The abdication of Britain's Edward VIII in 1936, just months into his reign, is one of the more remarkable and notorious episodes in the country's recent history. The sequence of events threatened a constitutional crisis at the time.
|Edward and Wallis talk about meeting, many years later|
Marrying a divorcee, Wallis Simpson, was not allowed for a UK monarch and the British government was not prepared to bend on the issue. Forced to choose, Edward married anyway and his brother became George VI.
There have been many takes on the events ranging from the straightforward, romantic view that forcing the choice was simply unfeeling to the more likely take that the government were only too happy to have the couple out of the way as they were suspected to have Nazi sympathies.
One view which might have been taken for granted was Wallis's own.
But now a documentary on Britain's Channel 4 next week appears to be set to reveal that she didn't want the wedding to go ahead either.
Some letters have come to light from Wallis, including those addressed to her second husband, Ernest Simpson, suggesting that she had never intended the affair to become so serious. Indeed she did not intend it to end her marriage.
"None of this mess and awakening emptiness is my doing," she wrote. Elsewhere she refers irritably to the childish Edward as 'Peter Pan'.
In another letter, she muses: "I miss you and worry about you. Wasn't life lovely, sweet and simple?"
The period generated collectibles which give an oblique take on events. In Canada, the 'dot cent' was generated to solve a currency shortage as it was suddenly realised that all the new Edward VIII coins were instantly obsolete.
At the other end of the scale, Wallis's jewellery collection is regarded as being one of the greatest in history, breaking records as it sold, as Edward showered her with gems in an attempt to keep her happy.
But these letters might be the most remarkable collectibles of all. Watch this space for more news on this extraordinary story.
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