Wallis Simp­son’s Jewish se­cret

The woman King Ed­ward VIII gave up the throne for was mar­ried to a Jew

The Jewish Chronicle - - Front Page - BY ANNE SEBBA

IF THERE is one event in the his­tory of the 1930s that ev­ery­one knows, it is the crackly broad­cast from Wind­sor cas­tle of King Ed­ward VIII giv­ing up the Bri­tish throne be­cause he could not con­tinue “with­out the help and sup­port of the woman I love”. But if that woman, Wallis Simp­son, had been Wallis Solomon, as well she mighthave­been,wouldthere­have­been an ab­di­ca­tion cri­sis? Would a Mrs Solomon ever have been granted the kind of ac­cess to royal cir­cles that would al­low a re­la­tion­ship with the then Prince of Wales to be­gin in the first place?

In 2007 I started re­search­ing my bi­og­ra­phy of Wallis Simp­son, a woman dubbe­daNazispy,gold­dig­ger,and­pros­ti­tute who learned her skills in Chinese broth­els. But who was the real Wallis?

I de­cided to start with a key pro­tag­o­nist in the drama — Ernest Simp­son, the hus­band she left for Ed­ward, Ernest who is al­ways por­trayed as the tra­di­tional cuck­olded hus­band about whom ev­ery­one has a good laugh be­hind his back. So I googled him. And there, at the end of the ar­ti­cle, was a ref­er­ence to a son born in 1939, chris­tened in the Guards ChapelasHen­ryChildSimp­son­butwho, since 1958, went by the name of Aharon Solomons, hav­ing added an “s” to the fam­ily name. This man was a free-div­ing in­struc­tor — teach­ing breath-held un­der­wa­ter­div­ing—who­had­trainedin Ei­lat but now lived in Mex­ico.

I called a num­ber on the free-divers’ web­site and, an hour later, got through to a friendly, up­per-class English voice with Is­raeli in­flec­tions. The man was shocked at be­ing tracked down. No one had ever in­ter­viewed him about Ernest and Wallis be­fore. But we chat­ted and he told me that, al­though nor­mally busy run­ning his div­ing camp, he was about to have a foot op­er­a­tion and would be re­cu­per­at­ing for two weeks. If I could come im­me­di­ately, he would see me.

Look­ing back now I am shocked at my­self for agree­ing so read­ily to stay in the flat of a strange man. I had made cur­sory checks with a friend who had been at Har­row School at the same time as young Henry. Yes, he re­mem­bered the boy, he told me. But that mem­ory was of lit­tle help, I re­flected, as we set off one breath­lessly hot af­ter­noon from his flat to see his desert camp, trav­el­ling in an old pick-up truck with a ma­chete (to kill snakes, he in­sisted), enough wa­ter for four days and not a hu­man be­ing in sight. The trip was nec­es­sary, he per­suaded me, if I was to un­der­stand how stul­ti­fy­ing was the life­style in Eng­land he had re­belled against. And s o , d u r i n g the course of the next few days, as we cooked on an open fire and slept on a makeshift ta­ble ( h i g h e n o u g h

PHOTO: AP

The Duke and Duchess of June 1937. Later that year,

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