Echoes from the past

Meghan Markle and Wallis Simpson's Similarities and Differences

Meghan Markle and Wallis Simpson's Similarities and Differences

When Meghan wore her beautiful dress during the infamous Oprah with Meghan and Harry interview, many noticed the similarity between one of Wallis Simpson's dresses she wore in a well-known portrait. Now the countless have been comparing the Duchess of Sussex to the Duchess of Windsor. We have broken down the similarities and differences between the two.

Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex has been the subject of tabloid fodder for years now. Now many are attempting to label Meghan as the modern Wallis Simpson.

Wallis Simpson's romance with King Edward VIII in the 1930s shook up the royal lineage. The gorgeous and charming American had two living ex-husbands so Edward could not marry her while he held the throne. The two were passionately in love but she did not want to harm the monarchy so she told Edward not to marry her but ultimately, the choice was his. 

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Instrument of Abdication of Edward VIII of England executed by him 10 December 1936, by which he and any of his children are excluded from succession to the throne.

King Edward abdicated the throne to marry "the woman I love" and then became the Duke of Windsor while his brother George (Queen Elizabeth II's father) became King. The two had a long and beautiful romance and maintained a close relationship with the crown throughout their lives.

Meghan Markle and Wallis Simpson Similarities

Prince Harry, like his great uncle, also "stepped back" from his senior royal position. Although his reasoning was vastly different, many have been comparing the two for leaving royal life for an American woman. Both Meghan and Wallis had been previously divorced but only King Edward was not permitted to marry a divorcée while holding the throne. 

Both Wallis and Meghan became the focus of tabloid fodder, covering newspaper headlines daily. Wallis told her close friend in Town & Country magazine that the attention made her wish she could "run away and hide." When her friend said: "Whether you like it or not, the world is discovering you," Wallis responded with: "Discovering me? You mean destroying me."

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Newspaper Headlines In London, December 3, 1936.

Meghan has shared similar sentiments, once telling British Journalist Tom Bradby that her friends were happy for her when she began dating Harry "because I was so happy" but her "British friends said to me: 'I'm sure he's great. But you shouldn't do it because the British tabloids will destroy your life.'"

The BBC remarked in 2020 that "Both King Edward and Harry were playful, popular princes who fell in love with an independent American woman who ends up vilified by a hostile British press."

Meghan Markle and Wallis Simpson Differences

Prince Harry is not a King so he was permitted to marry a divorcée: Meghan Markle. Their union was even a major royal event with the entire royal family in attendance, while at Wallis and Edward's 1937 wedding, not a single royal attended.

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Duke and Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson Edward VIII.

Meghan and Wallis received vastly different types of attacks from the media. British history professor Olivette Otele remarked that the difference between the two is that "One was a socialite, and the other is an independent, successful woman who has relied on her own income to make a living. Wallis Simpson, of course, she was mistreated by the British press, but it was never to the same extent." Meghan regularly received and receives "veiled and overt racist attacks" from the media.

Wallis was in fact a well-known socialite and had actually met Edward while she was still married to her previous husband Ernest Aldrich Simpson. Meghan, on the other hand, had been divorced for quite some time before she was set up on a blind date with Prince Harry. She was also independently successful with an impressive career established in the US that she gave up to join her husband in the United Kingdom. 

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Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex at the two-game series between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox at London Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, east London on June 29, 2019.

Also, Wallis and Edward never had any children while Meghan and Harry have had son Archie and daughter Lilibet Diana together. Edward and Wallis continued their socialite living while Harry and Meghan immediately continued their vast charity work both publicly and privately. 

While many parallels can be seen between the two, there are just as many and perhaps even more differences between the two.