Edward VIII

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Edward VIII
Edward is young, clean-shaven and in military uniform
Edward in 1919
King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, Emperor of India (more...)
Reign 20 January 1936 – 11 December 1936
Predecessor George V
Successor George VI
Prime Ministers See list
Spouse Wallis Simpson
Full name
Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David
House House of Windsor
Father George V
Mother Mary of Teck
Born 23 June 1894 (1894-06-23)
White Lodge, Richmond, Surrey, United Kingdom
Died 28 May 1972 (aged 77)
4 Route du Champ d'Entraînement, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris, France
Burial 5 June 1972
Frogmore, Berkshire
Religion Anglican
Signature
British Royalty
House of Windsor
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (1837-1952).svg
George V
Edward VIII
George VI
Mary, Princess Royal
Henry, Duke of Gloucester
George, Duke of Kent
Prince John
Edward VIII

Edward VIII (Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David; 23 June 1894 – 28 May 1972) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Empire, and Emperor of India, from 20 January 1936 until his abdication on 11 December 1936.

Edward was the eldest son of King George V and Queen Mary. He was created Prince of Wales on his sixteenth birthday, nine weeks after his father succeeded his own father, Edward VII, as King. As a young man, he served in the British Armed Forces during the First World War and undertook several overseas tours on behalf of his father.

Edward became King following his father's death on 20 January 1936. He showed impatience with court protocol, and politicians were concerned by his apparent disregard for established constitutional conventions. Only months into his reign, he caused a constitutional crisis by proposing marriage to the American socialite Wallis Simpson, who had divorced her first husband and was seeking a divorce from her second. The prime ministers of the United Kingdom and the Dominions opposed the marriage, arguing that the people would never accept a divorced woman with two living ex-husbands as queen consort. Additionally, such a marriage would have conflicted with Edward's status as the titular head of the Church of England, which at the time opposed the remarriage of divorced people if their former spouses were still alive. Edward knew that the government, led by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, would resign if the marriage went ahead, which could have forced a general election and would ruin his status as a politically neutral constitutional monarch. Choosing not to end his relationship with Simpson, Edward abdicated. He was succeeded by his younger brother Albert, who chose the regnal name George VI. With a reign of 326 days, Edward was one of the shortest-reigning monarchs in British history.

After his abdication, he was created Duke of Windsor. He married Simpson in France on 3 June 1937, after her second divorce became final. Later that year, the couple toured Germany. During the Second World War, he was at first stationed with the British Military Mission to France but, after private accusations that he held Nazi sympathies, he was assigned to the Bahamas as the islands' Governor. After the war, he was never given another official appointment and spent the remainder of his life in retirement in France.

Early life[edit]

Little David, photographed by his grandmother Queen Alexandra

Edward VIII was born on 23 June 1894 at White Lodge, Richmond Park, on the outskirts of London, during the reign of his great-grandmother Queen Victoria.[1] He was the eldest son of the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary). His father was the son of the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra). His mother was the eldest daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Teck (Francis and Mary Adelaide). As a great-grandson of the monarch in the male line, Edward was styled His Highness Prince Edward of York at birth.

He was baptised Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David in the Green Drawing Room of White Lodge on 16 July 1894 by Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury.[N 1][2] The names were chosen in honour of Edward's late uncle, who was known to his family as "Eddy" or Edward, and his great-grandfather King Christian IX of Denmark. The name Albert was included at the behest of Queen Victoria, and his last four names – George, Andrew, Patrick and David – came from the Patron Saints of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.[3] He was always known to his family and close friends by his last given name, David.[4]

Like other upper-class children of the time, Edward and his younger siblings were brought up by nannies rather than directly by their parents. One of his early nannies abused Edward by pinching him before he was due to be presented to his parents. His subsequent crying and wailing would lead the Duke and Duchess to send Edward and the nanny away.[5] The nanny was subsequently discharged.

Edward's father, though a harsh disciplinarian,[6] was demonstrably affectionate,[7] and his mother displayed a frolicsome side with her children that belied her austere public image. She was amused by the children making tadpoles on toast for their French master,[8] and encouraged them to confide in her.[9]

Education[edit]

Initially Edward was tutored at home by Helen Bricka. When his parents travelled the British Empire for almost nine months following the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, young Edward and his siblings stayed in Britain with their grandparents, Queen Alexandra and King Edward VII, who showered their grandchildren with affection. Upon his parents' return, Edward was placed under the care of two men, Frederick Finch and Henry Hansell, who virtually brought up Edward and his brothers and sister for their remaining nursery years.[10]

Edward was kept under the strict tutorship of Hansell until nearly 13; he was taught German and French by private tutors.[11] Edward took the examination to enter Osborne Naval College, and began there in 1907. Hansell had wanted Edward to enter school earlier, but his father disagreed.[12] Following two years at Osborne College, which he did not enjoy, Edward moved on to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth. A course of two years followed by entry into the Royal Navy was planned. A bout of mumps may have left him sterile. When his father ascended the throne on 6 May 1910 following the death of Edward VII, Edward automatically became Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay and he was created Prince of Wales a month later on 23 June 1910, his 16th birthday. Preparations began in earnest for his future duties as king. He was withdrawn from his naval course before his formal graduation, served as midshipman for three months aboard the battleship Hindustan, then immediately entered Magdalen College, Oxford, for which, in the opinion of his biographers, he was underprepared intellectually. A keen horseman, he learned how to play polo with the university club.[13] He left Oxford after eight terms without any academic qualifications.[14]

Prince of Wales[edit]

Medallion celebrating the investiture of Edward as Prince of Wales, 1911

Edward was officially invested as Prince of Wales in a special ceremony at Caernarvon Castle on 13 July 1911.[15] The investiture took place in Wales, at the instigation of the Welsh politician David Lloyd George, Constable of the Castle and Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Liberal government.[16] Lloyd George invented a rather fanciful ceremony in the style of a Welsh pageant, and coached Edward to speak a few words in Welsh.[17]

Edward during the First World War

When the First World War (1914–18) broke out, Edward had reached the minimum age for active service and was keen to participate.[18] He had joined the Grenadier Guards in June 1914, and although Edward was willing to serve on the front lines, Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener refused to allow it, citing the immense harm that would occur if the heir to the throne were captured by the enemy.[19]

Despite this, Edward witnessed trench warfare first-hand and attempted to visit the front line as often as he could, for which he was awarded the Military Cross in 1916. His role in the war, although limited, made him popular among veterans of the conflict.[20] Edward undertook his first military flight in 1918 and later gained a pilot's licence.[21]

Portrait by Reginald Grenville Eves, c. 1920

Throughout the 1920s, Edward, as Prince of Wales, represented his father, King George V, at home and abroad on many occasions. He took a particular interest in science and in 1926 was president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science when his alma mater, Oxford University, hosted the society's annual general meeting.[22] He also visited the poverty–stricken areas of the country,[23] and undertook 16 tours to various parts of the Empire between 1919 and 1935. On a tour of Canada in 1919 he acquired the Bedingfield ranch, near Pekisko, Alberta,[24] and in 1924 he donated the Prince of Wales Trophy to the National Hockey League.[25] From January to April 1931, he and his brother, Prince George, travelled 18,000 miles on a tour of South America, voyaging out on the ocean liner SS Oropesa[26] and returning via Paris and an Imperial Airways flight from Paris–Le Bourget Airport that landed specially in Windsor Great Park.[27][28]

The prince's rank, travels, good looks, and unmarried status gained him much public attention, and at the height of his popularity, he was the most photographed celebrity of his time.[29]

His attitudes towards many of the Empire's subjects and various foreign peoples, both during his time as Prince of Wales and later as Duke of Windsor, were little commented upon at the time but have soured his reputation subsequently.[30] In 1920 he wrote of Indigenous Australians, "they are the most revolting form of living creatures I've ever seen!! They are the lowest known form of human beings & are the nearest thing to monkeys."[31]

Romances[edit]

Edward wearing a top hat and bow tie
Edward in 1932

Edward's womanising and reckless behaviour during the 1920s and 1930s worried Prime Minister Baldwin, King George V, and those close to the prince. Alan Lascelles, Edward's private secretary for eight years during this period, believed that "for some hereditary or physiological reason his normal mental development stopped dead when he reached adolescence".[32] George V was disappointed by Edward's failure to settle down in life, disgusted by his affairs with married women, and was reluctant to see him inherit the Crown. "After I am dead," George said, "the boy will ruin himself in 12 months."[33]

In 1929, Time magazine reported that Edward teased his sister-in-law, Elizabeth, the wife of his younger brother Albert, by calling her "Queen Elizabeth". The magazine asked if "she did not sometimes wonder how much truth there is in the story that he once said he would renounce his rights upon the death of George V – which would make her nickname come true".[34] Edward grew older and remained unmarried, but his brother and sister-in-law had two children, including Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen Elizabeth II. George V favoured his son Albert ("Bertie"), and granddaughter Elizabeth ("Lilibet"), and told a courtier, "I pray to God that my eldest son [Edward] will never marry and have children, and that nothing will come between Bertie and Lilibet and the throne."[35]

In 1930, George V gave Edward a home, Fort Belvedere, in Windsor Great Park.[36] There, Edward had relationships with a series of married women including textile heiress Freda Dudley Ward, and Lady Furness, the American wife of a British peer, who introduced the prince to her friend and fellow American Wallis Simpson. Simpson had divorced her first husband in 1927, and her second husband, Ernest Simpson, was a British-American businessman. Wallis Simpson and the Prince of Wales, it is generally accepted, became lovers while Lady Furness travelled abroad, though Edward adamantly insisted to his father that he was not intimate with her and that it was not appropriate to describe her as his mistress.[37] Edward's relationship with Simpson further weakened his poor relationship with his father. Although King George V and Queen Mary met Simpson at Buckingham Palace in 1935,[38] they later refused to receive her.[39]

Edward's affair with an American divorcee led to such grave concern that the couple were followed by members of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch, who examined in secret the nature of their relationship. An undated report detailed a visit by the couple to an antique shop, where the proprietor later noted "that the lady seemed to have POW [Prince of Wales] completely under her thumb."[40] The prospect of having an American divorcee with a questionable past having such sway over the heir apparent led to anxiety among government and establishment figures.[41]

Reign[edit]

Edward VIII surrounded by heralds of the College of Arms prior to his only State Opening of Parliament, 3 November 1936

King George V died on 20 January 1936, and Edward ascended the throne as King Edward VIII. The next day, he broke royal protocol by watching the proclamation of his own accession from a window of St James's Palace in the company of the then still-married Simpson.[42] Edward became the first monarch of the British Empire to fly in an aircraft when he flew from Sandringham to London for his Accession Council.[11]

Edward caused unease in government circles with actions that were interpreted as interference in political matters. His comment during a tour of depressed villages in South Wales that "something must be done"[11] for the unemployed coal miners was seen as directly critical of the Government, though it has never been clear whether Edward had anything in particular in mind. Government ministers were reluctant to send confidential documents and state papers to Fort Belvedere because it was clear that Edward was paying little attention to them and there was a lack of confidence in his discretion in constitutional and political matters. It was feared that Simpson and other house guests might see state papers and that confidential information in them might be improperly or inadvertently disclosed in ways that could be detrimental to the country's national interests.[43]

Edward's unorthodox approach to his role also extended to the currency which bore his image. He broke with the tradition that on coinage each successive monarch faced in the opposite direction to his or her predecessor. Edward insisted that he face left (as his father had done),[44] to show the parting in his hair.[45] Only a handful of test coins were struck before the abdication, and when George VI succeeded to the throne he also faced left, to maintain the tradition by suggesting that had any coins been minted featuring Edward's portrait, they would have shown him facing right.[46]

Left-facing currency portrait of Edward VIII

On 16 July 1936, an Irish fraudster called Jerome Bannigan, alias George Andrew McMahon, produced a loaded revolver as Edward rode on horseback at Constitution Hill, near Buckingham Palace. Police spotted the gun and pounced on him; he was quickly arrested. At Bannigan's trial, he alleged that "a foreign power" had approached him to kill Edward, that he had informed MI5 of the plan, and that he was merely seeing the plan through to help MI5 catch the real culprits. The court rejected the claims and sent him to jail for a year for "intent to alarm".[47] It is now thought that Bannigan had indeed been in contact with MI5 but the veracity of the remainder of his claims remains open.[48]

In August and September, Edward and Simpson cruised the Eastern Mediterranean on the steam yacht Nahlin. By October it was becoming clear that the new king planned to marry Simpson, especially when divorce proceedings between the Simpsons were brought at Ipswich Assizes.[49] Preparations for all contingencies were made, including the prospect of the coronation of King Edward and Queen Wallis. Because of the religious implications of any marriage, plans were made to hold a secular coronation ceremony not in the traditional religious location, Westminster Abbey, but in the Banqueting House in Whitehall.[50]

Although gossip about his affair was widespread in the United States, the British media kept voluntarily silent and the public knew nothing until early December.

Abdication[edit]

Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson on their Mediterranean holiday, 1936

On 16 November 1936, Edward invited British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin to Buckingham Palace and expressed his desire to marry Wallis Simpson when she became free to re-marry. Baldwin informed him that his subjects would deem the marriage morally unacceptable, largely because remarriage after divorce was opposed by the Church of England, and the people would not tolerate Wallis as queen.[51] As king, Edward was the titular head of the Church of England, and the clergy expected him to support the Church's teachings.

Edward proposed an alternative solution of a morganatic marriage, in which he would remain king but Wallis would not become queen. She would enjoy some lesser title instead, and any children they might have would not inherit the throne. This too was rejected by the British Cabinet[52] as well as other Dominion governments,[53] whose views were sought pursuant to the Statute of Westminster 1931, which provided in part that "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."[54] The Prime Ministers of Australia, Canada and South Africa made clear their opposition to the king marrying a divorcee;[55] their Irish counterpart expressed indifference and detachment, while the Prime Minister of New Zealand, having never heard of Simpson before, vacillated in disbelief.[56] Faced with this opposition, Edward at first responded that there were "not many people in Australia" and their opinion did not matter.[57]

Edward informed Baldwin that he would abdicate if he could not marry Simpson. Baldwin then presented Edward with three choices: give up the idea of marriage; marry against his ministers' wishes; or abdicate.[58] It was clear that Edward was not prepared to give up Simpson, and he knew that if he married against the advice of his ministers, he would cause the government to resign, prompting a constitutional crisis.[59] He chose to abdicate.[60]

Edward duly signed the instruments[N 2] of abdication at Fort Belvedere on 10 December 1936 in the presence of his younger brothers: Prince Albert, Duke of York, next in line for the throne; Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester; and Prince George, Duke of Kent.[61] The next day, the last act of his reign was the royal assent to His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936. As required by the Statute of Westminster, all the Dominions consented to the abdication,[62] though the Irish Free State did not pass the External Relations Act, which included the abdication in its schedule, until 12 December.

On the night of 11 December 1936, Edward, now reverted to a prince, made a broadcast to the nation and the Empire, explaining his decision to abdicate. He famously 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."[63]

After the broadcast, Edward departed Britain for Austria; he was unable to join Simpson until her divorce became absolute, several months later.[64] His brother, Prince Albert, Duke of York, succeeded to the throne as George VI. George VI's elder daughter, Princess Elizabeth, became first in the line of succession, as heiress presumptive.

Duke of Windsor[edit]

On 12 December 1936, at the accession meeting of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, George VI announced he was to make his brother "His Royal Highness The Duke of Windsor".[65] He wanted this to be the first act of his reign, although the formal documents were not signed until 8 March the following year. During the interim, Edward was universally known as the Duke of Windsor. George VI's decision to create Edward a royal duke ensured that he could neither stand for election to the House of Commons nor speak on political subjects in the House of Lords.[66]

Letters Patent dated 27 May 1937 re-conferred the "title, style, or attribute of Royal Highness" upon the Duke of Windsor, but specifically stated that "his wife and descendants, if any, shall not hold said title or attribute". Some British ministers advised that the reconfirmation was unnecessary since Edward had retained the style automatically, and further that Simpson would automatically obtain the rank of wife of a prince with the style Her Royal Highness; others maintained that he had lost all royal rank and should no longer carry any royal title or style as an abdicated king, and be referred to simply as "Mr Edward Windsor". On 14 April 1937, Attorney General Sir Donald Somervell submitted to Home Secretary Sir John Simon a memorandum summarising the views of Lord Advocate T. M. Cooper, Parliamentary Counsel Sir Granville Ram, and himself:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.[67]
Château de Candé, the Windsors' wedding venue

The Duke of Windsor married Simpson, who had changed her name by deed poll to Wallis Warfield, in a private ceremony on 3 June 1937, at Château de Candé, near Tours, France. When the Church of England refused to sanction the union, a County Durham clergyman, the Reverend Robert Anderson Jardine (Vicar of St Paul's, Darlington), offered to perform the ceremony, and the Duke accepted. The new king, George VI, forbade members of the Royal Family to attend[68] to the lasting resentment of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Edward had particularly wanted his brothers the Dukes of Gloucester and Kent and his second cousin Louis Mountbatten to attend the ceremony.[69]

The denial of the style Her Royal Highness to the Duchess of Windsor caused further conflict, as did the financial settlement – the Government declined to include the Duke or Duchess on the Civil List, and the Duke's allowance was paid personally by George VI. The Duke compromised his position with his brother by concealing the extent of his financial worth when they informally agreed on the amount of the allowance. Edward's wealth had accumulated from the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall paid to him as Prince of Wales and ordinarily at the disposal of an incoming king. George VI also paid Edward for Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle, which were Edward's personal property, inherited from his father, George V, and thus did not automatically pass to George VI on his accession.[70] Relations between the Duke of Windsor and the rest of the Royal Family were strained for decades. Edward became embittered against his mother, Queen Mary, writing to her in 1939: "[your last letter][N 3] destroy[ed] the last vestige of feeling I had left for you ... [and has] made further normal correspondence between us impossible."[71] In the early days of George VI's reign the Duke telephoned daily, importuning for money and urging that the Duchess be granted the style of Royal Highness, until the harassed king ordered that the calls not be put through.[72]

The Duke had assumed that he would settle in Britain after a year or two of exile in France. King George VI (with the support of Queen Mary and his wife Queen Elizabeth) threatened to cut off Edward's allowance if he returned to Britain without an invitation.[70]

Second World War[edit]

The Duke and Duchess with Adolf Hitler, 1937
Edward reviewing a squad of SS with Robert Ley, 1937

In October 1937, the Duke and Duchess visited Germany, against the advice of the British government, and met Adolf Hitler at his Obersalzberg retreat. The visit was much publicised by the German media. During the visit the Duke gave full Nazi salutes.[73] The former Austrian ambassador, Count Albert von Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein, who was also a second cousin once removed and friend of George V, believed that Edward favoured German fascism as a bulwark against communism, and even that he initially favoured an alliance with Germany.[74] Edward's experience of "the unending scenes of horror"[75] during the First World War led him to support appeasement. Hitler considered Edward to be friendly towards Nazi Germany and thought that Anglo-German relations could have been improved through Edward if it were not for the abdication. Fellow Nazi Albert Speer quoted Hitler directly: "I am certain through him permanent friendly relations could have been achieved. If he had stayed, everything would have been different. His abdication was a severe loss for us."[76]

The Duke and Duchess settled in France. On the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, they were brought back to Britain by Louis Mountbatten on board HMS Kelly, and the Duke, although an honorary field marshal, was made a major-general attached to the British Military Mission in France.[11] In February 1940, the German ambassador in The Hague, Count Julius von Zech-Burkersroda, claimed that the Duke had leaked the Allied war plans for the defence of Belgium.[77] When Germany invaded the north of France in May 1940, the Windsors fled south, first to Biarritz, then in June to Spain. In July the pair moved to Lisbon, Portugal, where they lived at first in the home of Ricardo de Espírito Santo, a Portuguese banker with both British and German contacts.[78]

Nazi agents plotted unsuccessfully to persuade the Duke to support the German effort and wrote up plans to kidnap him. Lord Caldecote wrote a warning to Winston Churchill: "[the Duke] is well-known to be pro-Nazi and he may become a centre of intrigue."[79] A "defeatist" interview with the Duke that was widely distributed may have served as the last straw for the British government: Prime Minister Winston Churchill threatened the Duke with a court-martial if he did not return to British soil.[80] In August, a British warship dispatched the Duke and Duchess to the Bahamas, where, in the view of Churchill, they could do the least damage to the British war effort.

The Duke was installed as Governor of the Bahamas. He did not enjoy the position, and referred to the islands as "a third-class British colony".[81] The British Foreign Office strenuously objected when the Duke and Duchess planned to tour aboard a yacht belonging to a Swedish magnate, Axel Wenner-Gren, whom American intelligence wrongly believed to be a close friend of Luftwaffe commander Hermann Göring.[82] The Duke was praised, however, for his efforts to combat poverty on the islands, although he was as contemptuous of the Bahamians as he was of most non-white peoples of the Empire. He said of Étienne Dupuch, the editor of the Nassau Daily Tribune: "It must be remembered that Dupuch is more than half Negro, and due to the peculiar mentality of this Race, they seem unable to rise to prominence without losing their equilibrium."[30] He was praised, even by Dupuch, for his resolution of civil unrest over low wages in Nassau in 1942, even though he blamed the trouble on "mischief makers – communists" and "men of Central European Jewish descent, who had secured jobs as a pretext for obtaining a deferment of draft".[83] He resigned the post on 16 March 1945.[11]

The Duke in 1945

Many historians have suggested that Hitler was prepared to reinstate Edward as king in the hope of establishing a fascist Britain.[84] It is widely believed that the Duke and Duchess sympathised with fascism before and during World War II, and were moved to the Bahamas to minimise their opportunities to act on those feelings. In 1940 he said: "In the past 10 years Germany has totally reorganised the order of its society ... Countries which were unwilling to accept such a reorganisation of society and its concomitant sacrifices should direct their policies accordingly."[85] During the occupation of France, the Duke asked the German forces to place guards at his Paris and Riviera homes: they did so.[86] The Allies became sufficiently disturbed by German plots that U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered covert surveillance of the Duke and Duchess when they visited Palm Beach, Florida, in April 1941. Duke Carl Alexander of Württemberg (then a monk in an American monastery) had told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the Duchess had slept with the German ambassador in London, Joachim von Ribbentrop, in 1936, had remained in constant contact with him, and had continued to leak secrets.[87]

Author Charles Higham claimed that Anthony Blunt, an MI5 agent, acting on orders from the British Royal Family, made a successful secret trip to Schloss Friedrichshof in Germany towards the end of the war to retrieve sensitive letters between the Duke of Windsor and Adolf Hitler and other leading Nazis.[88] What is certain is that George VI sent the Royal Librarian, Owen Morshead, accompanied by Blunt, then working part-time in the Royal Library as well as for British intelligence, to Friedrichshof in March 1945 to secure papers relating to the German Empress Victoria, the eldest child of Queen Victoria. Looters had stolen part of the castle's archive, including surviving letters between daughter and mother, as well as other valuables, some of which were only later recovered in Chicago after the war. The papers rescued by Morshead and Blunt, and those returned by the American authorities from Chicago, were deposited in the Royal Archives.[89]

After the war, the Duke admitted in his memoirs that he admired the Germans, but he denied being pro-Nazi. Of Hitler he wrote: "[the] Führer struck me as a somewhat ridiculous figure, with his theatrical posturings and his bombastic pretensions."[90] However, during the 1960s he said privately to a friend, Lord Kinross, "I never thought Hitler was such a bad chap."[91] In the 1950s, journalist Frank Giles heard the Duke blame British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden for helping to "precipitate the war through his treatment of Mussolini ... that's what he did, he helped to bring on the war ... and of course Roosevelt and the Jews".[92]

Later life[edit]

The couple returned to France and spent the remainder of their lives essentially in retirement as the Duke never occupied another official role after his wartime governorship of the Bahamas. The Duke's allowance was supplemented by government favours and illegal currency trading.[11][93][94] The City of Paris provided the Duke with a house at 4 Route du Champ d'Entraînement, on the Neuilly-sur-Seine side of the Bois de Boulogne, for a nominal rent.[95] The French government exempted him from paying income tax,[93][96] and the couple were able to buy goods duty-free through the British embassy and the military commissary.[96] In 1951, the Duke produced a ghost-written memoir, A King's Story, in which he expresses disagreement with liberal politics.[16] The royalties from the book added to their income.[93] Nine years later, he penned a relatively unknown book, A Family Album, chiefly about the fashion and habits of the Royal Family throughout his life, from the time of Queen Victoria to that of his grandfather and father, and his own tastes.

U.S. President Richard Nixon and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in 1970

The Duke and Duchess effectively took on the role of celebrities and were regarded as part of café society in the 1950s and 1960s. They hosted parties and shuttled between Paris and New York; Gore Vidal, who met the Windsors socially, reported on the vacuity of the Duke's conversation.[97] The couple doted on the pug dogs they kept.[98]

In June 1953, instead of attending the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in London, the Duke and Duchess watched the ceremony on television in Paris. The Duke said that it was contrary to precedent for a Sovereign or former Sovereign to attend any coronation of another. The Duke was paid to write articles on the ceremony for the Sunday Express and Women's Home Companion, as well as a short book, The Crown and the People, 1902–1953.[99]

In 1955, they visited President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the White House. The couple appeared on Edward R. Murrow's television interview show Person to Person in 1956,[100] and a 50-minute BBC television interview in 1970. That year, they were invited as guests of honour to a dinner at the White House by President Richard Nixon.[101]

The Royal Family never fully accepted the Duchess. Queen Mary refused to receive her formally. However, the Duke sometimes met his mother and brother George VI, and attended George's 1952 funeral. Queen Mary remained angry with Edward and indignant over his marriage to Wallis: "To give up all this for that", she said.[102] In 1965, the Duke and Duchess returned to London. They were visited by Elizabeth II, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, and Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood. A week later, the Princess Royal died, and they attended her memorial service. In 1967, they joined the Royal Family for the centenary of Queen Mary's birth. The last royal ceremony the Duke attended was the funeral of Princess Marina in 1968.[103] He declined an invitation from Elizabeth II to attend the Investiture of the Prince of Wales in 1969, replying that Prince Charles would not want his "aged great-uncle" there.[104]

In the 1960s, the Duke's health deteriorated. In December 1964, he was operated on by Michael E. DeBakey in Houston for an aneurysm of the abdominal aorta, and in February 1965 a detached retina in his left eye was treated by Sir Stewart Duke-Elder. In late 1971, the Duke, who was a smoker from an early age, was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent cobalt therapy. Queen Elizabeth II visited the Windsors in 1972 while on a state visit to France; however, only the Duchess appeared with the royal party for a photocall.

Death and legacy[edit]

On 28 May 1972, the Duke died at his home in Paris, less than a month before his 78th birthday. His body was returned to Britain, lying in state at St George's Chapel, 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, who stayed at Buckingham Palace during her visit. The coffin was buried in the Royal Burial Ground behind the Royal Mausoleum of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Frogmore.[105] Until a 1965 agreement with Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke and Duchess had previously planned for a burial in a purchased cemetery plot at Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, where the father of the Duchess was interred.[106]

Frail, and suffering increasingly from dementia, the Duchess died 14 years later, and was buried alongside her husband as "Wallis, Duchess of Windsor".[107]

In the view of historians such as Professor Philip Williamson, the popular perception that the abdication was driven by politics rather than religious morality is false, and arises because divorce today is much more common and socially acceptable, so the religious restrictions that prevented Edward continuing as king while married to Simpson "seem, wrongly, to provide insufficient explanation" for his abdication.[108]

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 23 June 1894 – 28 May 1898: His Highness Prince Edward of York
  • 28 May 1898 – 22 January 1901: His Royal Highness Prince Edward of York[109]
  • 22 January 1901 – 9 November 1901: His Royal Highness Prince Edward of Cornwall and York
  • 9 November 1901 – 6 May 1910: His Royal Highness Prince Edward of Wales
  • 6 May 1910 – 23 June 1910: His Royal Highness The Duke of Cornwall
  • 23 June 1910 – 20 January 1936: His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
    • in Scotland: 1910–1936: His Royal Highness The Prince Edward, Duke of Rothesay
  • 20 January 1936 – 11 December 1936: His Majesty The King
    • and, occasionally, outside the United Kingdom, and with regard to India: His Imperial Majesty The King-Emperor
  • 11 December 1936 – 8 March 1937: His Royal Highness The Prince Edward
  • 8 March 1937 – 28 May 1972: His Royal Highness The Duke of Windsor
    • Edward began use of the title immediately upon abdication, in accordance with George VI's declaration to his Accession Council, but several months passed before the title was formalised by Letters Patent.

His full style as king was "His Majesty, Edward the Eighth, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland, and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India".

Honours[edit]

British honours

Edward lost almost all of his British honours upon accession, because he became sovereign of the orders. When he was no longer sovereign, his brother reinstated his pre-accession honours.

Foreign honours

Military[edit]

Honorary degrees[edit]

  • Hon LLD: Edinburgh, Toronto, Alberta and Queen's University Kingston (Ontario) 1919, Melbourne 1920, Cambridge and Calcutta 1921, St Andrews and Hong Kong 1922, Witwatersrand 1925
  • Hon DCL: Oxford 1921
  • DSc and Hon MCom: London 1921
  • DLitt: Benares 1921

Arms[edit]

As Prince of Wales, Edward's arms were the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, differenced with a label of three points argent, with an inescutcheon representing Wales surmounted by a coronet (identical to those of Charles, the current Prince of Wales). As Sovereign, he bore the royal arms undifferenced. After his abdication, he used the arms again differenced by a label of three points argent, but this time with the centre point bearing an imperial crown.[117]

See adjacent text
Coat of arms of Edward, Prince of Wales, (1911–1936) 
Coat of arms of Edward VIII of the United Kingdom (1936) 
Coat of arms of Edward VIII of the United Kingdom (in Scotland) (1936) 
See adjacent text
Coat of arms of Edward, Duke of Windsor (1936–1972) 

Ancestry[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ His twelve godparents were: Queen Victoria (his paternal great-grandmother); the King and Queen of Denmark (his paternal great-grandparents, for whom his maternal uncle Prince Adolphus of Teck and his paternal aunt the Duchess of Fife stood proxy); the King of Württemberg (his mother's distant cousin, for whom his granduncle the Duke of Connaught stood proxy); the Queen of Greece (his grandaunt, for whom his paternal aunt Princess Victoria of Wales stood proxy); the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (his granduncle, for whom Prince Louis of Battenberg stood proxy); the Prince and Princess of Wales (his paternal grandparents); the Tsarevich (his father's cousin); the Duke of Cambridge (his maternal granduncle and Queen Victoria's cousin); and the Duke and Duchess of Teck (his maternal grandparents).
  2. ^ There were fifteen separate copies – one for each Dominion, the Irish Free State, India, the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Prime Minister, among others.
  3. ^ She had asked Alec Hardinge to write to the Duke explaining that he could not be invited to his father's memorial.

References[edit]

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  3. ^ Ziegler, p. 5
  4. ^ Ziegler, p. 6
  5. ^ Windsor, p. 7; Ziegler, p. 9
  6. ^ Windsor, pp. 25–28
  7. ^ Ziegler, pp. 30–31
  8. ^ Windsor, pp. 38–39
  9. ^ Ziegler, p. 79
  10. ^ Parker, pp. 12–13
  11. ^ a b c d e f Matthew, H. C. G. (September 2004; online edition January 2008) "Edward VIII, later Prince Edward, duke of Windsor (1894–1972)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31061, retrieved 1 May 2010 (Subscription required)
  12. ^ Parker, pp. 13–14
  13. ^ Polo Monthly. June 1914. p. 300. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  14. ^ Parker, pp. 14–16
  15. ^ Weir, Alison (1996), Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy Revised edition, London: Pimlico, p. 327, ISBN 0-7126-7448-9 
  16. ^ a b Windsor, p. 78
  17. ^ Ziegler, pp. 26–27
  18. ^ Windsor, pp. 106–107 and Ziegler, pp. 48–50
  19. ^ Roberts, p. 41 and Windsor, p. 109
  20. ^ Ziegler, p. 111 and Windsor, p. 140
  21. ^ Edward VIII (Jan–Dec 1936), Official website of the British monarchy, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  22. ^ University of Oxford 1926-27, UK, Report of British Association for the Advancement of Science -. "Report of British Association for the Advancement of Science". archive.org. British Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  23. ^ Windsor, p. 215
  24. ^ Voisey, Paul (2004), High River and the Times: an Alberta community and its weekly newspaper, 1905–1966, Edmonton, Alberta: University of Alberta, p. 129, ISBN 0-88864-411-6 
  25. ^ Prince of Wales Trophy, National Hockey League, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  26. ^ Erskine, Barry, "Oropesa (II)", Pacific Steam Navigation Company, retrieved 15 December 2013 
  27. ^ "Arrival at Windsor by Air", The Straits Times (National Library, Singapore), 30 April 1931, retrieved 18 December 2013 
  28. ^ "Princes Home", The Advertiser and Register (National Library of Australia), 1 May 1931, retrieved 18 December 2013 
  29. ^ Broad, Lewis (1961), The Abdication: Twenty-five Years After. A Re-appraisal, London: Frederick Muller Ltd, pp. 4–5 
  30. ^ a b Ziegler, p. 448
  31. ^ Godfrey, Rupert, ed. (1998). "11 July 1920". Letters From a Prince: Edward to Mrs. Freda Dudley Ward 1918–1921. Little, Brown & Co. ISBN 0-7515-2590-1. 
  32. ^ Lascelles, Sir Alan 'Tommy' (20 November 2006), "Prince Charmless: A damning portrait of Edward VIII", Daily Mail, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  33. ^ Middlemas, Keith; Barnes, John (1969), Baldwin: A Biography, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, p. 976, ISBN 0-297-17859-8 
  34. ^ "Foreign News: P'incess Is Three", Time, 29 April 1929, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  35. ^ Airlie, Mabell (1962), Thatched with Gold, London: Hutchinson, p. 197 
  36. ^ Windsor, p. 235
  37. ^ Ziegler, p. 233
  38. ^ Windsor, p. 255
  39. ^ Bradford, p. 142
  40. ^ Bowcott, Owen; Bates, Stephen (30 January 2003), "Car dealer was Wallis Simpson's secret lover", The Guardian (London), retrieved 1 May 2010 
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  42. ^ Windsor, p. 265
  43. ^ Ziegler, pp. 273–274
  44. ^ Windsor, pp. 293–294
  45. ^ A. Michie, God Save The Queen
  46. ^ Coinage and bank notes, Official website of the British monarchy, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  47. ^ "George Andrew McMahon: attempt on the life of H.M. King Edward VIII at Constitution Hill on 16 July 1936", MEPO 3/1713 (The National Archives, Kew), 2003, retrieved 5 March 2011 
  48. ^ Cook, Andrew (3 January 2003), "The plot thickens", The Guardian (London), retrieved 1 May 2010 
  49. ^ Broad, pp. 56–57
  50. ^ Antiques Roadshow, BBC One, 14 October 2007. Banqueting House staff discovered plans for the coronation, including a hand-drawn scheme for the decoration of the hall.
  51. ^ Windsor, pp. 330–331
  52. ^ Windsor, p. 346
  53. ^ Windsor, p. 354
  54. ^ Statute of Westminster 1931 c.4, UK Statute Law Database, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  55. ^ Ziegler, pp. 305–307
  56. ^ Bradford, p. 187
  57. ^ Bradford, p. 188
  58. ^ Windsor, pp. 354–355
  59. ^ Beaverbrook, Lord; Edited by A. J. P. Taylor (1966), The Abdication of King Edward VIII, London: Hamish Hamilton, p. 57 
  60. ^ Windsor, p. 387
  61. ^ Windsor, p. 407
  62. ^ Heard, Andrew (1990), Canadian Independence, Simon Fraser University, Canada, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  63. ^ Edward VIII, Broadcast after his abdication, 11 December 1936 (PDF), Official website of the British monarchy, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  64. ^ Ziegler, p. 336
  65. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34349. p. 8111. 12 December 1936.
  66. ^ Clive Wigram's conversation with Sir Claud Schuster, Clerk to the Crown and Permanent Secretary to the Lord Chancellor quoted in Bradford, p. 201
  67. ^ Attorney General to Home Secretary (14 April 1937) National Archives file HO 144/22945 quoted in Velde, François (6 February 2006) The drafting of the letters patent of 1937. Heraldica, retrieved 7 April 2009
  68. ^ Williams, Susan (2003), "The historical significance of the Abdication files", Public Records Office – New Document Releases – Abdication Papers, London (Public Records Office of the United Kingdom), retrieved 1 May 2010 
  69. ^ Ziegler, pp. 354–355
  70. ^ a b Ziegler, pp. 376–378
  71. ^ Ziegler, p. 384
  72. ^ Ziegler, p. 349
  73. ^ Donaldson, pp. 331–332
  74. ^ Papers of Count Albert von Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein (1861–1945) in the State Archives, Vienna, quoted in Rose, Kenneth (1983), King George V, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, p. 391, ISBN 0-297-78245-2 
  75. ^ Windsor, p. 122
  76. ^ Speer, Albert (1970), Inside the Third Reich, New York: Macmillan, p. 118 
  77. ^ Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918–1945 Series D, Volume VIII, quoted in Bradford, p. 434
  78. ^ Bloch, p. 91
  79. ^ Ziegler, p. 434
  80. ^ Bloch, p. 93
  81. ^ Bloch, p. 364
  82. ^ Bloch, pp. 154–159, 230–233
  83. ^ Ziegler, pp. 471–472
  84. ^ Ziegler, p. 392
  85. ^ Bloch, pp. 79–80
  86. ^ Roberts, p. 52
  87. ^ Evans, Rob; Hencke, David (29 June 2002), "Wallis Simpson, the Nazi minister, the telltale monk and an FBI plot", The Guardian (London), retrieved 2 May 2010 
  88. ^ Higham, Charles (1988), The Duchess of Windsor: The Secret Life, New York: McGraw-Hill Publishers, pp. 388–389
  89. ^ Bradford, p. 426
  90. ^ Windsor, p. 277
  91. ^ Lord Kinross (1974), "Love conquers all" in Books and Bookmen, vol. 20, p. 50
  92. ^ Sebba, Anne (1 November 2011), "Wallis Simpson, 'That Woman' After the Abdication", New York Times, retrieved 7 November 2011 
  93. ^ a b c Roberts, p. 53
  94. ^ Bradford, p. 442
  95. ^ Ziegler, pp. 534–535
  96. ^ a b Bradford, p. 446
  97. ^ Vidal, Gore (1995), Palimpsest: a memoir, New York: Random House, p. 206, ISBN 0-679-44038-0 
  98. ^ Farquhar, Michael (2001), A Treasure of Royal Scandals, New York: Penguin Books, p. 48, ISBN 0-7394-2025-9
  99. ^ Ziegler, pp. 539–540
  100. ^ "Peep Show", Time, 8 October 1956, retrieved 2 May 2010 
  101. ^ UPI. "Duke, Duchess Have Dinner With Nixons" The Times-News (Hendersonville, North Carolina) 6 April 1970; p. 13
  102. ^ Bradford, p. 198
  103. ^ Ziegler, pp. 554–556
  104. ^ Ziegler, p. 555
  105. ^ Ziegler, pp. 556–557
  106. ^ Rasmussen, Frederick (29 April 1986), "Windsors had a plot at Green Mount", The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore) 
  107. ^ Simple funeral rites for Duchess, BBC, 29 April 1986, retrieved 2 May 2010 
  108. ^ Williamson, Philip (2007), "The monarchy and public values 1910–1953", in Olechnowicz, Andrzej, The monarchy and the British nation, 1780 to the present, Cambridge University Press, p. 225, ISBN 978-0-521-84461-1 
  109. ^ Letters Patent, 28 May 1898
  110. ^ Privy Council Office (1 February 2012), Historical Alphabetical List since 1867 of Members of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, retrieved 29 March 2012 
  111. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh (ed.) (1977). Burke's Royal Families of the World, 1st edition. London: Burke's Peerage. pp. 311–312. ISBN 0-85011-023-8. 
  112. ^ a b c d e f g h i Cokayne, G.E.; Doubleday, H.A.; Howard de Walden, Lord (1940), The Complete Peerage, London: St. Catherine's Press, vol. XIII, pp. 116–117
  113. ^ The London Gazette: no. 32774. p. 8615. 5 December 1922.
  114. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33640. p. 5428. 2 September 1930.
  115. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34119. p. 15. 28 December 1934.
  116. ^ The Times, 19 September 1939, p. 6, col. F
  117. ^ Prothero, David (24 September 2002), Flags of the Royal Family, United Kingdom, retrieved 2 May 2010 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

Edward VIII
Cadet branch of the House of Wettin
Born: 23 June 1894 Died: 28 May 1972
Regnal titles
Preceded by
George V
King of Great Britain, Ireland and the
British dominions beyond the seas
Emperor of India

20 January – 11 December 1936
Succeeded by
George VI
British royalty
Preceded by
Prince George
later became King George V
Prince of Wales
Duke of Cornwall
Duke of Rothesay

1910–1936
Vacant
Title next held by
Prince Charles
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Charles Dundas
Governor of the Bahamas
1940–1945
Succeeded by
Sir William Lindsay Murphy
Honorary titles
Vacant
Title last held by
The Prince of Wales
Grand Master of the Order of St Michael
and St George

1917–1936
Succeeded by
The Earl of Athlone
New title Grand Master of the Order of the British Empire
1917–1936
Succeeded by
Queen Mary
Academic offices
New office Chancellor of the University of Cape Town
1918–1936
Succeeded by
Jan Smuts