The tragic, untold story of the Duchess of Windsor
Writing about Hugo Vickers’s last book for Hutchinson, Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, a succession of fellow biographers applauded Vickers’s unique skill. ‘Masterly . . . Hugo Vickers’s long immersion in the history and dramatic personae of the Royal Family has certainly paid off’ – Selina Hastings. ‘A bulging plum pudding of insider snippets’, commented Robert Lacey. ‘An overall portrait which may well be as close as anyone will ever get to the truth’, said Craig Brown. And A.N. Wilson added admiringly, ‘There is a small handful of British royal biographies which have acquired classic status . . . It is a truly magnificent book. Hugo Vickers knows his subject through and through.’
Hugo Vickers has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Royal Family, and has had a fascination with the story of the Duchess of Windsor since he was a young man. There have been a number of books about this doomed couple (and Channel 4 is very interested in doing a programme based on Hugo’s text), but this book brings a new perspective on the story by focussing on the later years of exile.
While Vickers has his own theories about the Abdication itself, and he makes it very clear that Mrs Simpson did not lure the King from the throne, the drama of this narrative comes from the criminal exploitation of an old sick woman after the death of her husband. She was ruthlessly exploited by a French lawyer called Suzanne Blum. Some members of the Royal Family, like Mountbatten and the Queen Mother, don’t emerge with much credit either.
Using previously unpublished papers and other personal testaments, Hugo Vickers relates a tragic story which has lost none of its resonance over the years since the Duchess died in 1986.