British History 2:
From the French Revolution to World War II
Topic: "Majesties and Royal Highnesses"

by Laura Cenicola & Mareike Aumann

Glossary: Edward VIII

Political Career:

After his father died in January 1936, Edward became King. When Wallis Simpson was granted a divorce from her husband in October, Edward wanted to marry her. His decision was against the opinion of his advisors, who thought, that he as the head of church should not marry a divorced woman. If Edward had tried to stay in office, the constitutional monarchy would have been damaged for good, so he signed an instrument of abdication on December 10th, freeing him from the crown, broadcasted to the nation and the Empire to explain his actions, then left for Europe and left the throne for his brother George VI. Edward had the second shortest reign in the English history. His wife said about him after he died: "He might have been a great King, the people loved him."

Personal Life:

Edward VIII was born on June 23rd in 1894 in Richmond, Surrey, as the oldest son of George V and Mary of Teck. When Edward's father became King in 1910, Edward was appointed Prince of Wales. During World War One he joined the Grenadier Guards but he was never allowed to participate in service actively. In the 1920´s, Edward travelled a lot, mostly throughout the Empire, to represent his father. These visits and appearances he made in areas of high unemployment in Britain during the Great Depression made him very popular. He had a number of meaningless affairs in the 1920s but finally fell in love with Wallis Simpson, who was married to an American business man.
In June 1937, Edward finally married Wallis Simpson and they were given the title of Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The couple spent two years in France and visited Germany in 1937 where they had a controversial meeting with Adolf Hitler. After the war had broken out, Edward became governor of the Bahamas, where he and his wife remained until the end of the war.
Towards the end of his life Edward only visited England casually, mainly to attend family funerals. The bitterness between him and his family never vanished.
Edward died of throat cancer on May 28th in Paris. He was buried close to Windsor.

 

 


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