On 10 June 1931, Wallis was officially presented at court before the King and Queen. She had met the Prince of Wales for the first time in January and they were not close yet. However, being presented at court was the thing to do in proper society. It had involved jumping through quite a few hoops as, for many years, a divorced person could not be presented at court. This had recently changed, and now one could be presented at court if they could prove that they were the injured, blameless party. Legal proof had to be provided to the office of the Lord Chamberlain, and so Wallis obtained copies of her divorce decree from the United States, and she forwarded them to St. James’s Palace. Wallis borrowed a dress from her friend Consuelo Thaw and train, feathers and a fan from Thelma, Viscountess Furness. She bought a large cross to wear around her neck and elbow-length white gloves.
That day, Wallis entered the ballroom at Buckingham Palace, where King George and Queen Mary sat on their thrones. Both were magnificently dressed – George in his full dress uniform and Mary in a beaded evening gown with the blue sash of the Order of the Garter. Wallis swept into a deep curtsey before the King and Queen, who nodded politely, but they exchanged no words. It had lasted less than a minute.
Wallis’s future husband, then The Prince of Wales, was also present, and she overheard the Prince muttering something about the light making all the women look ghastly. Afterwards, Wallis and Ernest were invited over to Thelma’s house, where the Prince was also present. He made an admiring remark about her gown to which Wallis retorted, “But Sir, I understood that you thought we all looked ghastly.” He was quite amused rather than offended and said, “I had no idea my voice carried so far.”1 He then offered to drive Wallis and Ernest home that night.2
Wallis later wrote in her memoirs, “The presentation was a magnificent set-piece of pageantry too often described, down to the smallest detail, to bear repeating here. What impressed me most, to the point of awe, was the grandeur that invested the King and Queen.[…] As our names were called, Mildred and I each swept to the floor in a deep curtsy, first to the Sovereign and then to the Queen, and then we withdrew sedately from the Presence. Once out of sight, everyone moved into the adjoining State apartments in order to obtain a point of vantage from which to watch the Royal Family as they left in procession at the end of the Court.”3