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King Edward 8th

Updated on November 21, 2012


Edward 8th. 1894 to 1972

This is the English King who was never crowned. A fashion columnist of the day called him, ' The Golden Prince' because of his striking good looks and his immaculate golden hair. He was a renowned playboy, loving the night life of London and also loving the ladies, married or unmarried. His affairs with married women caused his father King George 5th untold heartache and sorrow as the prince, whose real names were Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, of which his family used David, would not be persuaded to settle down and marry. The king predicted that when David took the crown, he would ruin himself within a year. How true that was!

One of his affairs was with Freda Ward, the wife of a member of parliament, and after her, Thelma Lady Furness. Thelma was an American and she introduced David to a friend of hers, Mrs. Wallis Simpson. Mrs. Simpson was the wife of Ernest Simpson, an American businessman. Ernest was her second husband as she had been divorced from a Mr. E.Spencer, an American airman only a year before she married Simpson.

David and Mrs. Simpson started an affair that was to prove to be the costliest affair in the history of England. David was so besotted by her that he gave up the crown in 1936 and went into exile so that he could be with her.

The mistress

As was the normal practice, David being the eldest of the male children, was invested as Prince of Wales at Caernarvon Castle in 1911. When the 1914–1918 war with Germany began David was of age for active service, and he joined the Grenadier Guards but to his disappointment he was not allowed to fight in case he got caught by the enemy, which would have been very damaging. However he did visit the men in the trenches very often and saw active service.

Through the 1920s and early thirties David, represented his father the King on many visits both home and abroad. He visited the many countries of the British Empire and his good looks and single status had women queuing up to meet him. Once he had met up with Wallis Simpson, his days as a philanderer were over. He was smitten. In the summer of 1934 David invited Mr. and Mrs. Simpson to accompany him on a cruise on a luxurious yacht owned by Lord Moyne, an heir to the Guinness company. Unfortunately, Mr. Simpson couldn't go due to a business trip to America, so Wallis went alone. Wallis said later that this was when their love for each other started. Their affair was fine by the establishent of the time, as long as it was just an affair. Lots of kings and princes had mistresses, and it was accepted as being quite normal.

Prince of Wales Medallions


On 20th January 1936, King George 5th died and David succeeded him as King Edward 8th. David's lack of committment to the position of King was very quickly noticed as he was generally late for appointments, or he cancelled them at the last minute, and he was slow in attending to his vital paperwork. David was quoted as saying that he was 'tiring of the relentless grind of the King's daily life.'

Then, after a few months into his reign he stunned everyone by proposing marriage to Wallis, who was being divorced by Simpson. The establishment was struck with horror! The Prime Minister was dead against the marriage, ranting that the people of the United Kingdom would never accept a divorced woman as Queen, and that King Edward's position as head of the Church of England would be compromised, as the Church opposed the remarriage of divorced women while their husbands were still alive. The row continued all summer and into the winter. In November, Edward summoned the British Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin to the Palace and informed him that he would marry Wallace Simpson and that if that was not accepted, he would abdicate. The press, which up until then had not reported the affair, now splashed it across their newspapers that the king was about to abdicate. The nation was torn, some of the population seeing nothing wrong in having Wallis as Queen, others being dead against it. Then on the eight of December at dinner with his brother Albert, Duke of York and Stanley Baldwin, the king told them he'd made up his mind and he was going. Albert was stunned. This meant that he would now be King, a job he did not want and which he felt inadequate to perform, due to his speech impediment. He had been a stammerer all his life, he hated making speeches and he had been under the care of Mr. Lionel Logue a speech therapist for over ten years. Nevertheless, on the tenth of December 1936, the king signed an instrument of abdication in which he renounced the throne for himself and for his descendants. The next evening, Edward broadcast to the nation that he had found it impossible to carry on the heavy burden of responsibility without the help of the woman he loved. His reign had lasted 327 days. That same evening a destroyer took him across the channel to France. He was now in exile, where he remained for the rest of his life, living in happiness with Wallis. They married on 3 June 1937, at Château de Candé, near Tours in France. None of his family attended.

Edward 8th opening parliament

His one and only time
His one and only time


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    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 5 years ago from South Wales

      Thanks for commenting, Abbyfitz. They were very interesting times.

    • Abbyfitz profile image

      Abbyfitz 5 years ago from Florida

      Very good hub. I'm a royal family and history buff. Very interesting

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 5 years ago from South Wales

      Thanks for visiting, joanveronica. So much happened in the early part of the twentieth century, Queen Victoria, Edward 7th and then George 5th, all passing on. Edward 8th abdicating and George 6th thrown in the deep end.Very interesting times for royalty.

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi there, interesting article on a period that shaped British history and is still doing so today. Voted up and interesting! Have a good day!