KING EDWARD VIII ANNOUNCES INTENT TO ABDICATE THRONE
London, England (JFK+50) Eighty years ago today, December 11, 1936, Great Britain's King Edward VIII* made a radio address informing the British people of his decision to abdicate the throne.
On November 16, 1936, the King had informed Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin of his decision to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.** When King Edward learned that this would be unacceptable because remarriage after divorce is opposed by the Church of England, he let it be known that he intended to abdicate.
In the radio speech, the King said...
"A few hours ago, I discharged my last duty as King...and now that I have been succeeded by...the Duke of York, my first words must be to declare my allegiance to him.
I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burdens of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King...without the help and support of the woman I love."
After abdication, Edward became the Duke of Windsor and married Mrs. Simpson. The couple lived in Paris until the Nazis occupied the city in 1940. The Duke served as Governor of the Bahamas from 1940 to 1945.
Dr. Anna Whitlock, writing in the Mirror, describes Edward's abdication as "a decision which would change the monarchy forever." She speculates as to what might have happened had Edward given up Mrs. Simpson to remain on the throne.
As to Britain's relationship with Nazi Germany, Dr. Whitlock writes that by 1940 Edward "was regarded by Winston Churchill as pro-Nazi," and Adolf Hitler himself believed that the King's abdication was "a severe loss for us." She further surmises that had Edward been King after the fall of France, he would have urged Britain's surrender as well.
Dr. Whitlock also believes that "it is unlikely" Elizabeth would have ever been Queen had King Edward not abdicated because had he fathered children and lived to his death date in 1972, there would be no Queen Elizabeth II.
*King Edward VIII (1894-1972) was born at White Lodge, Richmond Park near London during the reign of his grandmother, Queen Victoria. He was educated at the Royal Naval College & served as a midshipman for 3 months. Edward was invested as the Prince of Wales in 1911. Edward took the throne upon the death of King George V on Jan 20, 1936.
**Wallis Simpson (1896-1986) was born in Pennsylvania. She divorced her 1st husband, Earl Spencer, Jr. in 1927 & married Ernest Simpson, a British-American businessman.
"Edward VIII, January-December 1936," The official site of the British Monarchy, www.royal.gov.uk/
"Eighty years after King Edward's abdication what would have happened to Britain if he hadn't given up his crown," by Dr. Anna Whitlock, December 11, 2016, Mirror, www.mirror.co.uk/
"Historic Royal Speeches and Writings," 11 December 1936, www.royal.gov.uk/