In 1998, a lonely woman from New York, Wally Winthrop (Cornish), is obsessed with the story of how King Edward VIII (D'Arcy) abdicated the British throne to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough). Weaving back and forth in time, the film intertwines Wally's journey of discovery in New York with relating the story of Wallis and Edward, from the early days of their romance to the unraveling of their lives in the decades that followed, as Wally's research reveals that there was more in the couple's life together than she thought.
The film contains examples of:
- Babies Make Everything Better: Wally urges her husband to have a child together, but he doesn't want to. She eventually gets pregnant with Evgeni's baby after divorcing her husband.
- Domestic Abuse: When Wally accuses her husband William of having an affair, William hits her. Then, after she returns home from going out on a date with Evgeni, a suspecting William confronts and then beats Wally again, leaving her badly injured on the floor.
- Loving a Shadow: In a platonic sense. Wally became fascinated with Wallis and Edward's relationship, but through a series of letters from Wallis, Wally comes to realise that Wallis thought of herself as stuck in a relationship with Edward for the rest of her life, and never became sure if it all was worthy.
- Your Cheating Heart:
- Wally falls in love with Evgeni while still married with William.
- Of course, there's Wallis Simpson and Edward embarking on an affair while she's still married.