In honor of the publication of my second book, The Royal W.E. Unique Glimpses of The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, I thought I would share an excerpt from a chapter that addresses one of the most ridiculous rumors ever perpetuated about The Duchess of Windsor: that she was a hermaphrodite. The chapter is titled, “Not a Woman at All.”

It amazes me that despite all the excellent historical research and scholarship we have access to today, the Duchess of Windsor is still almost overwhelmingly vilified as the ugly American divorcée whose selfish desire to be queen consort led to the downfall of a promising British king.

Perhaps if Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, had the public relations and image consultants at her disposal like her modern counterpart, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, history – and the Royal Family – might have served her better. Instead, almost everything negative said of Wallis since 1936 still comprises the general opinion of her today.

Accusations such as the one that Wallis was a Nazi sympathizer are quite complex and important to address, especially as we look back with a more complete understanding of the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. Conversely, issues like Wallis’ appearance seem so trivial that they would be regarded as merely a matter of opinion and, therefore, beneath the interest of serious biographers.

But nothing about the Duchess of Windsor could ever be that easy.

Vitriolic comments about her appearance have been bantered about ever since her name first appeared in the international press with that of the then Prince of Wales. And while there were plenty of reporters willing to call her “beautiful” when it seemed the relationship was just another of the Prince-cum-King’s romantic liaisons, as soon as she appeared to be a threat to the monarchy, the comments became ruthless.

History served her even worse, as biographers scrambled to surpass one another with increasingly unflattering descriptions of her. Today, despite photographic evidence that allows individuals to devise their own opinions, certain authors still try to further their book sales by describing her as: “a woman whose face resembled the metal part of a garden shovel and her body the wooden handle.”

Comments like this leave little doubt that the matter of her appearance has digressed into the extreme. And what’s the most extreme that could be said of a woman? That she is not a “real” woman at all, but a hermaphrodite.

In 1981, the posthumously-published diaries of James Pope-Hennessy, biographer of the venerable Queen Mary, included the following comment about the Duchess of Windsor:“I should therefore be tempted to classify her simply as An American Woman par excellence, were it not for the suspicion that she is not a woman at all.”

There are very few ways to interpret this comment, and it wasn’t the first time the idea that the former Wallis Simpson was “not a woman at all” had been mentioned. And though Pope-Hennessy’s comment initially went somewhat unnoticed by the population at large, it wasn’t long before biographers of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor got on board and began introducing their own interpretations.

To read the rest of “Not a Woman At All,” download a copy of The Royal W.E. Unique Glimpses of The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, available for Kindle, Nook and other eReaders at the links below (you don’t even need an e-reader since both Kindle and Nook can be downloaded on most devices for free).

-Tori

The Royal W.E. Unique Glimpses of The Duke and Duchess of Windsor by Victoria Martínez can be purchased through the following links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0058W5QLI/
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-royal-we-unique-glimpses-of-the-duke-and-duchess-of-windsor-victoria-martinez/1104099132
Who Dares Wins Publishing: https://whodareswinspublishing.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=132

12
May

The Monarchy, Sewers and Modernization

   Posted by: Tori Martinez   in Historic Places, Royal History

The following is an excerpt from my new eBook, “An Unusual Journey Through Royal History,” which features 18 essays on a variety of royal history-related subjects spanning a thousand years.

These are the first few paragraphs of the chapter entitled The Monarchy, Sewers and Modernization. Enjoy!

It may be slightly surprising to see the words “monarchy” and “sewer” appear together in the same sentence, but the two have actually shared a very close connection for quite some time. This is due largely, but not entirely, to the historically close proximity of the strongholds of the British monarchy to the River Thames, which, up until about 140 years ago, was London’s biggest sewer. More tangentially, both the British monarchy and London’s sewers owe their current form to the Victorian Era and both have, for some time, been in need of modernization.

The reign of Queen Victoria presided over not only a period of major industrial development, technological advancement and enlightened thinking, but also of major improvements and modernization to the monarchy. By the time of the Great Stink in 1858, when the smell from rotting sewage in the Thames was so bad that Parliament had to be abandoned, the monarchy had evolved from a rather disrespected, if not entirely dissolute, institution to a progressive and meaningful symbol of government and family values.

As the monarchy advanced into a more modern institution, a forward-thinking man named Joseph Bazalgette was tasked with doing the same for London’s foul and deadly sewage system – creating an incredibly modern and revolutionary design that transformed the Thames from a cesspit into a free-flowing river and London from a deathtrap to a modern European city.

But, once again, the fates of both the monarchy and the sewers are intertwined. Somehow, once both the monarchy and the sewers were updated to sufficiently accommodate the modern era, they just stopped growing. Sewers that were built to accommodate 2,000,000 people are now expected to serve more than 60,000,000, and a monarchy that was well-suited for the Victorian mentality has continued on in much the same way ever since.

To read the rest of The Monarchy, Sewers and Modernization, download a copy of “An Unusual Journey Through Royal History, available for Kindle, Nook and other eReaders at the links below (you don’t even need an e-reader since both Kindle and Nook can be downloaded on most devices for free).

-Tori

“An Unusual Journey Through Royal History” by Victoria Martínez can be purchased through the following links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004X7LYPQ
Barnes and Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/An-Unusual-Journey-through-Royal-History/Victoria-Martinez/e/2940012509307
Who Dares Wins Publishing: https://whodareswinspublishing.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=115

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