The world’s greatest love story? Not really. The world’s greatest demonstration of what co-dependency means, more like.
I had gone with the Windsor’s to bed with Anne Sebba’s book “That Woman”. Sebba makes it clear that Wallis didn’t want to marry an ex-King, but was happy to be connected to a King, but she doesn’t resolve the riddle of why Edward, an emotionally stunted middle-aged man (Wallis refers to him as Peter Pan in her letters) became hopelessly besotted with a tough woman who publicly bullied and humiliated him. Yet to untie the Windsor knot it’s only necessary to look at Edward’s childhood.
Sebba makes the point that Wallis was determined to marry a rich man because she’d had a trying childhood with not enough money. Well, there are plenty of us in that boat. But many others would have different goals and don’t all want to marry for status and the entree to the best parties. In some ways, Wallis was a classic Southern belle, having learned to listen and please men, dress to perfection and revel in parties – Scarlett O’Hara to the life.
Sebba also suggests that since many aspects of Wallis’s appearance were so masculine, including the lack of breasts, the broad shoulders, big ugly hands, strong mannish jaw, and an apparent in-ability to have children, she suffered from a form of Dis-order of Sexual Development. This, Sebba felt, would have been the unconscious mainspring behind the desire for what Wallis saw as feminine perfection. Whatever the reason, Wallis’s life seemed to be dominated by the desire for status,with expensive jewels, exquisite clothes, immaculate hair-do’s, the best parties, and liaisons flirtatious or otherwise, with rich fashionable people. And these things were what Edward was able to give her.
He already had all this stuff in spades. What he also had was a much worse childhood than Wallis, who had always been beloved. For the first three years of his life he was cared for by a sadistic dominating nanny. When she took him down to the drawing-room for the normal half an hour with the parents that rich Edwardian children enjoyed, she pinched him till it hurt outside the door, so that he entered the room crying. His un-maternal mother Queen Mary, and irascible father, King George promptly sent him out again, as they didn’t know what to do with a crying toddler.
So Edward’s childhood was dominated by a cold distant mother and by the cruel nanny, who finally had a nervous breakdown when he was three, and it was discovered she had never had a day off in three years. It’s a psychological truism that the experiences with parents or carers before the age of three, shape the relationships that we have with our significant others for the rest of our lives. So Edward was simply replicating his childhood and endlessly trying to please a rather cruel and dominating woman who was just like his nanny. The treadmill of of an unresolved childhood.
In psychological jargon, the Windsors had an interlocking racket, and since neither of them changed in all their years together, neither did the racket change. That, it seems to me is the real story of their marriage, not that it was a great love-story, but an enduring saga of co-dependency.
Last night I went to a seminar on the benefits of juicing. So fired with enthusiasm, I’ve decided to give up carbohydrates (as a foodie this deprivation may not last). But before I do, I’m having one last fling with carbs- a freshly baked loaf. This recipe has No kneading or proving in a warm cupboard. It’s simplicity itself. Just three cups of self-raising flour, a pinch of salt and a bottle of beer made up to 400mls with water. Mix them all together, put in a greased loaf-tin in a medium to hot oven, and cook for about an hour or until it sounds hollow when you tap it. Delicious hot or cold with lashings of real butter.