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The Queen's aunt Wallis Simpson's £1.3m engagement ring had special hidden message

The Duke of Windsor chose Wallis over the throne

Perhaps one of the most controversial couples in royal history was King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson – and the American socialite's engagement ring was equally as rebellious as their relationship.

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The couple faced backlash after announcing their plans to wed since Wallis was a divorcee who had previously been married twice, and it ultimately resulted in Edward abdicating the throne in order to continue their relationship. He was given the title the Duke of Windsor by his brother and Queen Elizabeth II's father, King George VI. Take a look back at Wallis' rule-breaking ring…

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Edward and Wallis met in 1930 when the pair were seated next to one another at dinner during a country hunting weekend. "I was petrified," she recalled in her autobiography, The Heart Has Its Reasons. "But I decided the Prince was truly one of the most attractive personalities I ever met."

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After keeping their relationship secret for two years, they went public following Edward's succession to the throne in January 1936. It was just nine months later on 26 October 1936 that Edward popped the question with a huge emerald engagement ring – an uncommon choice for royals since the stone was considered soft and easily scratched.

Wallis Simpson's emerald engagement ring

Made by Cartier, the platinum band featured a 19.77-carat rectangular emerald flanked by diamond baguettes, and it reportedly later sold at auction for £1.3million. Inside, Edward had a sweet message engraved that read: "We are ours now 27 X 36" in a nod to their engagement date and the day Wallis' second divorce proceedings began.

After the couple was exiled to France, they got married in a civil ceremony at the Chateau of Cande on 3 June 1937, followed by a religious ceremony by Anglican clergyman Reverand Robert Anderson Jardine, who defied the Church of England’s ban on marrying divorced people. 

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor on their wedding day

Wallis looked beautiful in a pale blue wedding dress by Mainbocher and matching gloves that were specially made to accommodate her huge green rock.

She previously married US Navy pilot Earl Winfield Spencer in 1916 when she was 20, but they got divorced in 1927. She then wed her second husband Ernest Simpson in 1928 in London’s Chelsea registry office, and their divorce was finalised in 1937.

When Edward made his decision to abdicate, he said in a moving radio address on 11 December 1936: "I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love."

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