February 08, 2018 08:00 AM

When King Edward VIII famously abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson, it seemed like a love story of royal proportions.

But a new biography of Wallis reveals that her heart may have belonged to someone other than the Duke of Windsor, as Edward VIII was known after his abdication. In Wallis In Love, Andrew Morton — who wrote the famed tell-all about Princess Diana’s life and marriage to Prince Charles, Diana: Her True Story — unearths Wallis’s most true, most lasting love: Herman Rogers. Morton calls him “the most significant man in her life.”

Wallis first met Herman after her first marriage to Navy pilot Win Spencer started to crumble, when she traveled to China seeking an easy divorce. However, when she met him, he was married to her friend Katherine Rogers. He was a former businessman and WWI officer, and though Wallis was taken with him, she backed down after witnessing his happy marriage.

A love affair didn’t begin, but a long-lasting friendship did. They stayed close even after she became involved with Edward VIII, then the Prince of Wales. She even went to stay with Herman and Katherine in the South of France during the frenzy that preceded the formal abdication. And after the abdication, Herman gave Wallis away at her wedding to Edward VIII. A somewhat awkward position, as Wallis has told Herman just a few days before the ceremony that she loved him.

Herman Rogers, Wallis Simpson and the Duke of Windsor
Topical Press Agency/Getty

In 1948, Katherine died. But he quickly became engaged to a woman named Lucy Wann. At their wedding, Wallis told her: “I’ll hold you responsible if anything ever happens to Herman. He’s the only man I’ve ever loved.”

After that, her mood worsened, as did her marriage, according to her friend Lady Gladwyn.

“She became rude, odious,” Gladwyn said. “She spent all her time . . . staying in nightclubs until dawn and sending the Duke home early: ‘Buzz off, mosquito.’ ”

And as he suffered from throat cancer in the early 1970s, Wallis had seemingly abandoned him to the care of a nurse, Julie Chatard Alexander, who was with him when he died. Wallis was not.

“Poor fellow,” Julie said. “He would call her name over and over: ‘Wallis, Wallis, Wallis.’ Or ‘Darling, darling.’ It was pathetic and so sad, like a lamb calling for its mother.”

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