Edward VIII

Edward VIII
Edward VIII
later Duke of Windsor
Edward is young, clean-shaven and in military uniform
Edward in Canada, 1919
King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, Emperor of India (more...)
Reign 20 January 1936 – 11 December 1936
Predecessor George V
Successor George VI
Prime Ministers
Consort (post-abdication)
Wallis Warfield
Full name
Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David
House House of Windsor
Father George V
Mother Mary of Teck
Born 23 June 1894 (1894-06-23)
White Lodge, Richmond, Surrey, England
Died 28 May 1972 (1972-05-29) (aged 77)
4 Rue du Champ d'Entraînement, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris, France
Burial 5 June 1972
Frogmore, Berkshire

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 ruined irreparably his status as a politically neutral constitutional monarch. Rather than end his relationship with Mrs. 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.


Early life

Edward VIII was born on 23 June 1894 at White Lodge, Richmond Park, on the outskirts of London during the reign of his great-grandmother Queen Victoria.[1] He was the eldest son of the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary). His father was the son of the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra). His mother was the eldest daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Teck (Francis and Mary Adelaide). As a great-grandson of the monarch in the male line, Edward was styled His Highness Prince Edward of York at birth.

He was baptised Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David in the Green Drawing Room of White Lodge on 16 July 1894, by Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury.[N 1][2] The names were chosen in honour of Edward's late uncle, who was known to his family as "Eddy" or Edward, and his great-grandfather King Christian IX of Denmark. The name Albert was included at the behest of Queen Victoria, and his last four names – George, Andrew, Patrick and David – came from the Patron Saints of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. He was always known to his family and close friends by his last given name, David.

Edward's parents were often removed from their children's upbringing, like other upper-class English parents of the day. Edward and his younger siblings were brought up by nannies. One of his early nannies abused Edward by pinching him before he was due to be presented to his parents. His subsequent crying and wailing would lead the Duke and Duchess to send Edward and the nanny away.[3] The nanny was subsequently discharged.

Little David, photographed by his grandmother Queen Alexandra

Edward's father, though a harsh disciplinarian,[4] was demonstrably affectionate,[5] and his mother displayed a frolicsome side with her children that belied her austere public image. She was amused by the children making tadpoles on toast for their French master,[6] and encouraged them to confide in her.[7]


At first, Edward was tutored at home by Helen Bricka. When his parents travelled the British Empire for almost nine months following the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, young Edward and his siblings stayed in Britain with their grandparents, Queen Alexandra and King Edward VII, who showered their grandchildren with affection. Upon his parents' return, Edward was placed under the care of two men, Frederick Finch and Henry Hansell, who virtually brought up Edward and his siblings for their remaining nursery years.[8]

Edward was kept under the strict tutorship of Hansell until nearly 13; Hansell had wanted Edward to enter school earlier, but his father disagreed. Edward took the examination to enter Osborne Naval College, and began there in 1907.[9] Following two years at Osborne College, which he did not enjoy, Edward moved on to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth. A course of two years followed by entry into the Royal Navy was planned. However, Edward automatically became Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay when his father, George V, ascended the throne on 6 May 1910 following the death of Edward VII. Edward was created Prince of Wales a month later on his 16th birthday, on 23 June 1910, and the preparations began in earnest for his future duties as King. He was withdrawn from his naval course before his formal graduation, served as midshipman for three months aboard the battleship Hindustan, then immediately entered Magdalen College, Oxford, for which, in the opinion of his biographers, he was underprepared intellectually. He left Oxford after eight terms without any academic credentials.[10]

Prince of Wales

Medallion celebrating the investiture of Edward as Prince of Wales, 1911
Edward during the First World War

Edward was officially invested as Prince of Wales in a special ceremony at Caernarfon Castle on 13 July 1911.[11] The investiture took place in Wales, at the instigation of the Welsh politician David Lloyd George, Constable of the Castle and Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Liberal government.[12] Lloyd George invented a rather fanciful ceremony in the style of a Welsh pageant, and coached Edward to speak a few words in Welsh.

When the First World War (1914–18) broke out, Edward had reached the minimum age for active service and was keen to participate.[13] He had joined the Grenadier Guards in June 1914, and although Edward was willing to serve on the front lines, Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener refused to allow it, citing the immense harm that would occur if the heir to the throne were captured by the enemy.[14]

Despite this, Edward witnessed trench warfare firsthand and attempted to visit the front line as often as he could, for which he was awarded the Military Cross in 1916. His role in the war, although limited, made him popular among veterans of the conflict.[15] Edward undertook his first military flight in 1918 and later gained his pilot's licence.[16]

Throughout the 1920s Edward, as Prince of Wales, represented his father, King George V, at home and abroad on many occasions. He took a particular interest in visiting the poverty stricken areas of the country,[17] and undertook 16 tours to various parts of the Empire between 1919 and 1935; during a tour of Canada in 1919, he acquired the Bedingfield ranch, near Pekisko, Alberta.[18] In 1924, he donated the Prince of Wales Trophy to the National Hockey League.[19]

His attitudes towards many of the Empire's subjects and various foreign peoples, both during his time as Prince of Wales and later as Duke of Windsor, were little commented upon in their time but have soured his reputation subsequently.[20] He said of Indigenous Australians: "they are the most revolting form of living creatures I've ever seen!! They are the lowest known form of human beings & are the nearest thing to monkeys."[21]

His rank, travels, good looks, and unmarried status gained him much attention; he soon became the 1920s version of a latter-day movie star. At the height of his popularity, he became the most photographed celebrity of his time.[22]


Edward wearing a top hat and bow tie
Edward in 1932

Edward's compulsive womanising and other instances of reckless behaviour during the 1920s and 1930s worried Prime Minister Baldwin, King George V, and those close to the prince. Alan Lascelles, Edward's private secretary for eight years during this period, believed that "for some hereditary or physiological reason his normal mental development stopped dead when he reached adolescence".[23] George V was disappointed by Edward's failure to settle down in life and disgusted by his many affairs with married women. The King was reluctant to see Edward inherit the Crown, and was quoted as saying of Edward: "After I am dead, the boy will ruin himself in 12 months."[24]

In 1929, Time magazine reported that Edward teased his new sister-in-law, Elizabeth, the wife of his younger brother Albert, by calling her "Queen Elizabeth". The magazine asked if "she did not sometimes wonder how much truth there is in the story that he once said he would renounce his rights upon the death of George V – which would make her nickname come true".[25] Edward grew older and remained unmarried, but his brother and sister-in-law had two children, including Princess Elizabeth. King George V said of his son Albert ("Bertie"), and granddaughter Elizabeth ("Lilibet"): "I pray to God that my eldest son [Edward] will never marry and have children, and that nothing will come between Bertie and Lilibet and the throne."[26]

In 1930, the King gave Edward a home, Fort Belvedere, in Windsor Great Park.[27] There, Edward had relationships with a series of married women including half-British, half-American textile heiress Freda Dudley Ward, and Lady Furness, an American of part-Chilean ancestry, who introduced the Prince to fellow American Wallis Simpson. Mrs. Simpson had divorced her first husband in 1927 and subsequently married Ernest Simpson, a half-British, half-American businessman. Mrs. Simpson and the Prince of Wales, it is generally accepted, became lovers while Lady Furness travelled abroad, though Edward adamantly insisted to his father, the King, that he was not intimate with her and that it was not appropriate to describe her as his mistress.[28] Edward's relationship with Mrs. Simpson further weakened his poor relationship with his father. Although the King and Queen met Mrs. Simpson at Buckingham Palace in 1935,[29] they later refused to receive her.[30]

Edward's affair with the American divorcee led to such grave concern that the couple were followed by members of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch, who examined in secret the nature of their relationship. An undated report detailed a visit by the couple to an antique shop, where the proprietor later noted: "that the lady seemed to have POW [Prince of Wales] completely under her thumb."[31] The prospect of having an American divorcee with a questionable past having such sway over the heir apparent led to anxiety amongst government and establishment figures.


King George V died on 20 January 1936, and Edward ascended the throne as King Edward VIII. The next day, he broke royal protocol by watching the proclamation of his own accession to the throne from a window in the company of the then still-married Mrs. Simpson.[32] Edward VIII became the first monarch of the Commonwealth realms to fly in an aircraft when he flew from Sandringham to London for his Accession Council.[33]

Edward caused unease in government circles with actions that were interpreted as interference in political matters. His comment upon visiting the depressed coal mining villages in South Wales that "something must be done"[33] for the unemployed coal miners was seen as directly critical of the Government, though it has never been clear whether Edward had anything in particular in mind. Government ministers were reluctant to send confidential documents and state papers to Fort Belvedere because it was clear that Edward was paying little attention to them and because of the perceived danger that Mrs. Simpson and other house guests might see them.[34]

Left-facing currency portrait of Edward VIII

Edward's unorthodox approach to his role also extended to the currency which bore his image. He broke with the tradition that on coinage each successive monarch faced in the opposite direction to his or her predecessor. Edward insisted that he face left (as his father had done),[35] to show the parting in his hair.[36] Only a handful of test coins were struck before the abdication, and when George VI succeeded to the throne he also faced left, to maintain the tradition by suggesting that had any coins been minted featuring Edward's portrait, they would have shown him facing right.[37]

On 16 July 1936, an Irish fraudster called Jerome Bannigan, alias George Andrew McMahon, produced a loaded revolver as the King rode on horseback at Constitution Hill, near Buckingham Palace. Police spotted the gun and pounced on him; he was quickly arrested. At Bannigan's trial, he alleged that "a foreign power" had approached him to kill Edward, that he had informed MI5 of the plan, and that he was merely seeing the plan through to help MI5 catch the real culprits. The court rejected the claims and sent him to jail for a year for "intent to alarm".[38] It is now thought that Bannigan had indeed been in contact with MI5 but the veracity of the remainder of his claims remains open.[39]

In August and September, Edward and Mrs. Simpson cruised the Eastern Mediterranean on the steam yacht Nahlin. By October it was becoming clear that the new King planned to marry Mrs. Simpson, especially when divorce proceedings between Mr. and Mrs. Simpson were brought at Ipswich Crown Court.[40] Preparations for all contingencies were made, including the prospect of the coronation of King Edward and Queen Wallis. Because of the religious implications of any marriage, plans were made to hold a secular coronation ceremony not in the traditional religious location, Westminster Abbey, but in the Banqueting House in Whitehall.[41]


On 16 November 1936, Edward invited Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin to Buckingham Palace and expressed his desire to marry Wallis Simpson when she became free to re-marry. Baldwin informed the King that his subjects would deem the marriage morally unacceptable, largely because remarriage after divorce was opposed by the Church of England, and the people would not tolerate Wallis as Queen.[42] As King, Edward held the role of Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and the clergy expected him to support the Church's teachings.

Edward with Mustafa Kemal in Turkey, 4 September 1936

Edward proposed an alternative solution of a morganatic marriage, in which he would remain King but Wallis would not become Queen. She would enjoy some lesser title instead, and any children they might have would not inherit the throne. This too was rejected by the British Cabinet[43] as well as other Dominion governments,[44] whose views were sought pursuant to the Statute of Westminster 1931, which provided in part that "any alteration in the law touching the Succession to the Throne or the Royal Style and Titles shall hereafter require the assent as well of the Parliaments of all the Dominions as of the Parliament of the United Kingdom."[45] The Prime Ministers of Australia, Canada and South Africa made clear their opposition to the King marrying a divorcee;[46] the Irish prime minister expressed indifference and detachment, while the Prime Minister of New Zealand, having never even heard of Mrs. Simpson before, vacillated in disbelief.[47] Faced with this opposition, Edward at first responded that there were "not many people in Australia" and their opinion did not matter.[48]

The King informed Baldwin that he would abdicate if he could not marry Mrs. Simpson. Baldwin then presented Edward with three choices: give up the idea of marriage; marry against his ministers' wishes; or abdicate.[49] It was clear that Edward was not prepared to give up Mrs. Simpson, and he knew that if he married against the advice of his ministers, he would cause the government to resign, prompting a constitutional crisis.[50] He chose to abdicate.[51]

Edward duly signed the instruments[N 2] of abdication at Fort Belvedere on 10 December 1936 in the presence of his three surviving brothers, The Duke of York, The Duke of Gloucester and The Duke of Kent (the youngest brother, Prince John, had died in 1919).[52] The next day, the last act of his reign was the royal assent to His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936. As required by the Statute of Westminster, all the Dominions consented to the King's abdication,[53] though the Irish Free State did not pass the External Relations Act, which included the abdication in its schedule, until 12 December.

On the night of 11 December 1936, Edward, now reverted to the style of prince, made a broadcast to the nation and the Empire, explaining his decision to abdicate. He famously said, "I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love."[54]

After the broadcast, Edward departed the United Kingdom for Austria, though he was unable to join Mrs. Simpson until her divorce became absolute, several months later.[55] His brother, Prince Albert, Duke of York, succeeded to the throne as George VI. George's elder daughter, Princess Elizabeth, became first in the line of succession, as heiress presumptive.

Duke of Windsor

On 12 December 1936, at the Accession meeting of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, George VI announced he was to make his brother "His Royal Highness The Duke of Windsor".[56] He wanted this to be the first act of his reign, although the formal documents were not signed until 8 March of the following year. During the interim, Edward was universally known as the Duke of Windsor. The King's decision to create Edward a royal duke ensured that he could neither stand for election to the House of Commons nor speak on political subjects in the House of Lords.[57]

However, letters patent dated 27 May 1937, which re-conferred upon the Duke of Windsor the "title, style, or attribute of Royal Highness", specifically stated that "his wife and descendants, if any, shall not hold said title or attribute". Some British ministers advised that Edward had no need of it being conferred because he had not lost it, and further that Mrs. Simpson would automatically obtain the rank of wife of a prince with the style Her Royal Highness; others maintained that he had lost all royal rank and should no longer carry any royal title or style as an abdicated King, and be referred to simply as "Mr. Edward Windsor". On 14 April 1937, Attorney General Sir Donald Somervell submitted to Home Secretary Sir John Simon a memorandum summarising the views of Lord Advocate T. M. Cooper, Parliamentary Counsel Sir Granville Ram, and himself:

  1. We incline to the view that on his abdication the Duke of Windsor could not have claimed the right to be described as a Royal Highness. In other words, no reasonable objection could have been taken if the King had decided that his exclusion from the lineal succession excluded him from the right to this title as conferred by the existing Letters Patent.
  2. The question however has to be considered on the basis of the fact that, for reasons which are readily understandable, he with the express approval of His Majesty enjoys this title and has been referred to as a Royal Highness on a formal occasion and in formal documents. In the light of precedent it seems clear that the wife of a Royal Highness enjoys the same title unless some appropriate express step can be and is taken to deprive her of it.
  3. We came to the conclusion that the wife could not claim this right on any legal basis. The right to use this style or title, in our view, is within the prerogative of His Majesty and he has the power to regulate it by Letters Patent generally or in particular circumstances.[58]
Château de Candé, the Windsors' wedding venue

The Duke of Windsor married Mrs. Simpson, who had changed her name by deed poll to Wallis Warfield, in a private ceremony on 3 June 1937, at Château de Candé, near Tours, France. When the Church of England refused to sanction the union, a County Durham clergyman, the Reverend Robert Anderson Jardine (Vicar of St Paul's, Darlington), offered to perform the ceremony, and the Duke accepted. The new king, George VI, forbade members of the Royal Family to attend[59] – Edward had particularly wanted his brothers the Dukes of Gloucester and Kent and his second cousin Louis Mountbatten to be there – and this continued for many years to rankle with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.[60]

The denial of the style Her Royal Highness to the Duchess of Windsor caused conflict, as did the financial settlement – the Government declined to include the Duke or the Duchess on the Civil List, and the Duke's allowance was paid personally by the King. But the Duke had compromised his position with the King by concealing the extent of his financial worth when they informally agreed on the amount the King would pay. Edward's wealth had accumulated from the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall paid to him as Prince of Wales and ordinarily at the disposal of an incoming king. The new King and Queen also paid Edward for Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle. These properties were Edward's personal property, inherited from his father, King George V, and thus did not automatically pass to George VI on his accession.[61] Relations between the Duke of Windsor and the rest of the Royal Family were strained for decades. Edward became embittered against his mother, writing to her in 1939: "[your last letter][N 3] destroy[ed] the last vestige of feeling I had left for you … [and has] made further normal correspondence between us impossible."[62] In the early days of George VI's reign the Duke telephoned daily, importuning for money and urging that the Duchess be granted the style of Royal Highness, until the harassed King ordered that the calls not be put through.[63]

The Duke had assumed that he would settle in Britain after a year or two of exile in France. However, King George VI (with the support of their mother Queen Mary and his wife Queen Elizabeth) threatened to cut off Edward's allowance if he returned to Britain without an invitation.[61]

World War II

The Duke and Duchess with Adolf Hitler, 1937
Edward reviewing a squad of SS with Robert Ley, 1937

In October 1937, the Duke and Duchess visited Germany, against the advice of the British government, and met Adolf Hitler at his Obersalzberg retreat. The visit was much publicised by the German media. During the visit the Duke gave full Nazi salutes.[64] The former Austrian ambassador, Count Albert von Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein, who was also a second cousin once removed and friend of George V, believed that Edward favoured German fascism as a bulwark against communism, and even that he initially favoured an alliance with Germany.[65] Edward's experience of "the unending scenes of horror"[66] during World War I led him to support appeasement. Hitler considered Edward to be friendly towards Nazi Germany and thought that Anglo-German relations could have been improved through Edward if it were not for the abdication. Fellow Nazi Albert Speer quoted Hitler directly: "I am certain through him permanent friendly relations could have been achieved. If he had stayed, everything would have been different. His abdication was a severe loss for us."[67]

The Duke and Duchess settled in France. On the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, they were brought back to Britain by Lord Mountbatten on board HMS Kelly, and the Duke, although an honorary field marshal, was made a major-general attached to the British Military Mission in France.[33] In February 1940, the German Minister in The Hague, Count Julius von Zech-Burkersroda, claimed that the Duke had leaked the Allied war plans for the defence of Belgium.[68] When Germany invaded the north of France in May 1940, the Windsors fled south, first to Biarritz, then in June to Spain. In July the pair moved to Lisbon, Portugal, where they lived at first in the home of Ricardo de Espírito Santo, a Portuguese banker with both British and German contacts.[69] The Germans unsuccessfully attempted to persuade the Duke, via agents in Spain and Portugal, to support the German effort while residing in a neutral or German-pacified territory.[70]

During the occupation of France, the Duke asked the German forces to place guards at his Paris and Riviera homes: they did so.[71] A "defeatist" interview with the Duke that was widely distributed may have served as the last straw for the British government: Prime Minister Winston Churchill threatened the Duke with a court-martial if he did not return to British soil.[72] In August, a British warship dispatched the pair to the Bahamas, where, in the view of Churchill, the Duke could do the least damage to the British war effort.

The Duke of Windsor was installed as Governor of the Bahamas. He did not enjoy the position, and referred to the islands as "a third-class British colony".[73] The British Foreign Office strenuously objected when the pair planned to tour aboard a yacht belonging to a Swedish magnate, Axel Wenner-Gren, whom American intelligence wrongly believed to be a close friend of Luftwaffe commander Hermann Göring.[74] However, the Duke was praised for his efforts to combat poverty on the islands, although he was as contemptuous of the Bahamians as he was of most non-white peoples of the Empire. He said of Étienne Dupuch, the editor of the Nassau Daily Tribune: "It must be remembered that Dupuch is more than half Negro, and due to the peculiar mentality of this Race, they seem unable to rise to prominence without losing their equilibrium."[20] He was praised, even by Dupuch, for his resolution of civil unrest over low wages in Nassau in 1942, even though he blamed the trouble on "mischief makers – communists" and "men of Central European Jewish descent".[75] He resigned the post on 16 March 1945.[33]

The Duke in 1945

Many historians have suggested that Hitler was prepared to reinstate Edward as King in the hope of establishing a fascist Britain.[76] It is widely believed that the Duke and Duchess sympathised with fascism before and during World War II, and were moved to the Bahamas to minimise their opportunities to act on those feelings. In 1940 he said: "In the past 10 years Germany has totally reorganised the order of its society ... Countries which were unwilling to accept such a reorganisation of society and its concomitant sacrifices should direct their policies accordingly."[77] Lord Caldecote wrote to Winston Churchill just before the couple were sent to the Bahamas, "[the Duke] is well-known to be pro-Nazi and he may become a centre of intrigue."[78] The latter, but not the former, part of this assessment is corroborated by German operations designed to use the Duke. The Allies became sufficiently disturbed by the German plots that U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered covert surveillance of the Duke and Duchess when they visited Palm Beach, Florida, in April 1941. Duke Carl Alexander of Württemberg (then a monk in an American monastery) had convinced the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the Duchess had been sleeping with the German ambassador in London, Joachim von Ribbentrop, had remained in constant contact with him, and had continued to leak secrets.[79]

Some authors have claimed that Anthony Blunt, an MI5 agent, acting on orders from the British Royal Family, made a successful secret trip to Schloss Friedrichshof in Germany towards the end of the war in order to retrieve sensitive letters between the Duke of Windsor and Adolf Hitler and other leading Nazis.[80] What is certain is that George VI sent the Royal Librarian, Owen Morshead, accompanied by Blunt, then working part-time in the Royal Library as well as for British intelligence, to Friedrichshof in March 1945 to secure papers relating to the German Empress Victoria, the eldest child of Queen Victoria. Looters had stolen part of the castle's archive, including surviving letters between daughter and mother, as well as other valuables, some of which were only later recovered in Chicago after the war. The papers rescued by Morshead and Blunt, and those returned by the American authorities from Chicago, were deposited in the Royal Archives.[81]

After the war, the Duke admitted in his memoirs that he admired the Germans, but he denied being pro-Nazi. Of Hitler he wrote: "[the] Führer struck me as a somewhat ridiculous figure, with his theatrical posturings and his bombastic pretensions."[82] However, during the 1960s he said privately to a friend, Patrick Balfour, 3rd Baron Kinross, "I never thought Hitler was such a bad chap."[83] In the 1950s, journalist Frank Giles heard the Duke blame British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden for helping to "precipitate the war through his treatment of Mussolini ... that's what he did, he helped to bring on the war ... and of course Roosevelt and the Jews".[84]

Later life

The couple returned to France and spent the remainder of their lives essentially in retirement as the Duke never occupied another official role after his wartime governorship of the Bahamas. The Duke's allowance was supplemented by government favours and illegal currency trading.[33][85][86] The City of Paris provided the Duke with a house at 4 rue du Champ d'Entraînement, on the Neuilly-sur-Seine side of the Bois de Boulogne, for a nominal rent.[87] The French government exempted him from paying income tax,[85][88] and the couple were able to buy goods duty-free through the British embassy and the military commissary.[88] In 1951, the Duke produced a ghost-written memoir, A King's Story, in which he expresses disagreement with liberal politics.[12] The royalties from the book added to their income.[85] Nine years later, he penned a relatively unknown book, A Family Album, chiefly about the fashion and habits of the Royal Family throughout his life, from the time of Queen Victoria through his grandfather and father, and his own tastes.

U.S. President Richard Nixon and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in 1970

The Duke and Duchess effectively took on the role of minor celebrities and were regarded as part of café society in the 1950s and 1960s. They hosted parties and shuttled between Paris and New York; Gore Vidal, who met the Windsors socially, reported on the vacuity of the Duke's conversation.[89] The couple doted on the pug dogs they kept.[90]

In June 1953, instead of attending the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in London, the Duke and Duchess watched the ceremony on television in Paris. The Duke said that it was contrary to precedent for a Sovereign or former Sovereign to attend any coronation of another. The Duke was paid to write articles on the ceremony for the Sunday Express and Women's Home Companion, as well as a short book, The Crown and the People, 1902–1953.[91]

In 1955, they visited President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the White House. The couple appeared on Edward R. Murrow's television interview show Person to Person in 1956,[92] and a 50-minute BBC television interview in 1970. That year, they were invited as guests of honour to a dinner at the White House by President Richard Nixon.[93]

The Royal Family never fully accepted the Duchess. Queen Mary refused to receive her formally. However, the Duke sometimes met his mother and brother, King George VI, and attended George's funeral. Queen Mary maintained her anger with Edward and her indignation over his marriage to Wallis: "To give up all this for that", she said.[94] In 1965, the Duke and Duchess returned to London. They were visited by the Queen, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, and Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood. A week later, the Princess Royal died, and they attended her memorial service. In 1967, they joined the Royal Family for the centenary of Queen Mary's birth. The last royal ceremony the Duke attended was the funeral of Princess Marina in 1968.[95] He declined an invitation from the Queen to attend the Investiture of the Prince of Wales in 1969, replying that Prince Charles would not want his "aged great-uncle" there.[96]

In the 1960s, the Duke's health deteriorated. In December 1964, he was operated on by Michael DeBakey in Houston for an aneurysm of the abdominal aorta, and in February 1965 a detached retina in his left eye was treated by Sir Stewart Duke-Elder. In late 1971, the Duke, who was a smoker from an early age, was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent cobalt therapy. Queen Elizabeth II visited the Windsors in 1972 while on a state visit to France; however, only the Duchess appeared with the royal party for a photocall.

On 28 May 1972, the Duke died at his home in Paris, less than a month before his 78th birthday. His body was returned to Britain, lying in state at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. The funeral service was held in the chapel on 5 June in the presence of the Queen, the Royal Family, and the Duchess of Windsor, and the coffin was buried in the Royal Burial Ground behind the Royal Mausoleum of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Frogmore. The Duchess stayed at Buckingham Palace during her visit.[97] Until a 1965 agreement with Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke and Duchess had previously planned for a burial in a purchased cemetery plot at Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, where the father of the Duchess was interred.[98]

Frail, and suffering increasingly from senile dementia, the Duchess died 14 years later, and was buried alongside her husband simply as "Wallis, Duchess of Windsor".[99]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

Royal styles of
King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom
Arms of the United Kingdom.svg
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Sir
Royal styles of
The Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor
Arms of Edward, Duke of Windsor.svg
Reference style His Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Sir
  • 23 June 1894 – 28 May 1898: His Highness Prince Edward of York
  • 28 May 1898 – 22 January 1901: His Royal Highness Prince Edward of York
  • 22 January 1901 – 9 November 1901: His Royal Highness Prince Edward of Cornwall and York
  • 9 November 1901 – 6 May 1910: His Royal Highness Prince Edward of Wales
  • 6 May 1910 – 23 June 1910: His Royal Highness The Duke of Cornwall
  • 23 June 1910 – 20 January 1936: His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
    • in Scotland: 1910–1936: His Royal Highness The Prince Edward, Duke of Rothesay
  • 20 January 1936 – 11 December 1936: His Majesty The King
    • and, occasionally, outside the United Kingdom, and with regard to India: His Imperial Majesty The King-Emperor
  • 11 December 1936 – 8 March 1937: His Royal Highness The Prince Edward
  • 8 March 1937 – 28 May 1972: His Royal Highness The Duke of Windsor
    • Edward began use of the title immediately upon abdication, in accordance with George VI's declaration to his Accession Council that his first act as King would be to grant to his brother the said title. However, several months passed before the concession was formalised by Letters Patent.

His full style as king was "His Majesty, Edward the Eighth, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland, and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India".


British honours

Edward lost almost all of his British honours upon accession, because he became sovereign of most of them. When he was no longer sovereign, his brother reinstated his pre-accession honours.

Foreign honours


Honorary degrees

  • Hon LLD: Edinburgh, Toronto, Alberta and Queen's University Kingston (Ontario) 1919, Melbourne 1920, Cambridge and Calcutta 1921, St Andrews and Hong Kong 1922, Witwatersrand 1925
  • Hon DCL: Oxford 1921
  • DSc and Hon MCom: London 1921
  • DLitt: Benares 1921


As Prince of Wales, Edward's arms were the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, differenced with a label of three points argent, with an inescutcheon representing Wales surmounted by a coronet (identical to those of Charles, the current Prince of Wales). As Sovereign, he bore the royal arms undifferenced. After his abdication, he used the arms again differenced by a label of three points argent, but this time with the centre point bearing an imperial crown.[106]

See adjacent text
Coat of arms of Edward, Prince of Wales, from 1911–1936 
See adjacent text
Coat of arms of Edward VIII of the United Kingdom 
See adjacent text
Coat of arms of Edward VIII of the United Kingdom (in Scotland) 
See adjacent text
Coat of arms of Edward, Duke of Windsor 


See also

House of Windsor
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (1837-1952).svg
George V
Edward VIII
George VI
Mary, Princess Royal
Henry, Duke of Gloucester
George, Duke of Kent
Prince John
Edward VIII


  1. ^ His twelve godparents were: Queen Victoria (his paternal great-grandmother); the King and Queen of Denmark (his paternal great-grandparents, for whom his maternal uncle Prince Adolphus of Teck and his maternal aunt the Duchess of Fife stood proxy); the King of Württemberg (his cousin, for whom his granduncle the Duke of Connaught stood proxy); the Queen of Greece (his grandaunt, for whom his paternal aunt Princess Victoria of Wales stood proxy); the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (his granduncle, for whom Prince Edward's cousin Prince Louis of Battenberg stood proxy); the Prince and Princess of Wales (his paternal grandparents); the Tsarevich (his cousin); the Duke of Cambridge (his maternal granduncle and the Queen's cousin); and the Duke and Duchess of Teck (his maternal grandparents).
  2. ^ There were fifteen separate copies – one for each Dominion, the Irish Free State, India, the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Prime Minister, amongst others.
  3. ^ She had asked Alec Hardinge to write to the Duke explaining that he could not be invited to his father's memorial.


  1. ^ Windsor, p. 1
  2. ^ Yvonne's Royalty Home Page – Royal Christenings
  3. ^ Windsor, p. 7
  4. ^ Windsor, pp. 25–28
  5. ^ Ziegler, pp. 30–31
  6. ^ Windsor, pp. 38–39
  7. ^ Ziegler, p. 79
  8. ^ Parker, pp. 12–13
  9. ^ Parker, pp. 13–14
  10. ^ Parker, pp. 14–16
  11. ^ Weir, Alison (1996), Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy Revised edition, London: Pimlico, p. 327, ISBN 0-7126-7448-9 
  12. ^ a b Windsor, p. 78
  13. ^ Windsor, pp. 106–107 and Ziegler, pp. 48–50
  14. ^ Roberts, p. 41 and Windsor, p. 109
  15. ^ Ziegler, p. 111 and Windsor, p. 140
  16. ^ Edward VIII (Jan–Dec 1936), Official website of the British monarchy, http://www.royal.gov.uk/HistoryoftheMonarchy/KingsandQueensoftheUnitedKingdom/TheHouseofWindsor/EdwardVIII.aspx, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  17. ^ Windsor, p. 215
  18. ^ Voisey, Paul (2004), High River and the Times: an Alberta community and its weekly newspaper, 1905–1966, Edmonton, Alberta: University of Alberta, p. 129, ISBN 0-88864-411-6 
  19. ^ Prince of Wales Trophy, National Hockey League, http://www.nhl.com/trophies/wales.html, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  20. ^ a b Ziegler, p. 448
  21. ^ Godfrey, Rupert (editor) (1998), "11 July 1920", Letters From a Prince: Edward to Mrs. Freda Dudley Ward 1918–1921, Little, Brown & Co, ISBN 0-7515-2590-1 
  22. ^ Broad, Lewis (1961), The Abdication: Twenty-five Years After. A Re-appraisal, London: Frederick Muller Ltd, pp. 4–5 
  23. ^ Lascelles, Sir Alan 'Tommy' (20 November 2006), "Prince Charmless: A damning portrait of Edward VIII", Daily Mail, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-417388/Prince-Charmless-A-damning-portrait-Edward-VIII.html, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  24. ^ Middlemas, Keith; Barnes, John (1969), Baldwin: A Biography, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, p. 976, ISBN 0-297-17859-8 
  25. ^ "Foreign News: P'incess Is Three", Time, 29 April 1929, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,769224,00.html, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  26. ^ Airlie, Mabell (1962), Thatched with Gold, London: Hutchinson, p. 197 
  27. ^ Windsor, p. 235
  28. ^ Ziegler, p. 233
  29. ^ Windsor, p. 255
  30. ^ Bradford, p. 142
  31. ^ Boycott, Owen; Bates, Stephen (30 January 2003), "Car dealer was Wallis Simpson's secret lover", The Guardian (London), http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,885144,00.html, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  32. ^ Windsor, p. 265
  33. ^ a b c d e Matthew, H. C. G. (September 2004; online edition January 2008) "Edward VIII, later Prince Edward, duke of Windsor (1894–1972)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31061, retrieved 1 May 2010 (Subscription required)
  34. ^ Ziegler, pp. 273–274
  35. ^ Windsor, pp. 293–294
  36. ^ A. Michie, God Save The Queen
  37. ^ Coinage and bank notes, Official website of the British monarchy, http://www.royal.gov.uk/MonarchUK/Symbols/Coinageandbanknotes.aspx, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  38. ^ "George Andrew McMahon: attempt on the life of H.M. King Edward VIII at Constitution Hill on 16 July 1936", MEPO 3/1713 (The National Archives, Kew), 2003, http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/releases/2003/january2/attempt.htm, retrieved 5 March 2011 
  39. ^ Cook, Andrew (3 January 2003), "The plot thickens", The Guardian (London), http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,867861,00.html, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  40. ^ Broad, pp. 56–57
  41. ^ Antiques Roadshow, BBC One, 14 October 2007. Banqueting House staff discovered plans for the coronation, including a hand-drawn scheme for the decoration of the hall.
  42. ^ Windsor, pp. 330–331
  43. ^ Windsor, p. 346
  44. ^ Windsor, p. 354
  45. ^ Statute of Westminster 1931 c.4, The UK Statute Law Database, http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/content.aspx?activeTextDocId=1081723, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  46. ^ Ziegler, pp. 305–307
  47. ^ Bradford, p. 187
  48. ^ Bradford, p. 188
  49. ^ Windsor, pp. 354–355
  50. ^ Beaverbrook, Lord; Edited by A. J. P. Taylor (1966), The Abdication of King Edward VIII, London: Hamish Hamilton, p. 57 
  51. ^ Windsor, p. 387
  52. ^ Windsor, p. 407
  53. ^ Heard, Andrew (1990), Canadian Independence, Simon Fraser University, Canada, http://www.sfu.ca/~aheard/324/Independence.html, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  54. ^ Edward VIII (PDF), Broadcast after his abdication, 11 December 1936, Official website of the British monarchy, http://www.royal.gov.uk/pdf/edwardviii.pdf, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  55. ^ Ziegler, p. 336
  56. ^ London Gazette: no. 34349. p. 8111. 12 December 1936.
  57. ^ Clive Wigram's conversation with Sir Claud Schuster, Clerk to the Crown and Permanent Secretary to the Lord Chancellor quoted in Bradford, p. 201
  58. ^ Attorney General to Home Secretary (14 April 1937) National Archives file HO 144/22945 quoted in Velde, François (6 February 2006) The drafting of the letters patent of 1937. Heraldica, retrieved on 7 April 2009
  59. ^ Williams, Susan (2003), "The historical significance of the Abdication files", Public Records Office – New Document Releases – Abdication Papers, London (Public Records Office of the United Kingdom), http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/releases/2003/january30/significance.htm, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  60. ^ Ziegler, pp. 354–355
  61. ^ a b Ziegler, pp. 376–378
  62. ^ Ziegler, p. 384
  63. ^ Ziegler, p. 349
  64. ^ Donaldson, pp. 331–332
  65. ^ Papers of Count Albert von Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein (1861–1945) in the State Archives, Vienna, quoted in Rose, Kenneth (1983), King George V, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, p. 391, ISBN 0-297-78245-2 
  66. ^ Windsor, p. 122
  67. ^ Speer, Albert (1970), Inside the Third Reich, New York: Macmillan, p. 118 
  68. ^ Bradford, p. 434
  69. ^ Bloch, p. 91
  70. ^ Niderost, Eric, "King Turned Pawn", WWII History, July 2011, pp. 28–31.
  71. ^ Roberts, p. 52
  72. ^ Bloch, p. 93
  73. ^ Bloch, p. 364
  74. ^ Bloch, pp. 154–159, 230–233
  75. ^ Ziegler, pp. 471–472
  76. ^ Ziegler, p. 392
  77. ^ Bloch, pp. 79–80
  78. ^ Ziegler, p. 434
  79. ^ Evans, Rob; Hencke, David (29 June 2002), "Wallis Simpson, the Nazi minister, the telltale monk and an FBI plot", The Guardian (London), http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4451107,00.html, retrieved 2 May 2010 
  80. ^ Higham, Charles (1988), The Duchess of Windsor: The Secret Life, New York: McGraw-Hill Publishers, pp. 388–389; and Wright, Peter (1987), Spycatcher: The Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer, Toronto: Stoddart Publishers
  81. ^ Bradford, p. 426
  82. ^ Windsor, p. 277
  83. ^ Lord Kinross, Love conquers all in Books and Bookmen, vol. 20 (1974), p. 50
  84. ^ Sebba, Anne (1 November 2011), "Wallis Simpson, 'That Woman' After the Abdication", New York Times, http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/wallis-simpson-that-woman-after-the-abdication/, retrieved 7 November 2011 
  85. ^ a b c Roberts, p. 53
  86. ^ Bradford, p. 442
  87. ^ Ziegler, pp. 534–535
  88. ^ a b Bradford, p. 446
  89. ^ Vidal, Gore (1995), Palimpsest: a memoir, New York: Random House, p. 206, ISBN 0-679-44038-0 
  90. ^ Farquhar, Michael (2001), A Treasure of Royal Scandals, New York: Penguin Books, p. 48, ISBN 0-7394-2025-9
  91. ^ Ziegler, pp. 539–540
  92. ^ "Peep Show", Time, 8 October 1956, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,824447,00.html, retrieved 2 May 2010 
  93. ^ UPI. "Duke, Duchess Have Dinner With Nixons" The Times-News (Hendersonville, North Carolina) 6 April 1970; p. 13
  94. ^ Bradford, p. 198
  95. ^ Ziegler, pp. 554–556
  96. ^ Ziegler, p. 555
  97. ^ Ziegler, pp. 556–557
  98. ^ Rasmussen, Frederick (29 April 1986), Windsors had a plot at Green Mount, Baltimore: The Baltimore Sun 
  99. ^ Simple funeral rites for Duchess, BBC, 29 April 1986, http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/april/29/newsid_2500000/2500427.stm, retrieved 2 May 2010 
  100. ^ Privy Council Office (3 November 2008), Historical Alphabetical List since 1867 of Members of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, http://www.pco-bcp.gc.ca/index.asp?lang=eng&page=information&sub=council-conseil&doc=members-membres/hist/P-T-eng.htm#P, retrieved 2 May 2010 
  101. ^ a b c d e f g h i Cokayne, G.E.; Doubleday, H.A.; Howard de Walden, Lord (1940), The Complete Peerage, London: St. Catherine's Press, vol. XIII, pp. 116–117
  102. ^ London Gazette: no. 32774. p. 8615. 5 December 1922.
  103. ^ London Gazette: no. 33640. p. 5428. 2 September 1930.
  104. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34119. p. 15. 28 December 1934.
  105. ^ The Times, 19 September 1939, p. 6, col. F
  106. ^ Prothero, David (24 September 2002), Flags of the Royal Family, United Kingdom, http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/gb-rooth.html, retrieved 2 May 2010 


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Edward VIII. — Edward „David“, Herzog von Windsor im Jahre 1945 Edward VIII. Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, genannt David (* 23. Juni 1894 in White Lodge; † 28. Mai 1972 in Paris) war von 1910 bis 1936 Prince of Wales, von Januar bis zu seiner… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Edward VIII — Edward VIII, King (1894 1972) the British king in 1936. He was forced to ↑abdicate (=give up being king) because he wanted to marry Wallis Simpson, an American woman who had been married before. This event is known as the Abdication . After he… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Edward VIII — (Duke of Windsor) 1894 1972, king of Great Britain 1936: abdicated (son of George V; brother of George VI). * * * born June 23, 1894, Richmond, Surrey, Eng. died May 28, 1972, Paris, France King of the United Kingdom (1936) who abdicated… …   Universalium

  • Edward VIII — noun King of England and Ireland in 1936; his marriage to Wallis Warfield Simpson created a constitutional crisis leading to his abdication (1894 1972) • Syn: ↑Edward, ↑Duke of Windsor • Instance Hypernyms: ↑King of England, ↑King of Great… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Edward VIII — Edward the Eighth, king of England from Jan. 20, 1936, to Dec. 11 of the same year, when he abdicated, giving up the throne, as he said, because, as king, he could not marry the woman I love, the divorced Mrs. Wallis Warfield of Baltimore,… …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • Edward VIII — /ˈɛdwəd/ (say edwuhd) noun (Duke of Windsor), 1894–1972, king of Great Britain in 1936 (son of George V and brother of George VI); the only British monarch to abdicate …   Australian English dictionary

  • Edward VIII Bay — (coord|66|50|S|57|0|E|) is a bay about 20 miles (32 km) in extent, entered between Edward VIII Plateau and the Oygarden Group. It was discovered in 1936 by DI personnel on the William Scoresby, and named for King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom …   Wikipedia

  • Edward VIII abdication crisis — The Edward VIII abdication crisis occurred in the British Empire in 1936, when the desire of King Emperor Edward VIII to marry his mistress, Wallis Simpson, a twice divorced American socialite, caused a constitutional crisis.The marriage was… …   Wikipedia

  • Edward VIII of the United Kingdom — ] In June 1953, instead of attending the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in London, the Duke and Duchess watched the ceremony on television in Paris. The Duke was paid $100,000 to write an extensive, 10,000 word article on the coronation for an… …   Wikipedia

  • Edward VIII du Royaume-Uni — Édouard VIII du Royaume Uni Édouard VIII Roi du Royaume Uni …   Wikipédia en Français