Following the death of his father King George V in January 1936, Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, the then Prince of Wales, was crowned King Edward VIII.
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The following day he watched the proclamation of his accession from St James’ Palace in the company of Wallis Simpson, the twice married American socialite.
It was obvious from the outset that Edward was besotted with Wallis and showered her with money and jewels causing his courtiers to become increasingly alarmed, as the affair started to interfere with his official duties and it became increasingly obvious to the court that the King was determined to marry her.
As the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Edward was not permitted to marry a divorced person whose ex-spouses were still alive. It was also felt by government that as a twice divorced woman, Wallis Simpson was politically,socially and morally unsuitable as a prospective consort.
Wallis was granted her decree nisi from her second husband on 27th October,1936 and less than a month later the King consulted with Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin on a way to marry her and still keep the throne.
Under pressure from the King’s Lord in Waiting, Wallis Simpson agreed, on 7th December 1936, to renounce the King. Edward was still determined to marry Wallis Simpson and indicated that he had no option but to abdicate if he wished to marry her.
On the 10th December 1936, in the presence of his three brothers, King Edward VIII signed the instrument of abdication and the following day his brother ascended to the throne as King George VI.
In a radio broadcast on 11th December,1936, Edward, now no longer King, said –
At long last I am able to say a few words of my own. I have never wanted to withhold anything, but until now it has not been constitutionally possible for me to speak.
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.
And I want you to know that the decision I have made has been mine and mine alone. This was a thing I had to judge entirely for myself. The other person most nearly concerned has tried up to the last to persuade me to take a different course. I have made this, the most serious decision of my life, only upon the single thought of what would in the end be best for all
This decision has been made less difficult to me by the sure knowledge that my brother, with his long training in the public affairs of this country and with his fine qualities, will be able to take my place forthwith, without interruption or injury to the life and progress of the Empire. And he has one matchless blessing, enjoyed by so many of you and not bestowed on me – a happy home with his wife and children.
During these hard days I have been comforted by Her Majesty my mother and by my family. The Ministers of the Crown, and in particular Mr Baldwin, the Prime Minister, have always treated me with full consideration. There has never been any constitutional difference between me and them and between me and Parliament. Bred in the constitutional tradition by my father, I should never have allowed any such issue to arise
Ever since I was Prince of Wales, and later on when I occupied the Throne, I have been treated with the greatest kindness by all classes of the people, wherever I have lived or journeyed throughout the Empire. For that I am very grateful
I now quit altogether public affairs, and I lay down my burden. It may be some time before I return to my native land, but I shall always follow the fortunes of the British race and Empire with profound interest, and if at any time in the future I can be found of service to His Majesty in a private station I shall not fail.
And now we all have a new King. I wish him, and you, his people, happiness and prosperity with all my heart. God bless you all. God Save The King.
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King Edward VIII was monarch for less than a year, he was later given the title Duke of Windsor by his brother King George VI. Edward married Wallis Simpson on 3rd June 1937 – no members of his family were present.
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