Wednesday, May 28, 2014

EDWARD VIII ~ June 23, 1894 ~ May 28, 1972


Edward VIII (Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David; later The Duke of Windsor; 23 June 1894 – 28 May 1972) was King of the United Kingdom and the British dominions, and Emperor of India from 20 January 1936 until his abdication on 11 December 1936. After his father, George V, he was the second monarch of the House of Windsor, his father having changed the name of the royal house from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1917.

Before his accession to the throne, Edward held successively the titles of Prince Edward of York, Prince Edward of Cornwall and York, Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay, and Prince of Wales. As a young man, he served in World War I, undertook several foreign tours on behalf of his father, and was associated with a succession of older, married women.

Only months into his reign, Edward caused a constitutional crisis by proposing marriage to the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Although legally Edward could have married Mrs. Simpson and remained king, the prime ministers of the British Empire opposed the marriage, arguing that the people would never accept her as queen. Edward knew that the ministry of British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin would resign if the marriage went ahead, which could have dragged the King into a general election and ruined irreparably his status as a politically neutral constitutional monarch. Rather than give up Mrs. Simpson, Edward chose to abdicate, making him the only monarch of the Commonwealth realms to voluntarily relinquish the throne. With a reign of 325 days, he is one of the shortest-reigning monarchs in British and Commonwealth history, and was never crowned.

After his abdication, he reverted to the style of a son of the Sovereign, The Prince Edward, and was created Duke of Windsor on 8 March 1937. During World War II he was at first stationed with the British Military Mission to France, but after private accusations that he held pro-Nazi sympathies, was moved to The Bahamas as Governor and Commander-in-Chief. After the war, he was never given another official appointment, and spent the remainder of his life in retirement.


One of my peculiar interests is a collection of memorabilia from the Coronation of Edward VIII. It celebrates a non-event. I was amazed at how much stuff there was. But I guess it makes sense. It takes months, if not almost a year of preparation to get ready for a coronation. Originally I had just a ribbon. But then I looked around on eBay and found ceramic & porcelain teacups, teapots, plates, silk handkerchiefs, coins, medallions, candy tins, books, and even a bust. I have dozens of objects.

It drove Dennis to distraction. Why was I devoting any energy to such a weak man? Unlike most Americans, who think it romantic that he “gave up the throne for the woman he loved,” Dennis took the British view that Edward was a traitor. I really think he was disappointed in me for showing any interest at all. (He did, however, approve of the teacup commemorating Wallis' death.) Though I must say, that on our second trip to England in 1988, when Dennis took his beloved Bianchi bike with him, he rode all around Windsor Great Park and managed to find Fort Belvedere, (David’s country place and the site of the abdication broadcast) then rented by an Australian businessman. (It wasn't indicated on any map.) So Dennis must have had a spark of interest himself.

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