I am sometimes asked the question about Wallis Simpson who was born at Monterey Pass. Simpson seems to the name that many locals go by when referring to Bessie Wallis Warfield. Early in life, she actually dropped her first name and went with her middle name Wallis. After doing a quick internet search, I decided to compile some basic facts about this very educated lady that was later in life known as the Duchess of Windsor. It is because of her third marriage, that many older residents her in Blue Ridge Summit remember this celebrity, although, she had ties to the Fascists Party of Italy and was also accused of ties with the NAZI Party. So who was Wallis Simpson?
Bessie Wallis Warfield was born on June 19, 1896 in the small cottage house located near the Monterey Inn. Her family were prominent citizens of Baltimore, Maryland and visited the area during the summer months. During her youth, she attended Oldfields School, one of the most expensive schools in Maryland. It was said she was very bright and smart. She became close to the Du Pont family through her friend and school mate, Renée du Pont.
In November of 1916, Wallis married U.S. Navy aviator Earl W. Spencer Jr. Her life of traveling and the Great War took a toll on their marriage. She had grown unhappy. It was during this period she met Galeazzo Ciano, Benito Mussolini’s son-in-law and the two had an affair. Although, Edda Mussolini, wife of Ciano denied the affair that her husband had, Wallis made her way back to the United States. After being separated for some time, Wallis divorced her husband in December of 1927. After her divorce, Wallis married Ernest Aldrich Simpson in July of 1928.
After being introduced by a friend and mistress, Wallis met Edward, the Prince of Whales. Soon afterward, she became his mistress, which Prince Edward quickly denied. When Prince Edward became King, Wallis had already begun proceedings for a divorce from her second husband which was granted in October of 1936.
By December of 1936, King Edward announced that he was stepping down as King. He gave up the throne in order to marry Wallis. Several months later in June of 1937, the couple were married. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor took up residence in France. In 1937, the couple met German Dictator Adolf Hitler. Upon the out break of World War Two, and the German Invasion of France, the couple fled from France. The couple eventually wound up in Bahamas, where her husband became the governor.
After World War Two, her reputation in England had fallen and she was heavily criticized for her luxury shopping habits, and tours she and her husband took during the Second World War. They eventually moved back to France where they lived out the rest of their lives. The Duke of Windsor died in 1972. The Duchess herself eventually suffered from dementia. The Duchess of Windsor died on April 24, 1986 at her home at Bois de Boulogne, Paris, France.
The Monterey Inn and the cottage where Wallis was born, no longer stands. Today, two private homes set upon the site where Wallis was born.