Text, Vivian Kelly
Finally! After months of talking about watching Madonna directed W.E., I unexpectedly found the film at RedBox, in Stop & Shop, and had the luxury of watching it over the course of several days, rewinding it to hone-in on the magnificent jewelry Edward gifted Wallis.
We already know part of the story, which we were introduced to in the Academy Award winning The King’s Speech. Colin Firth played the part of the shy, stuttering Bertie to a tee. The spare heir found himself catapaulted into the terrrifying position of having to become King of England /Great Britain, after his older brother, King EdwardVIII [convincingly played by James D'Arcy in W. E.], gave up the throne to be with the woman he loved, Baltimore divorcee, Wallis Simpson.
In W.E., Madonna adds an interesting twist, telling Wallis’s story through the eyes of a modern day “Wally”[Winthrop], the lovely Abbie Cornish. The latter is a former Art Expert at Sotheby’s, who gives up the work she loves for her narcissistic husband, played by Richard Coyle, who regards her as nothing much more than a pretty and irrelevant bauble.
Wally and Wallis [Andrea Riseborough] play the role of mentee and mentor. Both experience happiness in two greatly different time periods, in varying degrees, predicated by the prevailing societal norms. Mrs. Simpson is ostracized world-wide by “society” for ruining Edward’s life. The couple is banished from England until they die. They pay a steep price for daring to flout convention to stay together.
As Wally points-out to Mr. Al Fayed, when she pleads with him to let her see the Duchess’s letter, Wallis has given up her life to be with Edward. As Wallis says to Edward, they are doomed to be society’s most celebrated refugees.
The real story though, is one of mentorship. Wallis Simpson acted as Wally Winthrop spiritual guide.Wally has it much easier than her idol Wallis, in that after enduring a horrific beating from her abusive husband, as does Wallis in her first marriage, she finds love with [Oscar Isaac] a handsome Russian security guard and finds herself able to have a child with the man she loves, unlike her idol Wallis. In addition to the storyline, there are gorgeous sets to enjoy and jewelry aplenty to ogle over. Edward gave Wallis extraordinary jewelry to mark just about every event in the 35 years of their marriage.
The Duchess’s 214 piece jewelry collection was originally sold in 1987, by Sotheby’s in Geneva for the record price of $53.5 million. Elizabeth Taylor owned the Duchess of Windsor Prince of Wales Plume Pin. You can get a nice version at Carolee for $95.
Enjoy the images of some of the spectacular pieces [below] that Edward gifted Wallis in his attempt to make up for the pain of their life-long exile.
*If you’re smitten with Wallis’s jewelry, there are some excellent and affordable copies available at Carolee.