EDWARD VIII (Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David), born on this date, was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Empire and Emperor of India from 20 January 1936 until his abdication in December of the same year.
Edward was born during the reign of his great-grandmother Queen Victoria as the eldest child of the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George V and Queen Mary. He was created Prince of Wales on his 16th birthday, seven weeks after his father succeeded as king. As a young man, Edward served in the British Army during the First World War and undertook several overseas tours on behalf of his father. While Prince of Wales, he engaged in a series of sexual affairs that worried both his father and then-British prime minister Stanley Baldwin.
Edward became king on his father’s death. As king, he showed impatience with court protocol, and caused concern among politicians by his apparent disregard for established constitutional conventions. Only months into his reign, a constitutional crisis was caused by his proposal to marry Wallis Simpson, an American who had divorced her first husband and was seeking a divorce from her second. The prime ministers of the United Kingdom and the Dominions opposed the marriage, arguing a divorced woman with two living ex-husbands was politically and socially unacceptable as a prospective queen consort. Additionally, such a marriage would have conflicted with Edward’s status as titular head of the Church of England, which, at the time, disapproved of remarriage after divorce if a former spouse was still alive. Edward knew the Baldwin government would resign if the marriage went ahead, which could have forced a general election and would have ruined his status as a politically neutral constitutional monarch. When it became apparent he could not marry Wallis and remain on the throne, he abdicated. He was succeeded by his younger brother, George VI. With a reign of 326 days, Edward is the shortest-reigning monarch of the United Kingdom.
After his abdication, Edward was created Duke of Windsor. He married Wallis in France in June 1937, after her second divorce became final. Later that year, the couple toured Nazi Germany. During the Second World War, Edward was at first stationed with the British Military Mission to France, but after private accusations that he was a Nazi sympathizer, he was appointed Governor of the Bahamas. After the war, Edward spent the rest of his life in France. He and Wallis remained married until his death in 1972. Wallis died 14 years later.
The Duke had many strange proclivities, particularly in the area of sex. In terms of his marriage, that was also a far more complex affair than met the eye. For while Edward undoubtedly loved Wallis, his definition of love didn’t include fidelity. And fortunately for them both, hers allegedly didn’t either.
Edward’s equerry at the time he gave up the throne, Dudley Forwood, revealed to author, Charles Higham, shortly before his death in Higham’s Duchess of Windsor: The Secret Life that, starting in the early ’20s, and lasting through his courtship of Mrs. Simpson and the first years of his marriage, Edward also fell in love and had a secret affair with his male equerry, Edward “Fruity” Metcalfe. It didn’t take long, however, for the court to figure out the true nature of their attachment when it was initiated, according to Forwood. Word soon got back to George V, who fired Metcalfe immediately. The Prince of Wales not only retaliated by hiring his lover back, but at twice his original salary, which Edward paid for personally. Higham also insinuates later in his book that openly gay American socialite Jimmy Donahue, long rumored to have had an affair only with the Duchess of Windsor, in fact engaged in a ménage a trois with them both. Furthermore, Higham asserts in his biography that Wallis’s sexual and romantic hold on Edward rarely involved actual sex. Edward was, according to Higham, instead a natural sadist and foot fetishist who preferred being dominated by his wife in various forms of pseudo sexual role play. This is among the reasons why their mutual friend, Kenneth de Courcey, described her role in the marriage, in the 1995 Channel 4 documentary, Edward, The Traitor King, as being tantamount to having been, “the great nanny of all time. She was a nanny!”
Insofar as the full range of Wallis’s sexual tastes were concerned, Higham provides a clue in his book when describing a curious episode that took place one evening many years after the abdication at the Windsors‘ Bois de Boulogne mansion in Paris when their friend, Diana Mosely, who related this account to Higham, noticed a photo of two women having sex on a beach displayed prominently in the Duchess of Windsor’s bedroom while she was passing through it in order to use Wallis’s restroom. When asked by her friend concerning why this curious depiction of sapphic love was part of her bedroom decor, the Duchess made the excuse that the photo reminded her of her favorite tale of the Greek god, Zeus, who delighted in disguising himself as a woman so that he might seduce lesbians he fancied. Made deeply uncomfortable, and probably suspicious, by the conversation, Diana quickly changed the subject.
When it came to actual sex, both the Duke and Duchess of Windsor have long been alleged by multiple reputable sources to have sought fulfillment outside of their marriage. One person who claims to have not only witnessed their mutual proclivities first hand, but to have aided, abetted, and participated in them, is the late, notorious Hollywood escort and pimp, Scotty Bowers. A World War II marine veteran who worked in Hollywood from the ’40s to the ’80s first as a gas station attendant, then as a bartender, Bowers claims to have moonlighted the entire time as both a male prostitute and proprietor of other male and female sex workers to various movie stars from Tinseltown’s golden age, such as Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, and Katherine Hepburn, among others. In 2012 he published his immensely entertaining memoir, Full Service: My Adventures In Hollywood And The Secret Sex Lives Of The Stars. And among the secret sex lives of the rich and famous he reveals in his tome are what he alleges to have been the true inclinations of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
Edward, according to Bowers, certainly wasted no time making his intentions known once they were introduced. After greeting him with a hearty handshake, and not minding when Scotty called him “Eddy,” the both soon after retreated to a bungalow on the estate where the Duke performed felatio on him. Describing Edward as a gentle, considerate lover, he implies in his memoir that the Duke preferred taking the active role in gay sex, often preferring a ménage a trois with two young men, which sometimes included Bowers himself. The scenario most favored by his royal clients was for Scotty to invite a party of nubile young male and female prostitutes to perform an orgy in front of the amused Duke and Duchess, who then would select a pair among them, Edward more often than not choosing a pair of male studs, while Wallis would always slip away with a couple of, usually dark haired, maidens for their own individual three ways. This author can’t help but find it curious that Bowers made no reference to the Duke’s long rumored lack of an endowment, but nonetheless implies as much by referring to him, in essence, and in what would be referred to in gay male sexual parlance, as “a gentle top”. According to Charles Higham, Thelma, Viscountess Furness, the married, American mistress Edward jilted for Wallis Simpson, sought revenge on her former royal lover by constantly referring to him, for the rest of her life, as “the little man”.
While Edward would occasionally select a woman to join him and Scotty for his delectation, Wallis’s inclinations, according to Bowers, were strictly sapphic.
And according to him, she never left a female lover unsatisfied, one of whom declaring to Scotty that Wallis’s oral skill had induced her to have more orgasms in one sitting than she’d ever had in her entire, professional sex working life! For despite the Duchess’s hideously masculine appearance, which only became worse as she got older, and led many to suspect she was born intersex, the former Wallis Simpson was renown throughout her life time for possessing the type of superlative oral and manual sexual skills, allegedly taught to her at various high end brothels in China while she lived there during her second marriage, that made it possible for her partners to enjoy both full erections and climaxes in her company, regardless of whether or not they found her alluring. Norman Lockridge claims in his book, Lese Majesty, The Private Lives of the Duke & Duchess of Windsor, published in 1952, that this was among the primary reasons why the deeply homophobic Edward VIII became so obsessed with Wallis, her bedroom skills enabling him to feel assured in his “manhood” that he could have fulfilling sex with a woman, all the while preferring other men. While much in Lockridge’s book remains speculative, it nonetheless deserves some credit for being the first published account of Edward VIII’s alleged homosexual leanings, which subsequent, more authoritative accounts have since corroborated. While Charles Higham describes the book in Duchess of Windsor: The Secret Life as “possessing a degree of readable scurrilousness,” he also states that at the time of its publication the Windsors didn’t sue its author for libel. Lockridge also alleges that, even at the height of the abdication crisis, he personally witnessed Edward VIII at a party on at least one occasion with a pair of effeminate chorus boy brothers who were known to be his secret lovers. Higham also asserts, through several on the record interviews from the Windsors’ friends, that Edward was suffering from a form of impotence at the time he met Wallis, at least with women, that her sexual ministrations relieved.”
Bowers avers his association with the Windsors lasted until the ’60s, and gives no indication he arranged entertainment for Wallis after Edward’s death in ’72. He describes them both as charming, sweet natured people who appreciated his services. While their marriage certainly couldn’t be called “the love story of the century” as it’s often mischaracterized, and what’s now known concerning their political inclinations certainly left much about Edward and Wallis to be morally desired, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were nonetheless two flawed people who found genuine joy and comfort in each other’s company. The fact that they occasionally needed the assistance of a bevy of nubile male and female prostitutes to achieve that joy is besides the point. They engaged in harmless fun with consenting adults. According to recently unearthed FBI interviews, that’s a great deal more than Edward’s cousin, the Earl Mountbatten of Burma could boast.
But that’s another story for another post.