One of the most mysterious and sometimes shocking points in the history of the British Monarchy was what later became known as the 1936 abdication crisis.
The then Edward VIII had acceded to the throne at the death of his father, George V, on 20th January 1936 and was now King of the United Kingdom. It was reported that, during his life, George V had said, “when I am dead, that boy will ruin himself within twelve months”. He was right.
Less than twelve months into his reign, Edward VIII was to abdicate to marry his twice-divorced American lover, Wallis Simpson, whom he had not been allowed to marry whilst on the throne as it would have compromised his position as Head of the Church of England.
Edward had long been expected to pick a suitable bride, yet his temperament did not suit such a requirement. Edward though Wallis was exciting and wanted to make her Queen – he couldn’t.
On 11 December 1936, Edward abdicated and his brother, Prince Albert, who became George VI, acceded to the throne. Edward went off to marry Wallis in France and was rarely seen in Britain again. During the War, both he and Wallis stayed in France.
Once Edward abdicated, he lost his title as King and was referred to immediately after as Prince Edward. George VI had decided that he would give his brother the title of Duke of Windsor and style of HRH, but on the advice of Queen Mary, would refuse he style of HRH from Wallis, whom she now considered ‘the enemy’.
Edward was never quite forgiven for putting such a strain on Prince Albert, how never wanted nor expected to be King. He was happy to stay in his small family unit: Him, Elizabeth, Duchess of York; Princess Elizabeth (now Elizabeth II) and Princess Margaret, whom he referred to as ‘we four’.
He remained King until 1952 when he died and his daughter, Princess Elizabeth, became Queen. Elizabeth II never forgave Wallis Simpson for what she did to her father, regarding Wallis making Edward abdicate and thereby making George VI accede as a contributing factor to George’s early death.
Edward died on 28 May 1972 and wallis died just fourteen years later on 24 April 1986, 26 years ago today.