Wallis Simpson (born Bessie Wallis Warfield; 19 June 1896 – 24 April 1986), later known as the Duchess of Windsor, was an American socialite whose intended marriage to the British king Edward VIII caused a constitutional crisis that led to Edward's abdication.
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. Five years later, after Edward's accession as King of the United Kingdom, Wallis divorced her second husband to marry Edward.
The King's desire to marry a woman who had two living ex-husbands threatened to cause a constitutional crisis in the United Kingdom and the Dominions, and 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, King George VI. Wallis married Edward six months later, after which she was formally known as the Duchess of Windsor, but was not allowed to share her husband's style of "Royal Highness".
Before, during, and after the Second World War, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were suspected by many in government and society of being Nazi sympathisers. In 1937, they visited Germany and met Adolf Hitler. In 1940, the Duke was appointed 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. Her private life has been a source of much speculation, and she remains a controversial figure in British history.