In today’s post I want to discuss the momentous moment when King Edward VIII decided to abdicate the throne in order to marry twice divorced American Wallis Simpson. The line of succession drastically shifted leading to Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.
It has been quite a few months since I have last wrote an article for the blog and I apology. There has been a lot going on in my life involving work, kids, and going to school full-time. There has been a plan in place for me to get back to blog writing once the semester is over and what better way to start blogging again by opening up with a post related to my research paper involving a critical analysis of King Edward VII’s abdication and the ramifications it had on the monarchy, government, and British people.Today’s post will allow me to grab some extra points in one of my English courses. I wanted to provide some background on the changes the volunteering abdication had for many lives.
“A few hours ago I discharged my last duty as King and Emperor, and now that I have been succeeded by my brother, the Duke of York, my first words must be to declare my allegiance to him. This I do with all my heart. You all know the reasons which have impelled me to renounce the throne. But I want you to understand that in making up my mind I did not forget the country or the empire, which, as Prince of Wales and lately as King, I have for twenty-five years tried to serve.But you must believe me when I tell you that 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” — King Edward VII – December 11th, 1936.
King Edward VIII was in love and wanted to marry a woman the world couldn’t accept for many reasons. Wallis Simpson simply wasn’t good enough for the King of Great Britain. She was an American with no noble lineage and wasn’t even a citizen of the country her soon to be husband was leading. Ms. Simpson had two marriages that ended in divorce. This was a huge problem because the Church of England didn’t allow second marriages while a spouse still lived. They didn’t recognize divorce. King Edward was the head of Church of England so he couldn’t possibly have a marriage that his own church wouldn’t recognize. The announcement he would refuse to be king without his love shocked everybody and changed the line of succession. Edward’s younger brother would take the throne and eventually his eldest daughter would be Queen Elizabeth II.
The church of England would never marry anyone with a living husband let alone two of them and this was an obstacle.King Edward could have forced a civil ceremony but this would have placed him at odds with his church and people. He proposed that the two could have a morganatic marriage which would allow him to remain king and have Wallis Simpson at his side. She just wouldn’t be recognized as his consort. Simpson would have no titles and their children would not inherit the crown. That privilege would go to Edward’s brother than his young niece as heir. This however was rejected by officials and parliament. There was to be no compromise. On December 5th during his first year as King that is when he informed his advisers he would be abdicating the throne.
King Edward VIII was given three choices by his Prime Minister Baldwin. He could forget about marrying Wallis Simpson, Marry her despite opposition from his ministers, or abdicate the throne. These were all very difficult choices to make when Edward was dead set on marrying Ms. Simpson. He knew that he would marry her no matter what the consequences which effectively removed option one. The second option was also no good to him because it would cause more upheaval and unrest. If Edward married without consent than it would literally shut down the government leaving abdicating as the most painless option for all those involved. Once the couple married June 3rd, 1937. They left England to make a life away from the monarchy and watchful eye of the British masses. Edward did miss his home and family; however, the former king knew that distance was best so his brother King Geoge VI could make a success. Marrying Wallis Simpson was not an easy for him to make. The former king was now the Duke of Windsor and he had sacrificed much all in the name of love.
“While the Duchess and I have received the greatest courtesy in all the countries, especially France, where we have resided since our marriage, I have not lived out of England for over two years by preference.
I have remained away out of deference to my brother in order to leave the field clear for him to establish himself on the throne, which it is admitted he has succeeded in doing.”
- King Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/articles/king-edward-viii-and-mrs-simpson/.
- Greig, F. (2019, November 18). Why King Edward VIII abdicated the throne. Retrieved from https://inews.co.uk/culture/television/king-edward-viii-wallis-simpson-affair-the-crown-season-3-abdicate-throne-death-what-happened-1044439.
- Speech Collection. The History Place (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/edward.htm.