Edward VIII

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King Edward VIII
Reign 20 January 1936 - 11 December 1936
Royal family House of Windsor
Born 23 June 1894
White Lodge, Richmond, London
Died 28 May 1972
Frogmore, Berkshire

Edward VIII and later the Duke of Windsor (born Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David Windsor) (23 June 1894 - 28 May 1972) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and other commonwealth realms and Emperor of India from 20 January 1936 until his abdication on 11 December 1936.


Prince Edward Albert Christian Andrew Patrick David was born at Richmond, Surrey, the eldest son of HRH the Duke of York (who later became King George V) and his wife, formerly HSH Princess Mary of Teck, who was a great granddaughter of George III and a second cousin of Queen Victoria.

Within the immediate family, he was always known as David, the last of his seven Christian names, four of whom indicated his association with the four nations within the United Kingdom; George for England, Andrew for Scotland, Patrick for Ireland and David for Wales. He automatically became Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Great Stward of Scotland when his father ascended the throne on 6 May 1910. He was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on 2 June 1910 and was officially invested as such in a special ceremony at Caernarfon Castle in 1911. It was the first time since the Middle Ages that such an event had taken place in Wales, and it occurred at the instigation of the Welsh politician, David Lloyd George, who at that time held the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Liberal government.

When the First World War broke out, David was old enough for active service and was keen to participate. Although he was allowed to join the army, he was kept well away from any action that might have threatened his safety. After the war, his conduct began to give cause for concern to his ultra-conservative parents, particularly when he enjoyed relationships with a series of married women, including Anglo-American textile heiress Freda Dudley Ward (née Winifred May Birkin, she married 1st William Dudley Ward and 2nd Pedro, marqués de Casa Maury) and the Viscountess Furness. It was Lady Furness (née Thelma Morgan), an American beauty of part-Chilean ancestry, who introduced him to a fellow American, Wallis Simpson. Simpson had divorced her first husband in 1927 and was now married to Ernest Simpson, an Anglo-American businessman. Mrs. Simpson and the Prince of Wales became lovers while his mistress Lady Furness was abroad.


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 to the throne from a window of St. James's Palace in the company of the then still-married Mrs. Simpson. Marriage to Mrs. Simpson was deemed impossible for the king, even after her second divorce was obtained, because he was head of the Church of England, which prohibited remarriage after divorce. Several alternative solutions were proposed, including a morganatic marriage, but Edward was adamant that he wished to marry Mrs. Simpson, and he eventually abdicated his throne on 11 December 1936. The abdication crisis caused a constitutional upheaval, and the throne passed to the Heir Presumptive, the king's next oldest brother Prince Albert, who became King George VI.


On 8 March 1937, George VI created his brother, the former king, Duke of Windsor. However, letters patent dated 27 May 1937, which reconferred upon the Duke of Windsor the 'title, style, or attribute of Royal Highness,' specifically stated that 'his wife and descendants, if any, shall not hold said title or attribute.' He married Mrs. Simpson in a private ceremony on 3 June 1937 at Chateau de Candé, Monts, France. None of the British royal family attended. The denial of the style HRH to the Duchess of Windsor, as well as the financial settlement between George V and the former king caused conflict, as did the financial settlement — the government declined to include the Duke or the Duchess on the Civil List, and the Duke's allowance was paid personally by the King.

He was appointed Governor of the Bahamas, a post he held until after the war ended in 1945, when the couple retired to France, where they spent much of the remainder of their lives. In recent years, it has been suggested that the Duke was a fascist sympathizer during the Second World War and was kept in the Bahamas to minimize his opportunities to act on those feelings. In later years, he was reunited with other members of the royal family on several occasions, but his wife was never accepted. He died in 1972 at Paris, and his body was returned to Britain for burial at Frogmore, near Windsor Castle. The Duchess of Windsor, on her death a decade and a half later, was buried alongside her husband in Frogmore.