When Prince Harry sat down with CBS’ Anderson Cooper for an interview about his new book, there was a little-known and unusual connection between the two.
Although their families were born thousands of miles apart and on different sides of the Atlantic, the interview wasn’t the first time their paths had crossed.
In the 1920s and ’30s, Cooper’s great-aunt Thelma Furness had an affair with the Duke’s great-great-grandfather, Edward VIII.
And in a twist of fate, it was Lady Furness who introduced the then-Prince of Wales to his wife-to-be, Wallis Simpson.
Thelma Furness pictured with Edward VIII, then Prince of Wales, during their affair in 1932
Prince Harry, pictured here, sat down for an interview with Anderson Cooper about his new book
It’s not known if either the Duke of Sussex or the American TV personality knew the connection before they met as part of Harry’s publicity blitz ahead of the release of his autobiography, Spare, next week.
However, information about the connection between their families has long been publicly available.
The prince, who had a reputation for being a clingy and needy man, had his fair share of romantic liaisons, including with a courtesan who murdered her husband.
He had originally met Lady Furness at an agricultural show in 1926.
The couple began an affair despite being married to Marmaduke Furness, who was 20 years her senior and owner of a shipbuilding company.
Edward had moved on to Lady Furness despite being infatuated with Freda Ward, wife of MP William Dudley Ward.
Their passionate affair had gone off the rails when Freda embarked on another affair with an American polo player to get the prince to move on.
He did so in the form of Lady Furness – with the couple exchanging Harrods teddy bears to remind them of each other while apart.
Edward’s association with Lady Furness also facilitated his acquaintance with his future wife, Wallis Simpson.
A chance meeting between the two at one of Lady Furness’s parties at her home in Melton Mowbry soon blossomed into a close friendship, reports The History Press.
Wallis and her second husband, Ernest Simpson, were only invited to the party after another couple dropped out at the last minute.
It was only after Wallis divorced her second husband, Ernest Simpson, that Edward entered into a relationship with her, sparking a royal crisis that ended with his abdication and the accession of Harry’s great-grandfather, George, to the throne.
In her book Before Wallis: Edward VIII’s Other Women, author Rachel Threthewey noted that despite the unending affair, one of the teddy bears was found at the bottom of Lady Furness’ purse when she died of a heart attack in 1970.
When asked towards the end of her life if she had any regrets, she said: “I would do it all over again. The only thing I wouldn’t do again is introduce Wallis Simpson to the Prince of Wales.’
It’s unclear if Harry or Cooper, pictured, were aware of the connection between their two families
Lady Furness and her twin sister Gloria Vanderbilt pictured together. Gloria was the grandmother of CBS’ Anderson Cooper
Lady Furness later said she regretted introducing Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson, pictured together in 1942
Lady Furness’ twin sister, Gloria, had also married into high society in the form of the Vanderbilts, one of America’s wealthiest families.
At age 18, she married Reginald Vanderbilt, an heir to the Vanderbilt fortune who was 24 years her senior.
They would have a daughter, also named Gloria, before he died, and she later became the subject of a highly publicized custody battle between Mrs. Vanderbilt and her sister-in-law, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.
The younger Gloria later gave birth to Anderson Cooper – the youngest of her seven children – with her fourth husband, author Wyatt Emory Cooper, in 1967.
Web has reached out to representatives of Prince Harry for comment.
A trailer for his interview with Cooper, as well as a separate quiz by ITV’s Tom Bradby, was released on Monday.
In the ad for his interview on CBS, Harry was asked why he hadn’t shared his grievances privately with the rest of his family.
“Every time I’ve tried to do it privately, there’s been briefings and leaks and planting stories against me and my wife.
“The family motto is never complain and never explain – it’s just a motto.”
He adds: “You [Buckingham Palace] will feed or chat with a correspondent and that correspondent will literally feed information and write the story and at the end he will say that he has reached out to Buckingham Palace for comment.
“But the whole story is commented on by Buckingham Palace.
“So when we’ve been told for the past six years, ‘We can’t make a statement to protect you,’ but you’re doing it for other family members, there comes a point where silence is treason.” ‘
It comes ahead of the release of his memoir Spare, which will be released in the UK next week.
In the trailer accompanying his interview with Mr Bradby, Harry says “it never had to be like this” and refers to “the outpouring and the planting” before adding “I want a family, not an institution”.
He also says, in an apparent reference to the royals, “they feel like it’s better to keep us kind of villains,” adding that his family “has shown absolutely no willingness to reconcile.”
Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams says the Sussexes’ press proclamations aren’t helping their broken relationship.
“It’s kind of like an advertising district that looks pretty desperate,” he said.
“Harry may want to ‘get his brother back’ and ‘his father back’, but he needs to know for sure that paying more attention to this catalog of ailments isn’t the way to go.
“Further allegations of stories planted against her by the Palace in both interviews show just how bitter he and Meghan still are, but while her fans may support this, there will come a time when even the media of the exposure will respond to this.” level get tired.
“Harry says in the trailer for the CBS interview, referring to the Palace’s inability to protect her from false reports, that ‘there comes a point when silence is treason.’
“There’s also a point where silence is common sense when they want a relationship with the royal family, however distant. When will the Sussexes find out?’