On 20 January 1936, Britain’s King George V died. He was a popular monarch with strong public morals, his son, Prince David acceded to the throne upon his father’s death.
He became King Edward VIII. A name chosen as opposed to King David as there had been no British monarch with the name King David before.
At first, Edward VIII’s public popularity was promising, however, this wasn’t to last. Behind the scenes, Edward was locked in a battle with the Church Of England and the Government of the day. He wished to marry his lover, the twice-divorced American, Wallis Simpson.
Things started to change from that time.
Some say her effect on the Monarchy is quite a lot. Even mentioning her name in Her Majesty’s presence causes the Queen to shudder. The problem wasn’t that King Edward wanted to marry an American. That was the least of the problems. But, the problem was that she was a ‘twice-divorced’ American.
Also read: A Deep Secret Queen Elizabeth Didn’t Want Us To Know About The Frogmore House.
Because King Edward VIII was head of the Church Of England, he could not marry Wallis Simpson. Her status was of a divorcee. At the time, the Church Of England didn’t really allow it. Edward tried in so many different ways to have Wallis as his wife.
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However, all he was told is that Wallis could remain as his mistress.
This was not something Edward wanted. His love for Wallis was so much that he wanted to see her as his Queen. His battle continued, with the British public. However, only until he, with the assistance of Parliament, decided that the only way he could be with her was to abdicate the throne and marry Wallis Simpson.
By October in 1936, there were rumours in high-society that King Edward planned to marry Wallis. And he wanted to to marry as soon as he was free to do so. Then on 10th December 1936, King Edward VIII, accompanied by his three brothers next in line to the throne, attended Fort Belvedere.
There, the Act of Abdication was signed by all four parties.
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This meant that Edward renounced the right of Kingship from him and all of his descendants. After the abdication, Edward was banished from the United Kingdom and went to live in France with Wallis Simpson. He married Wallis there. He wasn’t completely outcast, as he was given the title of HRH The Duke Of Windsor.
But, that was it for him. His wife was denied the style of HRH and became just Wallis, Duchess Of Windsor. She was simply styled as a peer and not a royal. Elizabeth II is said to attribute her father, George VI’s early demise to stress caused by the sudden abdication of Edward. She has still never spoken of Wallis publicly.
Then, King George VI acceded to the throne as King. If Edward hadn’t abdicated, then we may not have the Queen we do now. The whole future of the British Monarchy would have been different. This is why Edward’s abdication is a defining moment in the British monarchy’s history.