances of titles for deceased persons. Princess Alice, the Duchess of Gloucester is correct just as Diana, Princess of Wales is correct (as it reflects what they were at the time). Suggesting something like that would be like making an article denying the title The Princess Alice to Princess Alice because it implies she is alive.

I'm running into difficulties, at FAC because the page is named anomalously. I'm going to move it to: "Wallis, Duchess of Windsor" per User:John Kenney, User:Astrotrain, User:StanZegel, User:Jdforrester, User: and User:Giano. DrKay 08:14, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

I suppose I would start an even bigger to-do if I removed the "Bessiewallis" bit, because that is an urban legend....? I will do more solid research & come back if I find I have impeccable sources.FlaviaR 06:33, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

I had never heard of Wallis Warfield until today! It's Wallis Simpson to the rest of the world! Ludicrous! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:51, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

Lame fame[edit]

I hereby suggest that the war over moving this article be propositioned to inclusion into the Wikipedia:Lamest edit wars ever. The basic criterion there is "if the war is of silly cause" and further signals are "edits are trivial", "warring shows pettiness"... The candidature will be immensely strengthened if other issues (such as other articles) are absorbed into the same war, if an involved admin either protects, or otherwise uses admin features in the war. A block administered by an involved sysop against some opponent also helps to get the place in the hall of fame. Should we all work towards having this included there? 10:25, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

The best idea you've had so far is that you should spend the majority of your time playing around with the Wikipedia:Lamest edit wars ever article, while the rest of us get on with some real work. Deb 15:15, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

Chronology of Names[edit]

OK, somebody please set me straight here. When married to Ernest Simpson, she was Mrs Ernest Simpson. When they divorced, she was Mrs Wallis Simpson. OK so far. But when did she ever become known as "Mrs Wallis Warfield", either between her second divorce and her marriage to Edward, or at any other time? I thought Edward married "Mrs Simpson", not anybody Warfield. Warfield was her maiden name, so adding Mrs to it doesn't sound right at all. Her father's wife would have been Mrs Warfield, but not Bessiewallis. JackofOz 07:11, 31 August 2005 (UTC)

  • "Ms" wasn't in common use back then. Married women who did keep their maiden name used either Miss or Mrs (often shifting to Mrs as they got older or had children). She re-adopted her maiden name only a few weeks before the wedding to avoid having her ex-husband's name on the marriage certificate. Even today I know married women who kept their maiden names and use Mrs.
She not only readopted her maiden name, it was restored to her via deed poll, ie legally, therefore wiping away the Simpson surname. And she used, as per usual society honorific at the time, Mrs. Mowens35 17:44, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

Title when in the Bahamas[edit]

The article says that when Edward governed the Bahamas 1940-45, she was known as "Her Excellency Wallis Windsor". Is this right? Surely she would have been Her Excellency the Duchess of Windsor, just as Edward was His Excellency the Duke of Windsor, not His Excellency Edward Windsor. Cheers JackofOz 05:55, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

I've amended the text to say that, while she was technically entitled to "Her Excellency" as the wife of a governor, this was subsumed by "Her Grace". I've removed all reference to "Wallis Windsor", unless somebody can come up with evidence that she was actually known by that name while in the Bahamas. I strongly doubt it. JackofOz 05:46, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
A royal governor is always styled by his royal style as a member of the Royal Family. Thus the Duke of Windsor would never have been styled His Excellency in the Bahamas. It is harder to say what Wallis was styled as she was denied by letters patent, the HRH style and was only entitled to Her Grace. However Edward always styled her Royal highness anyway, offically she was still Her Grace. Astrotrain 17:38, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

Quoting from Valentine Heywood and Gerald Wollaston, Garter Principal King of Arms 1930-44 (British Titles published by Adam and Charles Black, London, 1951) p.156: 'A Governor is styled "His Excellency"...Wives of Governors are not normally accorded the style...if the holders of any of the above offices are Princes or Dukes they take the style of their rank. Thus the Duke of Windsor was "His Royal Highness the Governor" and the Duke of Abercorn (Governor of Northern Ireland) "His Grace the Governor".' DrKay 10:35, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

Also, Sarah Bradford in her biography George VI (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1989; p.441) says that the Secretary of State for the Colonies George Lloyd, 1st Baron Lloyd sent instructions to Government House, Nassau that 'the Duke should be addressed as "Your Royal Highness" and the Duchess as "Your Grace".' DrKay 14:45, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Her Grace or Royal Highness?[edit]

Wallis was never styled "Her Royal Higness", except in an unofficial capacity within her own household (ie servants would address he as HRH). From her marriage until her death she was "Her Grace the Duchess of Windsor" not HRH the Duchess of Windsor. (Alphaboi867 23:55, 3 June 2006 (UTC))

Although denied the HRH explicitly by letters patent, surely Wallis was still a Princess of The United Kingdom by virtue of being married to a Prince? Her husband was H.R.H. The Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor - so was she not Her Grace The Princess Edward, Duchess of Windsor?

  • Yes and no. Strictly speaking, you are correct that she was a Princess of the UK in right of her husband and because Edward's wife was not expressly deprived of that rank by Royal Prerogative. The Letters Patent depriving Edward's (future) wife of the right to be styled Royal Highness were drawn with surgical precision: the exact terms were used that would suffice to prevent her from being addressed as if royal -- and no more. Because there is no legal provision or tradition in the UK for referring to the wife of a royal duke as "Princess Husbandsfirstname", Wallis had no right to assume it. Even though her rank as a royal princess remained, the only way the style that goes with that rank has ever been publicly manifested -- and therefore the only way in which court tradition honors it -- is in the form "HRH the Duchess of X". Attempting to use it in any other fashion would have encroached upon the Royal Prerogative. Wallis could not adopt such a style without appearing to directly defy her husband's sovereign, on whose authority any rank at court (as distinct from in Parliament) rested. Had she done so, her defiance would have invited the King to issue a clarifying royal warrant, something to the effect of "The lawful wives of royal dukes shall be known by the feminine form of their husbands' style of Royal Highness and ducal title, except as otherwise stipulated" which would have explicitly, humiliatingly declared the use of "Princess Husbandsfirstname" out-of-bounds by Britain's legal fons honorum. None of that happened, of course, because Edward knew the Rules and, resentment aside, abided by them. Had the use of her residual title of princess been considered a possibility, no doubt the LP restricting the HRH to Edward would also have restricted the "Prince" to Edward: royal titles and styles, unlike peerages and constitutional titles (e.g. Queen consort), are within the monarch's gift. Note that in his 4 May 1937 request to his Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, George VI insists not merely upon ensuring that Wallis does not enjoy the HRH, but that she not be considered royal at all. He didn't need to strip her of her "princesshood" to do that, he had merely to prevent her from using it: "Is she a fit and proper person to become a Royal Highness after what she has done in this country; and would the country understand it if she became one automatically on marriage?...I and my family and Queen Mary all feel that it would be a great mistake to acknowledge Mrs Simpson as a suitable person to become Royal. The Monarchy has been degraded quite enough already." Of course, it is widely believed (accurately or not) that within his own house and circle, Wallis was accorded all the deference and styling due a royal duchess anyway -- but never, officially, at his brother's court or in his realms. Lethiere 04:13, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
I am all confused. By the time Wallis married Edward, he had already abdicated. So he was no longer a Prince or a King. He was created a Duke. If he was no longer a Prince, how would Wallis have any rights to being a Princess? Could anyone please explain to this befuddled American? 08:59, 17 September 2006 (UTC) Allen Roth
Edward VIII abdicated the position and title of "King". He did not renounce (and was not explicitly deprived of) the title of "Prince" or the style of "Royal Highness" which, according to Letters Patent of 1917, continued to belong to him as son of a (late) British sovereign. (However, it has recently been revealed that, at the time, some legal and other experts of the Government of the day did express the opinion that such styles implicitly belong only to {some of} those who are in the line of succession to the British throne and that since, following abdication, Edward was no longer in that order, he had automatically forfeited his royal styles. But because, by decision of George VI, he was referred to publicly as "HRH The Prince Edward" from the moment of abdication, it would have been embarrassing and mean-spirited to retroactively deny him that title in order to deny it to his future wife. So some other way was sought, and was found: See 1937 Letters Patent). By custom (and some would say, in common law), if Edward reverted to being a prince after abdicating, anyone he married would become a princess and HRH. A few months after the abdication, Edward was created Duke of Windsor. That title did not cancel or replace his princely styles, but was added to them, although that fact was not apparent because, by tradition, once a prince is granted a peerage, he no longer uses his princely title. Thus, he went from being referred to as "HRH Prince Edward of the United Kingdom..." to "HRH the Duke of Windsor". Shortly before Edward married Mrs. Simpson, LPs were issued restricting use of the style HRH to Edward alone, explicitly denying it to any future wife and children.Lethiere 11:27, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
That helps somewhat; thank you. However, I'm still confused about this: Why, during his life after abdication, was he then called the Duke of Windsor, and not "Prince Edward?" And also, if he retained the title of prince, what would it have been: Prince Edward what? One would think that "Prince" is a higher rank than "Duke." I guess I thought that he lost the title "Prince" upon abdication; it went with "King." 14:59, 17 September 2006 (UTC) Allen Roth
As stated earlier, it is customary for a royal duke to drop his princely designation, which is implicit through the use of HRH but not explicit in use. It it rather like a hidden title, true in actuality but never used in reality when paired with a royal dukedom. I hope I got that right.Mowens35 17:42, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
I think I will quit right about here. This is worse than trying to make sense of the 'von/zu' distinction among the minor Prussian nobility. It's alot easier in my country: You either have money, or you don't.:) 16:17, 19 September 2006 (UTC) Allen Roth

When Wallis married Prince Edward, the King Goerge VI using letters patent,prevented Wallis from using the style of Her Royal Highness, thats why she was styled only as WALLIS, DUCHESS OF WINDSOR. With no style. She cant get the style YOUR GRACE, beacuse The Duke of Windsor was a ROYAL PRINCE.

I believe you are incorrect. During her lifetime she was officially styled "Her Grace the Duchess of Windsor", as all Duchesses of England, Scotland, Ireland and the UK are entitled to the style of "Your Grace" unless they divorce, or are superceded by a superior title such as "Your Royal Highness". DrKay 09:21, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

Until we can resolve this issue with an appropriate reference I have suggested a compromise of "The Duchess of Windsor" with no style. DrKay 09:57, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

I just thought that I should point out among all of these other arguments that there is a very simple stlye that is incorrectly being used again and again - Wallis, Duchess of Windsor. The correct form for a duchess (normally living) is The Duchess of X. A christian name preceeded by this, i.e., Sarah, Duchess of Malborough is only used to denote dowagers (widows) and the former spouses of a peer. Sarah, Duchess of York is correct as she is the divorced wife of a peer as is Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire as the widow of the previous duke (she may also choose to be known simply as The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire.) However, these styles are only used to distinguish between a previous and incumbant holder of such a title. As there has been no other - nor will there be in the forseeable future - Duchesses of Windsor, Wallis Simpson should simply be known as THE DUCHESS OF WINDSOR. For support of this and further reading I would direct all of you to either Burke's or Debrette's Perrage. Bearing this in mind i think that all instances of Wallis, Duchess of Windsor should be cleared up. JYBenton 05:52, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

We've already been through all this. You are correct that the style used officially in her lifetime was "The Duchess of Windsor". But the name engraved on her tombstone (by order of the Queen, who should know these things) is "Wallis, Duchess of Windsor". Besides this, the name of this article and the style used in the text of the article does not reflect official styles or royal preference, it reflects wikipedia policy. DrKay 08:17, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

I quote Valentine Heywood's 1951 book "British Titles: The Use and Misuse of the Titles of Peers and Commoners, with Some Historical Notes", endorsed and with a forward by Sir Gerald Wollaston, Garter Principal King of Arms 1930-44:

'The view I then expressed was that as all the peerage titles he had formerly held had been extinguished by his succession to the throne, the King reverted to the state in which he had been born, i.e. His Royal Highness and a Prince of Great Britain...Sir John Reith introduced him to the world as "His Royal Highness Prince Edward". I think it can be taken for granted that the then Director-General of the British Broadcasting Corporation was not speaking without having sought advice and received authority...though only an Act of Parliament can take a peerage away from a person1, it is for the Sovereign to decide who shall or shall not have the princely style and title...A Duchess should be addressed formally as "Your Grace" or "Madam", and informally as "Dear Duchess of Blank" or "Dear Duchess".'

DrKay 12:35, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

1Note that he was writing in 1951, before the Peerage Act 1963.

The Crown in Parliament can do anything, unless an act or treaty is entrenched with words such a s "forever", as parts of the act of union were. Furthermore, the Crown can issue and revoke letters patent as desired. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 02:45, 11 January 2007

Not true, there are many acts that include exactly that language but have been repealed. The Irish/British Act of Union reads Article 1: that the said Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland shall, upon the 1st day of January... forever after, be united into one Kingdom As to LPs it depends on what the LP does. LP creating a peerage can't be revoked without an AoP. Alci12 14:23, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

Michael Thornton, in his book 'Royal Feud' makes it quite clear that Wallis Simpson became a 'Royal Highness' on her marriage by virtue of the Common Law rule that wives take the rank, title and style of their hisband. See As it stands, the Wikipedia article is quite simply wrong. I intend to amend the article accordingly but would welcome the views of others first. If there is no response then I will take it that other users agree.Nas gord (talk) 22:25, 23 October 2015 (UTC)

I am responding and I do object to any such amendment to this article. First, you are reviving this issue by nesting the discussion in an 8 year-old section of this talk page: it needs to be initiated in a new, separate section at the bottom of the current page, as is usual. Second, the article makes clear the history and basis of the decision and practice of withholding the style of Royal Highness (HRH) from the Duchess of Windsor, alluding to the extensive research and discussion of the matter that has now been made available to the public (in the form of Home Office notes from the National Archives) and added as a footnote to the article (that footnote, as of this writing #75 and in the Wallis Simpson#Third marriage: Duchess of Windsor section of this article, does need to be updated: I could not open it and see the discussion to which it alludes which can, however, be read in its entirety here). Retroactively according the Duchess of Windsor the HRH is to unilaterally re-write history, attributing to her a style that was not recognized or accorded by the Court of St. James's during or subsequent to her lifetime, nor by any other known legal or official entity, such as a UK embassy, nor generally by the media (it was, of course, used in the home and by the household she shared with the duke). On the strength of one author's opinion and in defiance of George VI's recorded wishes and the considered opinion of his Government, Wikipedia has no business redacting or "correcting" history. Nor has any current discussion or consensus transpired or been reflected here that justifies any editor, in the face of express objection, unilaterally editing the article to reflect a perspective on this matter different from that which has been maintained in stable form in this article for years. Please don't change the article to accord or assert the rightful claim to the Duchess of Windsor the style of HRH until and unless a consensus to that effect has been demonstrated on this talk page. FactStraight (talk) 01:08, 24 October 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for replying.

(1) The fact that an issue is 8 years old does not alter the truth. The truth is all that matters. In particular, the fact that an article has been wrong for years does not justify leaving it in that state. I am surprised that you adopted that argument. (2) It is not just one author's opinion (Michael Thornton). He quotes the editor of Burke's Peerage, the leading publication on peerage matters, as well as Debrett's (another leading peerage publication) and Lady Donaldson. In addition, if you read the correspondence at you will see that Sir Granville Ram, parliamentary counsel to the Treasury, as per his letter of 21/1/1937, and the Garter King of Arms, the leading heraldic authority, see the Attorney-General's letter of 26/5/1937, were quite clear that Wallis Simpson took the rank, title and style of her husband on marriage. The correspondence makes it quite clear that the authorities were looking for a way to deny Wallis Simpson the rank, title and style of her husband and that they took the illegal, illegitimate, nonsensical and, in fact, legally void step (see next para) of using the 'lineal succession' argument. (3) This is not a matter of correcting history. The whole point is that the purported deprivation of the style 'Royal Highness' was void in law; a nullity. In law it never happened, which means that, as a matter of fact (that is, as a matter of historical fact) Wallis Simpson actually was a 'Royal Highness' from the moment of her marriage until her death. Wikipedia needs to make this undoubted fact clear. I have cited a case from the Privy Council which makes it quite clear that, in the eyes of the law, a void act is something that not just has no effect in law; it did not happen in law and thus can have no legal consequences (that is, it does not alter the facts - in this case, the fact that Wallis Simpson was indeed a 'Royal Highness; not entitled to be called 'Royal Highness' but actually a 'Royal Highness'). (4) The facts are quite simple and clear. Nas gord (talk) 11:22, 26 October 2015 (UTC)

  1. The denial of the HRH style to the Duchess of Windsor and to any children or grandchildren born of her marriage to the Duke is reflected in Wikipedia in accordance with the authorities who imposed that restriction (King George VI, his Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and the Cabinet of the day). Whatever opinion of that action may be expressed in subsequent literature would have to also be promulgated by a source of comparable or higher authority to be in effect.
  2. I concur that the then Parliamentary Counsel Sir Granville Ram and Garter, Sir Gerald Woods Wollaston, dissented from the view that the style of HRH could lawfully be withheld from the Duchess. But their view, although considered by the other participating members of the Cabinet, did not prevail against those of the King, the Prime Minister and the rest of the Cabinet, and so lacks the authority to void the restriction imposed by the letters patent issued in the matter.
  3. I also concur that the Cabinet actively sought a rationale and process to implement the wishes of the King, Queen and Queen Mary in this matter, who expressly wanted to withhold the HRH from Mrs. Simpson upon her marriage to the Duke. But in no way does that de-legitimise, let alone nullify, the action taken by the Cabinet in this matter -- quite the contrary.
  4. There is no parliamentary legislation or decided precedent governing use of the style HRH in the UK, as there is with peerage titles and precedence: as noted repeatedly in the Cabinet's discussions, such styles have been accorded at the pleasure of the sovereign as the UK's fount of honour or by custom, which is likewise subject to the monarch's will. Insofar as there may be disagreement about whether and to what degree HRH is governed by unwritten English common law, the authorities recognised in the UK as sources for interpretation and/or application of common law have, in this instance, been either silent or expressed by King, Prime Minister and Cabinet in the letters patent of May 1937.
  5. On 26 May 1937 the Cabinet convened and took up the matter of the HRH for the Duke of Windsor (then still a bachelor) and any future wife or descendants he might have. The result of their deliberations were communicated that day by Prime Minister Baldwin to King George VI.
  6. Pursuant to receiving the advice of his Prime Minister, on 27 May 1937 the King signed and issued letters patent which concluded "Now Know Ye that We of our especial grace certain knowledge and mere motion Do hereby declare Our Royal Will and Pleasure that Our Brother Edward having been born in the lineal succession to the Crown shall, notwithstanding his exclusion from the succession as aforesaid, be entitled to hold and enjoy the said style title or attribute of Royal Highness and that by reason of the said exclusion His Wife and Children, if any, and the Children of His Sons, if any, shall not have the said style title or attribute."
  7. Those letters patent had the effect of affirming use of the style HRH for the Duke of Windsor, while withholding use thereof from the subsequent Duchess of Windsor. Those letters patent remain unrevoked to my knowledge. But if a British court having jurisdiction, a parliamentary act or a decree issued subsequently by a British sovereign or prime minister has addressed this matter, amending or voiding the letters patent of 27 May 1937, I would very much be interested in reviewing any such finding.
  8. Wikipedia expressly rejects the use of synthesis in content, that is, it is unacceptable to treat as established fact the application of a general principle (e.g. "a wife takes her husband's status") cited in a reliable source (e.g. a text on English common law) and applied in the voice of Wikipedia to a specific instance (e.g., Duchess of Windsor), when that source does not include or refer specifically to that instance. As mentioned, any authoritative declaration in this matter is relevant and includable, but non-authoritative interpretations are opinions, howsoever expert, and do not override acts of government unless and until some branch of government with relevant jurisdiction declares their applicability. FactStraight (talk) 04:11, 28 October 2015 (UTC)

I note your comments. The question is whether we are allowed to even mention the fact that there is a question or debate on the issue. Frankly, what is odd is that ANY mention of a question or debate is not tolerated. Many people would be interested to learn about the clearly spiteful, unlawful and behind-the-scenes actions of the establishment in order to deny Wallis Simpson a title that she was clearly entitled to in law. What are your motives I ask myself. The article gives a false impression that she was not entitled to the title. Why do you prefer falsehood over truth? I am intrigued. Nas gord (talk) 18:59, 4 February 2016 (UTC)

Lead image[edit]

Portrait of Mrs. Wallis Simpson in 1936
Portrait of HG The Duchess of Windsor in 1970

I am not convinced that the article's current lead image is the best choice. The quality of the image is poor and it certainly doesn't depict the Duchess at the moment when she was in the spotlight. The image from 1936, when her romance with Edward caused Edward VIII abdication crisis and made her notable, would be better. It is also the most popular image of Wallis. Surtsicna (talk) 17:17, 5 September 2009 (UTC)

I absolutely agree. DrKay (talk) 07:11, 25 August 2015 (UTC)

Deletions of my 11 July 2015 good faith edits[edit]

@DrKay: Do you ever constructively contribute to Wikipedia articles, or do you just pick at, parse, and try to deconstruct the good faith efforts of others, with minimal, fairly lame, or no explanations? I will probably not attempt any more runs at improving or enhancing this Wallis Simpson entry, as you seem to claim proprietary rights to it, and won't countenance trespassers. Professor JR (talk) 19:06, 11 July 2015 (UTC)

As I explained in the edit summary, your additions are not improvements. For example, this edit incorrectly implies that her husband was Mr Edward Windsor, when he was both a prince and a duke at the time of their marriage, and adds more details about him to the opening paragraph of the lead. The article, and particularly the lead and more especially the first paragraph, should focus on the topic of the article not a different person nor should it go into unnecessary and irrelevant details such as the full formal name of the United Kingdom. DrKay (talk) 21:28, 11 July 2015 (UTC)