The battle for Wallis Simpson’s knickers: Legal fight for underwear of woman who dethroned Edward VIII

The of Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee who prompted the history-changing abdication of VIII, is now at the centre of a rural English custody battle.

“I would dearly love these garments back … I would like to give them to my niece and say ‘That’s what your grandmother treasured,’” said U.K. woman Sally , speaking to the Express and Star newspaper.

Simmonds is the daughter of the late Lady Barbara , husband of the well-known British soccer administrator Sir Bert .

File
File Wallis Simpson

The underwear in question is said to comprise two night-dresses, one negligee and a set of .

The clothing was accidentally abandoned nine years ago during Lady Millichip’s move from a bungalow home in the Central English village of Barnt Green.

Her daughter is now trying to recover the clothing from the home’s stubborn new owner.

The Millichips first acquired Simpson’s underwear through , a Frenchwoman who served her and the former Edward VIII as a maid in the mid-1950s.

In December of 1936, Edward abdicated the U.K. throne after less than a year due to widespread opposition over his plans to marry Simpson.

The abdication set in motion the events that ultimately led to the ongoing reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The couple subsequently became the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and lived much of the rest of their life in France.

Edward died in 1972, Wallis in 1986.

The pair’s uncomfortably close ties to Nazism in the years before the Second War led to them being largely ignored by their royal relatives. Nevertheless, Simpson has gone down as an icon of interwar style.

U.S. National Archives
U.S. National ArchivesBut Richard Nixon still found time for them.

ended up owning a relatively large quantity of Simpson’s , since the Duchess had a habit of wearing outfits only once before handing them off to her maid.

“The Duchess was a perfectionist. I’m sure the Queen is less demanding than the Duchess was,” Armitage told British media in 2008.

Knickers were no exception. As Armitage remembered, “she liked her underwear to be presented in a basket.”

Armitage sold off some of her Simpson memorabilia at a 2008 . She gave other pieces to Lady Millichip, who was known to exhibit Simpson’s clothes at the occasional charity event. But she always kept the underwear out of the public eye.

In the U.K., however, high station is apparently no barrier to having people going through your underwear following your death.

In 2014, a pair of Queen Victoria’s bloomers sold at auction for the equivalent of $10,000. Just last year, a pair of Victoria’s surprisingly large cotton knickers sold for $20,000.

ITV
ITVIn this screenshot from an ITV segment, Queen Victoria's large bloomers can be seen before their 2014 sale at auction.

However, the status of the Simpson undergarments remain unknown. 

The Express and Star contacted , who now lives in the house where the underwear was forgotten.

Somewhat inexplicably, he told them that he simply decided to throw them away.

“I got rid of them out of temper more than anything else,” Gibbs said. “They have been in the garage for about nine years … I was fed up with the clothes and I threw them in the black bin.”

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