King Edward VIII

February 16, 2012 by staff 

King Edward VIII, 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 Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India, from 20 January to 11 December 1936.

Before his accession to the throne, Edward was Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay. As a young man, he served in the British Armed Forces during the First World War and undertook several foreign tours on behalf of his father, George V. He was associated with a succession of older, married women but remained unmarried until his accession as king.

Only months into his reign, he caused a constitutional crisis by proposing marriage to the American socialite Wallis Simpson, who had divorced her first husband and was seeking a divorce from her second. The prime ministers of the United Kingdom and the Dominions opposed the marriage, arguing that the people would never accept a divorced woman with two living ex-husbands as queen. Additionally, such a marriage would have conflicted with Edward’s status as head of the Church of England, which opposed the remarriage of divorced people if their former spouses were still alive. Edward knew that the government led by British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin would resign if the marriage went ahead, which could have dragged the king into a general election and would ruin his status as a politically neutral constitutional monarch. Rather than end his relationship with Simpson, Edward abdicated. He was succeeded by his younger brother Albert, who chose the regnal name George VI. With a reign of 326 days, Edward was one of the shortest-reigning monarchs in British and Commonwealth history. He was never crowned.

After his abdication, he was created Duke of Windsor. He married Wallis Simpson in France on 3 June 1937, after her second divorce became final. Later that year, the couple toured Germany. During the Second World War, he was at first stationed with the British Military Mission to France but, after private accusations that he held Nazi sympathies, moved to the Bahamas after his appointment as Governor. After the war, he was never given another official appointment and spent the remainder of his life in retirement in France.

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