Biography Society

Story of King Edward VIII

king-edwardLove-the most immortal feeling a human can have in his life. Love is feeling that makes a person complete. Love brings happiness in an individual’s life and without love life is not complete. To love some needs a great soul, a great courage and a big heart. In this love world there are many examples that show how people can sacrifice everything for the sake of his love. The most prominent example being Edward VIII of United Kingdom who abdicated his throne to marry someone he wished. He left his royal powers to marry Mrs. Simpson, an American divorcee.

Edward VIII was born on 23rd June 1884 at White Lodge, Richmond in England. He was the eldest son of King George V and the Duchess of York. He was under the care of his misters and nanny until a certain age. He was formally educated at his home by Helen Bricka and studied in various colleges like Osborne Naval College, Royal Naval College at Dartmouth and Magdalene College, Oxford. He served for a brief period in British army during the First World War and also performed his specific Royal duties.

Meeting and Relationship with Mrs. Simpson:

In 1930 his father King George V gifted him a mansion Fort Belvedere, near Sunningdale, England. There he had relationship with several married women like American Textile heiress Freda Dudley Ward, American Film actress Mildred Harris, Lady Furness. Lady Furness for the first time introduced Mrs. Wallis Simpson (Future wife of the prince). Mrs. Simpson at that time had already divorced her first husband and was married to Mr. Ernest Simpson. It was a known fact Mrs. Simpson and the prince had fallen in love with each other when Lady Furness was on tour, though he adamantly told his father The King that he is not having any intimate relationship with Mrs. Simpson. On his accession to the Throne of the British Empire on 20th January 1936, he broke the royal rule by watching the proclamation of his own accession to the throne from a window of St. James’s Palace in the company of the then still-married Mrs. Simpson.

On 16th November 1936, he called his Prime Minister Mr. Stanley Baldwin at Buckingham palace and expressed his desire to marry Mrs. Simpson. Baldwin informed him that there will be huge chaos among his subject if he marries Mrs. Simpson as the Church of England doesn’t permits to marry a divorcee. People will not tolerate Mrs. Simpson as their new queen. Edward proposed a morganatic marriage in which Edward will remain a King but Wallis Simpson will not be a queen and she will enjoy less titles and status. Any children born to them will not be in line of succession to the throne. This was also overthrown by the British Cabinet and other Dominion Governments as stated by the Statue of Westminster, 1931 which states

“Any alteration in the law touching the Succession to the Throne or the Royal Style and Titles shall hereafter require the assent as well of the Parliaments of all the Dominions as of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.”

The Prime Minister of Australia, Canada and South Africa made clear that they are against the marriage of the king with a divorcee and the Irish Dominion remained neutral while the Prime Minister of New Zealand, having never even heard of Mrs. Simpson before, vacillated in disbelief. With lot of opposition from every where king first responded that “there are not many people in Australia, so their decision doesn’t matter”. Edward told Baldwin that he will abduct his throne for Mrs. Simpson. Baldwin gave him three options: give up the idea of marriage; marry against his ministers’ wishes; or abdicate. Edward can’t live without Mrs. Simpson and he also knew that if he marries against the advice of his ministers then there can be a resignation from minister’s side and can create a constitutional crisis. He opted for abduction.

Edward duly signed the abduction instruments at Fort Belvedere on 10 December 1936, in the presence of his three surviving brothers The Duke of York, The Duke of Gloucester and The Duke of Kent.

At the night of 11 December 1936, who is now remained with a title of Prince Edward, broadcasted to the nation, his all explanations of abdication. In his famous quotes he said

“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.”

At that night Edward departed United Kingdom for Austria and waited for several months for Mrs. Simpson over there until she was ready to get married.

Life after the abduction:

As soon as his brother Duke of York (George VI) came to throne he immediately announced his decision to make his brother Edward as the Duke of Windsor and awarded him highest degree of the British Empire. By making Edward as the Duke of Windsor George VI made sure that he could neither stand for election to the House of Commons nor speak on political subjects in the House of Lords.

The letters patent dated 27 May 1937, which re-conferred upon the Duke of Windsor, the “title, style, or attribute of Royal Highness”, specifically stated that “his wife and if any children cannot hold this title”. Many minister suggested his title cannot be conferred since he is not related to royal duties in any case. On the other hand some insisted marrying a prince will automatically have “Her Highness” title for Mrs. Simpson. On 14th April 1937, a memorandum submitted by Attorney General Sir Donald Somervell submitted to Home Secretary Sir John Simon which summarizes the view of Lord Advocate T. M. Cooper, Parliamentary Counsel Sir Granville Ram and himself, to the effect that:

· We incline to the view that on his abdication the Duke of Windsor could not have claimed the right to be described as a Royal Highness. In other words, no reasonable objection could have been taken if the King had decided that his exclusion from the lineal succession excluded him from the right to this title as conferred by the existing Letters Patent.

· The question however has to be considered on the basis of the fact that, for reasons which are readily understandable, he with the express approval of His Majesty enjoys this title and has been referred to as a Royal Highness on a formal occasion and in formal documents. In the light of precedent it seems clear that the wife of a Royal Highness enjoys the same title unless some appropriate express step can be and is taken to deprive her of it.

· We came to the conclusion that the wife could not claim this right on any legal basis. The right to use this style or title, in our view, is within the prerogative of His Majesty and he has the power to regulate it by Letters Patent generally or in particular circumstances.

Edward married Simpson on 3rd June 1937 at Château de Candé, near Tours, France, without the consent of Church of England. George VI, his brother ordered every family member not to attend the marriage but Edward wished the presence of his brothers the Dukes of Gloucester and Kent and his second cousin Lord Louis Mountbatten. After the marriage there was a huge conflict for not granting the status of “Her Royal Highness” to Duchess of Windsor (Mrs. Simpson acquired this title by default after getting married to Edward, Duke of Windsor. Also after marriage she changed her name to Wallis Warfield). Also there were a lot of financial settlements with the allowance that the new king was supposed to pay him. Also the Government refused to include him in the civil list. Edward possessed all his wealth from Duchy of Cornwall and the new King and Queen was forced to give him Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle. These properties were Edward’s personal property, inherited from his father, King George V, and thus did not automatically pass to George VI on his accession. Relation went bitter and bitter with his family and Edward once have written to his Mother Mary of Teck that

“Your last letter destroyed the last vestige of feeling I had left for you … and has made further normal correspondence between us impossible.”

The Duke(Edward ) was in a hope that he would return to England after a year or two of exile in France, but his brother George VI (the new king) with the support from their mother Queen Mary and his wife Queen Elizabeth threatened Edward that if he comes to England without any invitation, then his allowance can be stopped.

In his last days….

The couple settled in France. The French government provided them with a house in Paris with a nominal rent. French Government also exempted him from paying any taxes. In his last days he authored many books including the famous “A King’s Story” and “A family Album” that stated the style of the royal family starting from Queen Victoria.

He was paid for writing in Sunday Express and Women’s Home Companion, as well as a short book, The Crown and the People. He visited USA on the invitation of President Eisenhower and President Nixon invited the couple as a special guest of honor.

The Royal family never fully accepted the duchess and Queen Mary (mother of Edward) refused her to be a part. However, Duke sometimes met his mother (Queen Mary) and his brother King George VI. He also attended the funeral of the King. In 1965, the couple returned to London and attended various family gatherings.

In the late 1960s health of Duke deteriorated. Queen Elizabeth (Daughter of George VI and the new ruler of England) visited him on a state visit to France in 1972. On that year, May 28 Edward passed away peacefully from throat cancer. He was a smoker from an early age. His body was returned to Britain, lying in state at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. The funeral service was held in the chapel on 5 June in the presence of the Queen, the Royal Family, and the Duchess of Windsor, and the coffin was buried in the Royal Burial Ground behind the Royal Mausoleum of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Frogmore. The Duchess stayed at Buckingham Palace during her visit. Increasingly senile and frail, the Duchess died 14 years later, and was buried alongside her husband simply as “Wallis, Duchess of Windsor”.

With all this tremendous situation love for each other never deceased. They loved each other at any conditions. For Love the King became a beggar. This is what a true love is. May god bless every couple with this kind of feeling. Long Live the King!!!

About the author

Ambarish Pandey

Ambarish Pandey is currently working for PricewaterhouseCoopers PVT. LTD. in India, Kolkata. He is a Senior Consultant in the Advisory Division of the firm. He holds Engineering degree from Bengal Engineering & Science University, Shibpur, India's second oldest Engineering college. Besides Developing websites and other software jobs he loves to blog on Women, Minority Issues.

His hobbies are Cooking, Collectibles and Archeology(Egyptology), Bengal's & Punjab's History... His book on cookery in Bengali under title "Hesel"(Kitchen) has been published in India.

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