On 20th of January 1936, King George V died and so his eldest son Edward began his reign as King Edward VIII. During his reign the new King travelled a lot with a Mrs. Wallis Simpson with him on almost every single trip. In November King Edward VIII wanted to talk to his favourite adviser and Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and invited him to Buckingham Palace. It was in that meeting that King Edward announced that he intended to marry Mrs. Wallis Simpson. Baldwin, having already expected something like that, told Edward that the people and the members of government in particular wouldn’t accept that marriage because of the fact that Mrs. Simpson would automatically become queen of the country. According to Baldwin, the people wouldn’t be happy with that woman as their queen and their voice should be heard. Nevertheless Baldwin suggested three options for Edward:
One – A Royal Marriage: Edward and Mrs. Simpson marry each other and she becomes Queen, although everybody seemed to oppose that kind of option. It would have been likely that Edward’s ministers resigned if the option of a royal marriage had been chosen.
Two – A Morganatic Marriage: Edward and Mrs. Simpson marry each other, but Mrs. Simpson does not become Queen and receives another courtesy title instead.
Three – Abdication: Edward abdicates and is no longer King. He would then be able to marry Mrs. Simpson without having to think of the opinion of the people and the government anymore.
What had to also be kept in mind was that Edward was not just the King of England, he was also King of Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa, and the Prime Ministers of these countries had to agree to the possible marriage as well. The majority said they saw no alternative other than option 3 and Edward prepared for exactly that option and, on Wednesday 9th of December 1936, King Edward VIII informed the government of his irrevocable decision to abdicate. On the 10th he formally submitted his abdication; that was endorsed by Parliament and, as a result, Edward became the only British monarch ever to voluntarily resign. It was on the following day, Friday 11th December 1936, that Edward publicly announced his decision via radio to a worldwide audience. These are his words:
At long last I am able to say a few words of my own. I have never wanted to withhold anything, but until now it has not been constitutionally possible for me to speak.
A few hours ago I discharged my last duty as King and Emperor, and now that I have been succeeded by my brother, the Duke of York, my first words must be to declare my allegiance to him. This I do with all my heart.
You all know the reasons which have impelled me to renounce the throne. But I want you to understand that in making up my mind I did not forget the country or the empire, which, as Prince of Wales and lately as King, I have for twenty-five years tried to serve.
But you must believe me when I tell you that 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.
And I want you to know that the decision I have made has been mine and mine alone. This was a thing I had to judge entirely for myself. The other person most nearly concerned has tried up to the last to persuade me to take a different course.
I have made this, the most serious decision of my life, only upon the single thought of what would, in the end, be best for all.
This decision has been made less difficult to me by the sure knowledge that my brother, with his long training in the public affairs of this country and with his fine qualities, will be able to take my place forthwith without interruption or injury to the life and progress of the empire. And he has one matchless blessing, enjoyed by so many of you, and not bestowed on me — a happy home with his wife and children.
During these hard days I have been comforted by her majesty my mother and by my family. The ministers of the crown, and in particular, Mr. Baldwin, the Prime Minister, have always treated me with full consideration. There has never been any constitutional difference between me and them, and between me and Parliament. Bred in the constitutional tradition by my father, I should never have allowed any such issue to arise.
Ever since I was Prince of Wales, and later on when I occupied the throne, I have been treated with the greatest kindness by all classes of the people wherever I have lived or journeyed throughout the empire. For that I am very grateful.
I now quit altogether public affairs and I lay down my burden. It may be some time before I return to my native land, but I shall always follow the fortunes of the British race and empire with profound interest, and if at any time in the future I can be found of service to his majesty in a private station, I shall not fail.
And now, we all have a new King. I wish him and you, his people, happiness and prosperity with all my heart. God bless you all! God save the King!
Edward was the first and the only British Monarch so far who abdicated voluntarily. His brother was proclaimed King George VI on 12th of December 1936. Edward’s new title then was “Duke of Windsor” and he was now able to do whatever he wanted to do as a ‘normal Briton’. In May 1937 Mrs. Simpson’s decree absolute came through and she was then legally understood as a divorced woman who is free to remarry another man and one month later, on 3rd of June 1937, Edward and Wallis married in France. Wallis’ new title was ‘Duchess of Windsor’ or just Wallis Warfield, her maiden name. Edward and Wallis remained a married couple until Edward died on 28th of May 1972.