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                Volume 10 |Issue 36 | September 23, 2011 |


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Soul-mates and Drossy Affairs

Shah Husain Imam

Wallace and Edward-A love that defied all social norms of the time. Photo: internet

Most romantic sagas with a claim to timelessness have had one common feature in their invariably sad endings. Some love declarations may have been pathetically unrequited. A sample is in a desperate plea of the unloved imploring of the other – “all I want to hear is just say, you love me, at least for once, and off I go.” Others may have had a happy beginning topped by a nuptial bonding, but not necessarily with a pleasant progression, nor perhaps any idyllic ending.

Love has been eulogised and deified in superlative terms in history. It didn't need a Bertrand Russell to champion love but there he was making a statement with a universal appeal: “love has been one principal moving force of my life.”

The most touching love story is traced to the life of Lord Buddha. When Buddha had quit family life on receiving ultimate knowledge ie Nirvana to dedicate himself to spreading the message, his paths crossed with his wife's for a brief moment. Spotting him in a place near her home, she sent a messenger urging Buddha to bless her with a visit. For, that would leave her a memory from which she would draw emotional sustenance for the rest of her life. Lord Buddha respected her wish, her last one, with a poignancy that is profoundly touching as an ode to pristine love.

An outstanding love affair between Edward VIII, an heir apparent to the British throne and Wallis Simpson, a twice divorced American nurse, that held the world in awe may not have been unblemished. Extracts from THAT WOMAN: The Life Of Wallis Simpson, Duchess Of Windsor by Anne Sebba, in the Mail Online suggest so. It opens thus: “a new biography, serialized in the Mail, explores the unanswered questions about Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom Edward VIII gave up his throne.”

Hitherto unpublished letters revealed that 'Wallis continued for years to exchange affectionate letters with her ex-husband, Ernest Simpson.' She was “still thinking of him – even on her honeymoon with Edward in 1937.”

An excerpt: “clearly upset that her old school-friend Mary Kirk was romantically involved with Ernest, she informed him that Mary's ambition had 'left a wound that will never heal'.”

Charles and Diana – a ‘fairy tale’romance that ended far too quickly.

Remember, Edward sending a letter to Wallis who had gone off to France leaving him free to rethink his abdication, just to say, no matter where she went he would chase her out.

A libertine wouldn't perhaps have his eyebrows raised at the implied impropriety had it not been for the fact that 'evidence' purportedly revealed in the Mail that she did not want to marry Edward in the first place.

Let's not forget that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor that Edward and Wallis were relegated to following his marrying a commoner who living but divorced husbands, defied any categorisation. Love truly knew no rules as far as Edward went.

Wallis wouldn't be addressed Her Royal Highness nor would she be courtesied to, were something that hurt Edward as much as the absence of King George VI and his younger brother at their wedding.

The couple settled in France, Wallis knowing that 'this was her last throw of the dice, privately decided’ “to do all in her power to make the marriage a success, in many ways she succeeded.”

An interesting development of the period was their visit to Nazi Germany and meeting with Hitler, clearly a great faux pas and a huge embarrassment to the British King. There was speculation in the air that Hitler thought of restoring the British throne to Edward, and Wallis the dignity of a queen should he have conquered Britain.

Like love, war is no respecter of rules.

As in life, so in death, they were tragic characters in their own inimitable ways.

But Edward and Wallis were luckless in the times they lived. For, their fate stands in contrast to the life of late and popular Princess Diana with Prince Charles and that between Camilla and Charles. Both the Charles' spouses have been commoners and Camilla a divorcee; and yet Charles didn't forfeit his claim to the British throne.

The writer is Associate Editor, The Daily Star.


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