|Duke of Windsor|
| King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, Emperor of India |
|Reign||20 January 1936 – |
11 December 1936
|Born||23 June 1894|
White Lodge, Richmond, Surrey
|Died||28 May 1972 77) (aged|
4 Route du Champ d'Entraînement, Paris, France
|Burial||5 June 1972|
Wallis Simpson (m. 1937)
|House|| Windsor (from 1917)|
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (until 1917)
|Mother||Mary of Teck|
|Occupation||Governor of The Bahamas (1940–1945)|
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 of that year.
The Dominions were the semi-independent polities under the British Crown that constituted the British Empire, beginning with Canadian Confederation in 1867. "Dominion status" was a constitutional term of art used to signify an independent Commonwealth realm; they included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa, and the Irish Free State, and then from the late 1940s also India, Pakistan, and Ceylon. The Balfour Declaration of 1926 recognised the Dominions as "autonomous Communities within the British Empire", and the 1931 Statute of Westminster confirmed their full legislative independence.
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.
Emperor/Empressof India, shortened to King-Emperor or Queen-Empress, was a title used by British monarchs from 1 May 1876 to 22 June 1948. The Emperor/Empress's image was used to signify British authority—his/her profile, for instance, appearing on currency, in government buildings, railway stations, courts, on statues etc. "God Save the King" was the former national anthem of British India. Oaths of allegiance were made to the Emperor/Empress and his/her lawful successors by the governors-general, princes, governors, commissioners in India in events such as Imperial Durbars.
Edward was born during the reign of his great-grandmother Queen Victoria as the eldest child of the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George V and Queen Mary. He was created Prince of Wales on his sixteenth birthday, nine weeks after his father succeeded as king. As a young man, Edward served in the British Army during the First World War and undertook several overseas tours on behalf of his father. While Prince of Wales, he engaged in a series of affairs that worried his father and the British Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin.
Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. On 1 May 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India. Known as the Victorian era, her reign of 63 years and seven months was longer than that of any of her predecessors. It was a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change within the United Kingdom, and was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire.
Mary of Teck was Queen consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Empress consort of India as the wife of King George V.
Prince of Wales was a title granted to native Welsh princes before the 12th century; the term replaced the use of the word king. One of the last Welsh princes, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, was killed in battle in 1282 by Edward I, King of England, whose son Edward was invested as the first English Prince of Wales in 1301.
Edward became king on his father's death. However, he showed impatience with court protocol, and caused concern among politicians by his apparent disregard for established constitutional conventions. Only months into his reign, he caused a constitutional crisis by proposing to Wallis Simpson, an American 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 a divorced woman with two living ex-husbands was politically and socially unacceptable as a prospective 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 disapproved of remarriage after divorce if a former spouse was still alive. Edward knew the Baldwin government would resign if the marriage went ahead, which could have forced a general election and would have ruined his status as a politically neutral constitutional monarch. When it became apparent he could not marry Wallis and remain on the throne, he abdicated. He was succeeded by his younger brother, George VI. With a reign of 326 days, Edward is one of the shortest-reigning monarchs in British history.
In 1936, a constitutional crisis in the British Empire arose when King-Emperor Edward VIII proposed to marry Wallis Simpson, an American socialite who was divorced from her first husband and was pursuing the divorce of her second.
Wallis Simpson, later known as the Duchess of Windsor, was an American socialite whose intended marriage to the British king Edward VIII caused a constitutional crisis that led to Edward's abdication.
A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king, or an empress consort in the case of an emperor. A queen consort usually shares her husband's social rank and status. She holds the feminine equivalent of the king's monarchical titles, but historically, she does not share the king's political and military powers.
After his abdication, Edward was created Duke of Windsor. He married Wallis in France on 3 June 1937, after her second divorce became final. Later that year, the couple toured Germany. During the Second World War, Edward was at first stationed with the British Military Mission to France, but after private accusations that he was a Nazi sympathiser, he was appointed Governor of the Bahamas. After the war, Edward spent the rest of his life in retirement in France. He and Wallis remained married until his death.
Duke of Windsor was a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created on 8 March 1937, for former King Edward VIII, following his abdication on 11 December 1936. The dukedom takes its name from the town where Windsor Castle, a residence of English monarchs since the time of Henry I, following the Norman Conquest, is situated. Windsor has been the house name of the royal family since 1917.
Edward, Duke of Windsor, and Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, visited Nazi Germany in October 1937. Having abdicated the British throne in December 1936, and married Wallis Simpson in June 1937, the Duke of Windsor announced in September the same year that he intended to travel privately to Germany and the United States to tour factories. His interests, officially into researching the social and economic conditions of the working classes, were also entwined with the looming threat of war in Europe, and it may be that he saw himself as being something in the role of peacemaker between Britain and Germany. However, the British Government was firmly against such a visit; they suspected—correctly, as events showed—that the Nazis would use Edward's presence as a propaganda coup while revealing nothing to him that they did not wish him to see. However, the Duke was keen that his wife—who had not been accepted by the British establishment—experience a State Visit as his consort. He promised the government to keep a low profile, and the tour went ahead, taking place between 12 and 23 October.
Edward 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.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 Francis, Duke of Teck, and his wife Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge. At the time of his birth, he was third in the line of succession to the throne, behind his grandfather and father.
White Lodge is a Grade I listed Georgian house situated in Richmond Park, in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Formerly a royal residence, it now houses the Royal Ballet Lower School, instructing students aged 11–16.
Francis, Duke of Teck GCB GCVO, known as Count Francis von Hohenstein until 1863, was an Austrian-born nobleman who married into the British royal family. He was the father of Queen Mary, and thus a great-grandfather of the current British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Francis held the Austrian title of Count of Hohenstein, and the German titles of Prince (Fürst) and later Duke of Teck, and was given the style of Serene Highness in 1863. He was granted the British style of Highness in 1887.
Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge was a member of the British royal family, a granddaughter of George III, grandmother of Edward VIII and George VI and great-grandmother of Elizabeth II. She held the title of Duchess of Teck through marriage.
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.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 for her late husband Albert, Prince Consort, and the last four names – George, Andrew, Patrick and David – came from the patron saints of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. He was always known to his family and close friends by his last given name, David.
Edward White Benson was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1883 until his death. Prior to this, he was the first Bishop of Truro, serving from 1877 to 1883, and began construction of Truro Cathedral.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. The current archbishop is Justin Welby, who was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March 2013. Welby is the 105th in a line which goes back more than 1400 years to Augustine of Canterbury, the "Apostle to the English", sent from Rome in the year 597. Welby succeeded Rowan Williams.
Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, was the eldest child of the Prince and Princess of Wales and grandson of the reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria. From the time of his birth, he was second in the line of succession to the British throne, but never became king because he died before his father and grandmother.
As was common practice with upper-class children of the time, Edward and his younger siblings were brought up by nannies rather than directly by their parents. One of Edward's early nannies often abused him 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 him and the nanny away.The nanny was discharged after her mistreatment of the children was discovered.
Edward's father, though a harsh disciplinarian,was demonstrably affectionate, 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 as a prank, and encouraged them to confide in her.
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.
Edward was kept under the strict tutorship of Hansell until almost thirteen years old. Private tutors taught him German and French.Edward took the examination to enter the Royal Naval College, Osborne, and began there in 1907. Hansell had wanted Edward to enter school earlier, but the prince's father had disagreed. 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 made him infertile.
Edward automatically became Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay on 6 May 1910 when his father ascended the throne as George V on the death of Edward VII. He was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester a month later on 23 June 1910, his 16th birthday.Preparations for his future as king began in earnest. 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. He left Oxford after eight terms, without any academic qualifications.
Edward was officially invested as Prince of Wales in a special ceremony at Caernarfon Castle on 13 July 1911.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. Lloyd George invented a rather fanciful ceremony in the style of a Welsh pageant, and coached Edward to speak a few words in Welsh.
When the First World War broke out in 1914, Edward had reached the minimum age for active service and was keen to participate.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. Despite this, Edward witnessed trench warfare first-hand and visited 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. He undertook his first military flight in 1918, and later gained a pilot's licence.
Edward's youngest brother, Prince John, died at the age of 13 on 18 January 1919 after a severe epileptic seizure. ... No one can realize more than you how little poor Johnnie meant to me who hardly knew him ... I feel so much for you, darling Mama, who was his mother."Edward, who was 11 years older than John and had hardly known him, saw his death as "little more than a regrettable nuisance". He wrote to his mistress of the time that "[he had] told [her] all about that little brother, and how he was an epileptic. [John]'s been practically shut up for the last two years anyhow, so no one has ever seen him except the family, and then only once or twice a year. This poor boy had become more of an animal than anything else." He also wrote an insensitive letter to his mother which has since been lost. She did not reply, but he felt compelled to write her an apology, in which he stated: "I feel such a cold hearted and unsympathetic swine for writing all that I did
Throughout the 1920s, Edward, as the Prince of Wales, represented his father at home and abroad on many occasions. His 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.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.
He visited poverty-stricken areas of Britain,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, and in 1924, he donated the Prince of Wales Trophy to the National Hockey League. In 1929 Sir Alexander Leith, a leading Conservative in the north of England, persuaded him to make a three-day visit to the County Durham and Northumberland coalfields, where there was much unemployment. From January to April 1931, the Prince of Wales and his brother Prince George travelled 18,000 miles on a tour of South America, steaming out on the ocean liner Oropesa , and returning via Paris and an Imperial Airways flight from Paris–Le Bourget Airport that landed specially in Windsor Great Park.
Though widely travelled, Edward was racially prejudiced against foreigners and many of the Empire's subjects, believing that whites were inherently superior.In 1920, on a visit to Australia, 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."
In 1919, he agreed to be President of the organising committee for the proposed British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Park, north-west London. He wished the Exhibition to include "a great national sports ground", and so played a part in the creation of Wembley Stadium.
In 1917, during the First World War, Edward began a love affair with Parisian courtesan Marguerite Alibert (later Fahmy), who kept a collection of his indiscreet letters after he broke off the affair in 1918 to begin one with a married English textile heiress, Freda Dudley Ward.
Edward's womanising and reckless behaviour during the 1920s and 1930s worried Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, King George V, and those close to the prince. Alan Lascelles, the prince'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".George V was disappointed by his son'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 twelve months."
George V favoured his second son Albert ("Bertie") and Albert's daughter Elizabeth ("Lilibet"), later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II respectively. He told a courtier, "I pray to God that my eldest son will never marry and have children, and that nothing will come between Bertie and Lilibet and the throne."In 1929, Time magazine reported that Edward teased Albert's wife, also named Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother), 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".
In 1930, George V gave Edward the lease of Fort Belvedere in Windsor Great Park.There, he continued his relationships with a series of married women, including 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, U.S. naval officer Win Spencer, in 1927. 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, although the prince adamantly insisted to his father that he was not having an affair with her and that it was not appropriate to describe her as his mistress. Edward's relationship with Simpson, however, further weakened his poor relationship with his father. Although his parents met Simpson at Buckingham Palace in 1935, they later refused to receive her.
Edward's affair with an American divorcée 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."The prospect of having an American divorcée with a questionable past having such sway over the heir apparent led to anxiety among government and establishment figures.
King George V died on 20 January 1936, and Edward ascended the throne as King Edward VIII. The next day, accompanied by Simpson, he broke with custom by watching the proclamation of his own accession from a window of St James's Palace.He became the first monarch of the British Empire to fly in an aircraft when he flew from Sandringham to London for his Accession Council.
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"for the unemployed coal miners was seen as an attempt to guide government policy, though it has never been clear what sort of remedy he had 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 it was feared that Simpson and other house guests might read them, improperly or inadvertently revealing government secrets.
Edward's unorthodox approach to his role also extended to the coinage that bore his image. He broke with the tradition that the profile portrait of each successive monarch faced in the direction opposite to that of his or her predecessor. Edward insisted that he face left (as his father had done),to show the parting in his hair. Only a handful of test coins were struck before the abdication, and all are very rare. When George VI succeeded to the throne he also faced left to maintain the tradition by suggesting that, had any further coins been minted featuring Edward's portrait, they would have shown him facing right.
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".It is now thought that Bannigan had indeed been in contact with MI5, but the veracity of the remainder of his claims remains open.
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.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.
On 16 November 1936, Edward invited Prime Minister Baldwin to Buckingham Palace and expressed his desire to marry Simpson when she became free to remarry. 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 Simpson as queen.As king, Edward was the titular head of the Church, and the clergy expected him to support the Church's teachings. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Gordon Lang, was vocal in insisting that Edward must go.
Edward proposed an alternative solution of a morganatic marriage, in which he would remain king but Simpson would not become queen consort. She would enjoy some lesser title instead, and any children they might have would not inherit the throne. This was supported by senior politician Winston Churchill in principle, and some historians suggest that he conceived the plan.In any event, it was ultimately rejected by the British Cabinet as well as other Dominion governments. Their 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." The Prime Ministers of Australia (Joseph Lyons), Canada (Mackenzie King) and South Africa (J. B. M. Hertzog) made clear their opposition to the king marrying a divorcée; their Irish counterpart (Éamon de Valera) expressed indifference and detachment, while the Prime Minister of New Zealand (Michael Joseph Savage), having never heard of Simpson before, vacillated in disbelief. Faced with this opposition, Edward at first responded that there were "not many people in Australia" and their opinion did not matter.
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.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. He chose to abdicate.
Edward duly signed the instrumentsof 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. The document included these words: "declare my irrevocable determination to renounce the throne for myself and for my descendants and my desire that effect should be given to this instrument of abdication immediately". 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 had already consented to the abdication.
On the night of 11 December 1936, Edward, now reverted to the title and style of a prince, explained his decision to abdicate in a worldwide radio broadcast. 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." He added that the "decision was mine and mine alone ... The other person most nearly concerned has tried up to the last to persuade me to take a different course". Edward departed Britain for Austria the following day; he was unable to join Simpson until her divorce became absolute, several months later. His brother, the Duke of York, succeeded to the throne as George VI. George VI's elder daughter, Princess Elizabeth, became heir presumptive.
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 the "Duke of Windsor" with the style of Royal Highness .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 British House of Commons nor speak on political subjects in the House of Lords.
Letters Patent dated 27 May 1937 re-conferred the "title, style, or attribute of Royal Highness" upon the Duke, 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:
The Duke 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. George VI forbade members of the royal family to attend,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 Lord Louis Mountbatten to attend the ceremony.
The denial of the style 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 and thus did not automatically pass to George VI on his accession.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.
Relations between the Duke of Windsor and the rest of the royal family were strained for decades. 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. ... [and has] made further normal correspondence between us impossible."Edward became embittered against his mother, Queen Mary, writing to her in 1939: "[your last letter] destroy[ed] the last vestige of feeling I had left for you
In October 1937, the Duke and Duchess visited Nazi Germany, against the advice of the British government, and met Adolf Hitler at his Berghof retreat in Bavaria. The visit was much publicised by the German media. During the visit the Duke gave full Nazi salutes. ... members of the aristocracy would bow and curtsy towards her, and she was treated with all the dignity and status that the duke always wanted," according to royal biographer Andrew Morton.In Germany, "they were treated like royalty
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.According to the Duke of Windsor, the experience of "the unending scenes of horror" during the First World War led him to support appeasement. Hitler considered Edward to be friendly towards Germany and thought that Anglo-German relations could have been improved through Edward if it were not for the abdication. 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."
The Duke and Duchess settled in France. In May 1939, the Duke was commissioned by NBC to give a radio broadcast(his first since abdicating) during a visit to the battlefields of Verdun. In it he appealed for peace, saying "I am deeply conscious of the presence of the great company of the dead, and I am convinced that could they make their voices heard they would be with me in what I am about to say. I speak simply as a soldier of the Last War whose most earnest prayer it is that such cruel and destructive madness shall never again overtake mankind. There is no land whose people want war." The broadcast was heard across the world by millions. It was widely seen as supporting appeasement, and the BBC refused to broadcast it. It was broadcast outside the United States on shortwave radio and was reported in full by British broadsheet newspapers.
On the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, the Duke and Duchess were brought back to Britain by Louis Mountbatten on board HMS Kelly, and Edward, although an honorary field marshal, was made a major-general attached to the British Military Mission in France.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, which the Duke later denied. When Germany invaded the north of France in May 1940, the Windsors fled south, first to Biarritz, then in June to Francoist Spain. In July the pair moved to Portugal, where they lived at first in the home of Ricardo Espírito Santo, a Portuguese banker with both British and German contacts. Under the code name Operation Willi, Nazi agents, principally Walter Schellenberg, plotted unsuccessfully to persuade the Duke to leave Portugal and return to Spain, kidnapping him if necessary. Lord Caldecote wrote a warning to Winston Churchill, who was now prime minister: "[the Duke] is well-known to be pro-Nazi and he may become a centre of intrigue." Churchill threatened the Duke with a court-martial if he did not return to British soil.
In July 1940, Edward was appointed Governor of the Bahamas. The Duke and Duchess left Lisbon on 1 August aboard the American Export Lines steamship Excalibur, which was specially diverted from its usual direct course to New York City so that they could be dropped off at Bermuda on the 9th.They left Bermuda for Nassau on the Canadian steamship Lady Somers on 15 August, arriving two days later. The Duke did not enjoy being governor and privately referred to the islands as "a third-class British colony". The British Foreign Office strenuously objected when the Duke and Duchess planned to cruise aboard a yacht belonging to a Swedish magnate, Axel Wenner-Gren, whom British and American intelligence wrongly believed to be a close friend of Luftwaffe commander Hermann Göring. The Duke was praised 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." 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". He resigned from the post on 16 March 1945.
Many historians have suggested that Hitler was prepared to reinstate Edward as king in the hope of establishing a fascist Britain. ... Countries which were unwilling to accept such a reorganisation of society and its concomitant sacrifices should direct their policies accordingly." During the occupation of France, the Duke asked the German forces to place guards at his Paris and Riviera homes; they did so. In December 1940, the Duke gave Fulton Oursler of Liberty magazine an interview at Government House in Nassau. The interview was published on 22 March 1941 and in it the Duke was reported to have said that "Hitler was the right and logical leader of the German people" and that the time was coming for President Franklin D. Roosevelt to mediate a peace settlement. Oursler conveyed the content of the interview to the President in a private meeting at the White House on 23 December 1940. The Duke protested that he had been misquoted and misinterpreted.It is widely believed that the Duke and Duchess sympathised with fascism before and during the Second World War, 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
The Allies became sufficiently disturbed by German plots revolving around the Duke that President 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.
Author Charles Higham claimed that Anthony Blunt, an MI5 agent and Soviet spy, 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.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 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. In the late 1950s, documents recovered by U.S. troops in Marburg, Germany, in May 1945, since titled The Marburg Files, were published following more than a decade of suppression, enhancing theories of the Duke's sympathies for Nazi ideologies.
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." ... that's what [Eden] did, he helped to bring on the war ... and of course Roosevelt and the Jews". During the 1960s the Duke said privately to a friend, Patrick Balfour, 3rd Baron Kinross, "I never thought Hitler was such a bad chap."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
At the end of the war, the couple returned to France and spent the remainder of their lives essentially in retirement as the Duke never held another official role. Correspondence between the Duke and Kenneth de Courcy, dated between 1946 and 1949, emerged in a US library in 2009. The letters suggest a plot where the Duke would return to England and place himself in a position for a possible regency. The health of George VI was failing and de Courcy was concerned about the influence of the Mountbatten family over the young Princess Elizabeth. De Courcy suggested the Duke buy a working agricultural estate within an easy drive of London in order to gain favour with the British public and make himself available should the King become incapacitated. The Duke, however, hesitated and the King recovered from his surgery.
The Duke's allowance was supplemented by government favours and illegal currency trading.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. The French government exempted him from paying income tax, and the couple were able to buy goods duty-free through the British embassy and the military commissary. In 1952 they bought and renovated a weekend country retreat, Le Moulin de la Tuilerie at Gif-sur-Yvette, the only property the couple ever owned themselves. In 1951, the Duke had produced a ghost-written memoir, A King's Story, in which he expressed disagreement with liberal politics. The royalties from the book added to their income. 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.
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.The couple doted on the pug dogs they kept.
In June 1953, instead of attending the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, his niece, 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. He was paid to write articles on the ceremony for the Sunday Express and Woman's Home Companion , as well as a short book, The Crown and the People, 1902–1953.
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,and in a 50-minute BBC television interview in 1970. That year President Richard Nixon invited them as guests of honour to a dinner at the White House.
The royal family never fully accepted the Duchess. Queen Mary refused to receive her formally. However, Edward sometimes met his mother and his brother, George VI; he attended George's funeral in 1952. Queen Mary remained angry with Edward and indignant over his marriage to Wallis: "To give up all this for that", she said.In 1965 the Duke and Duchess returned to London. They were visited by Elizabeth II, his sister-in-law Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, and his sister 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. 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.
In the 1960s the Duke's health deteriorated. In December 1964 Michael E. DeBakey operated on him in Houston for an aneurysm of the abdominal aorta, and in February 1965 Sir Stewart Duke-Elder treated a detached retina in his left eye. In late 1971, the Duke, who was a smoker from an early age, was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent cobalt therapy. On 18 May 1972, Queen Elizabeth II visited the Windsors while on a state visit to France; she spoke with the Duke for fifteen minutes, but only the Duchess appeared with the royal party for a photocall as the Duke was too ill.
On 28 May 1972, ten days after the Queen's visit, 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 took place 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. He was buried in the Royal Burial Ground behind the Royal Mausoleum of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Frogmore. Until a 1965 agreement with the Queen, the Duke and Duchess had planned for a burial in a cemetery plot they had purchased at Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, where the Duchess's father was interred. Frail, and suffering increasingly from dementia, the Duchess died 14 years later, and was buried alongside her husband.
In the view of historians, such as Philip Williamson writing in 2007, the popular perception in the 21st century that the abdication was driven by politics rather than religious morality is false and arises because divorce has become much more common and socially acceptable. To modern sensibilities, the religious restrictions that prevented Edward from continuing as king while planning to marry Simpson "seem, wrongly, to provide insufficient explanation" for his abdication.
His full style as king was "Edward VIII, 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".
Upon his accession, Edward became sovereign of the various orders of the British Commonwealth and Empire, including those he had been appointed to prior to becoming king. After his abdication, the King, Edward's brother, reinstated his pre-accession honours.
Edward's coat of arms as the Prince of Wales was 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.
|Ancestors of Edward VIII|
George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death on 6 February 1952. He became known as a symbol of British determination to win the Second World War against Germany.
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 until his death in 1936.
Mountbatten-Windsor is the personal surname used by some of the male-line descendants of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Under a declaration made in Privy Council in 1960, the name Mountbatten-Windsor applies to male-line descendants of the Queen without royal styles and titles. Individuals with royal styles do not usually use a surname, but some descendants of the Queen with royal styles have used Mountbatten-Windsor when a surname was required.
The House of Windsor is the reigning royal house of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. The dynasty is originally of German paternal descent and was a branch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, itself derived from the House of Wettin, which succeeded the House of Hanover to the British monarchy following the death of Queen Victoria, wife of Albert, Prince Consort.
Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood was a member of the British royal family. She was the third child and only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary and was born during the reign of Queen Victoria, her great-grandmother. Mary was the paternal aunt of the current British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Her education started at home. World War I brought Mary out of seclusion as she launched a charity campaign to support British troops and sailors. She eventually became a nurse. Mary married Viscount Lascelles in 1922. She was an avid collector of jewellery.
Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, was the third son and fourth child of King George V and Queen Mary. He served as Governor-General of Australia from 1945 to 1947, the only member of the British royal family to hold the post.
Prince George, Duke of Kent, was a member of the British royal family, the fourth son of King George V and Queen Mary. He was the younger brother of Edward VIII and George VI. He served in the Royal Navy in the 1920s and then briefly as a civil servant. He became Duke of Kent in 1934. In the late 1930s he served as an RAF officer, initially as a staff officer at RAF Training Command and then, from July 1941, as a staff officer in the Welfare Section of the RAF Inspector General's Staff. He was killed in a military air-crash on 25 August 1942.
Prince John of the United Kingdom was the fifth son and youngest of the six children born to King George V and his wife, Queen Mary. At the time of John's birth, his father was the Prince of Wales and heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, King Edward VII. In 1910, George succeeded to the throne upon Edward's death and John became fifth in the line of succession to the British throne.
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, is a member of the British royal family. He is a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II through their fathers, Prince George, Duke of Kent, and King George VI. Because his mother, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark was a cousin of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Edward is both a second cousin and first cousin once removed to Prince Charles and his siblings.
Succession to the British throne is determined by descent, sex, legitimacy, and religion. Under common law, the Crown is inherited by a sovereign's children or by a childless sovereign's nearest collateral line. The Bill of Rights 1689 and the Act of Settlement 1701 restrict succession to the throne to the legitimate Protestant descendants of Sophia of Hanover who are in "communion with the Church of England". Spouses of Roman Catholics were disqualified from 1689 until the law was amended in 2015. Protestant descendants of those excluded for being Roman Catholics are eligible.
Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester was a great-granddaughter of King George II of Great Britain and niece of King George III.
Fort Belvedere is a Grade II* listed country house on Shrubs Hill in Windsor Great Park, in Surrey, England. The fort was predominantly constructed by Jeffry Wyatville in a Gothic Revival style in the 1820s.
Edward & Mrs. Simpson is a seven-part British television series that dramatises the events leading to the 1936 abdication of King Edward VIII, who gave up his throne to marry the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson.
Peregrine Francis Adelbert Cust, 6th Baron Brownlow, often known as Perry Brownlow, was a British peer and courtier. He was the son of Adelbert Salusbury Cockayne Cust, 5th Baron Brownlow, and his wife Maud Buckle.
Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson have been depicted in culture, both biographical and fictional, following his abdication in 1936 and their marriage the following year.
Cadet branch of the House of WettinBorn: 23 June 1894 Died: 28 May 1972
| King of the United Kingdom and the|
British Dominions; Emperor of India
20 January – 11 December 1936
later became King George V
| Prince of Wales |
Duke of Cornwall; Duke of Rothesay
Title next held byPrince Charles
Sir Charles Dundas
| Governor of the Bahamas |
Sir William Lindsay Murphy
Title last held byThe Prince of Wales
| Grand Master of the Order of St Michael|
and St George
The Earl of Athlone
|New title|| Grand Master of the Order of the British Empire |
| Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Auxiliary Air Force |
King George VI
|New office|| Chancellor of the University of Cape Town |