It is 80 years ago since the British Royal Family was rocked by the decision of Edward VIII to abdicate in order to marry his lover, Wallis Simpson.
Noone had expected that his love for this woman would have ended his reign thus, he had been raised with the expectation of becoming King of England, but his duty to his country came second to his love for Wallis.
Edward became King in January of 1936, upon the death of his father, George V. His coronation was planned for the following year. His current relationship with Wallis had been expected to end upon his accession and a suitable bride would be sought, but Edward had different ideas.
He is said to have wanted to marry Wallis and make her his Queen. This went against the wishes of the people in power, his mother, the wider royal family, politicians, clergy – but Edward was determined to have his woman!
I wonder if, at this stage, he had any idea what he would have to give up in order to wed her?
In any case by December, just 11 months later, his position was untenable and he was forced to make the biggest decision of his life. On the 11th, he gave that famous statement to his subjects, stating that he could not be King and carry out the duties required of that job, without Wallis by his side.
As most of the English newspapers had not reported on the relationship, the news came as a surprise to some people, and many were saddened, as Edward had been a popular Prince of Wales and was expected to make a popular King.
His brother came to the throne in his place, and took their father’s name of George as his regnal name, becoming George VI.
Will we see a similar situation in years to come with Charles and Camilla? Time will tell.
I watched an interesting programme on television about this the other day, effectively blaming the Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Lang for bringing down the King. I could not help to draw a comparison with Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Cardinal Wolsey.
In Tudor times, Henry wanted Anne as his queen and told Wolsey to arrange it, he could not and lost his position (would have been his head if he had not conveniently died before getting back to London!). In 1936, Edward wanted Wallis, the Archbishop said no and the King lost his postion instead! See my point??