Edward VIII, The King Who Lost His Crown

Queen Elizabeth II has been reigning for almost seven decades, and before her, King George VI reigned for 16 years, however, his predecessor, King Edward VIII was only on the throne for 12 months. It might seem odd, especially because the latter lived to see his niece take the crown, so what happened? In this article, we will be explaining the life of King Edward VIII and the scandals that led him to lose his crown. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bettmann | The Duke and Duchess of Windsor seated outdoors with two small dogs.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bettmann | The Duke and Duchess of Windsor seated outdoors with two small dogs.


THE KING THAT GAVE HIS POWER AWAY FOR LOVE

King Edward VIII was one of the most controversial people to ever step foot in Buckingham Palace and, even though he was born into royal privilege, he chose to give his rights away so he could be with the woman he loved. However, many scandalous incidents happened before that.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Frank Scherschel / The LIFE Picture Collection | The Duchess and Duke of Windsor pick flowers on the grounds of their home outside of Paris, France, 1955.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Frank Scherschel / The LIFE Picture Collection | The Duchess and Duke of Windsor pick flowers on the grounds of their home outside of Paris, France, 1955.


A ROYAL CHILDHOOD THAT WENT DARK

Born Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David on June 23, 1894, he was the son of King George V (the grandfather of the current Queen), and while everyone expected him to have a wonderful childhood as a member of the Royal Family, that didn’t quite happen.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Patrick Lichfield / Condé Nast | Close-up of the Duke of Windsor (aka King Edward VIII).

Image Credits: Getty Images / Patrick Lichfield / Condé Nast | Close-up of the Duke of Windsor (aka King Edward VIII).

As any royal child, Edward was brought up by nannies, and one of them was not very professional. She was terribly possessive of baby Edward and would often pinch him hard enough to make him cry so his parents would hand him right back to her. This situation went on until Edward finally spoke up and the nanny was fired.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Speaight / Mansell / The LIFE Picture Collection | The future King Edward VIII (left) and his brother, the future King George VI (centre) with a baby (right), possibly their sister Princess Mary.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Speaight / Mansell / The LIFE Picture Collection | The future King Edward VIII (left) and his brother, the future King George VI (centre) with a baby (right), possibly their sister Princess Mary.


BECOMING THE PRINCE OF WALES

At the young age of 16, Edward was given the title of Prince of Wales, just one month after his father was crowned King. Not only that, but Edward was also given the royal designation of “Earl of Chester”. Nevertheless, all the titles in the world couldn’t have prepared him for the responsibilities he would have to take on.

Image Credits: Getty Images - Erika Stone | The Duke of Windsor (1894 - 1972), formerly King Edward VIII, with his memoirs, entitled 'A King's Story: The Memoirs of the Duke of Windsor', circa 1951.

Image Credits: Getty Images - Erika Stone | The Duke of Windsor (1894 - 1972), formerly King Edward VIII, with his memoirs, entitled 'A King's Story: The Memoirs of the Duke of Windsor', circa 1951.


THE LACK OF PREPAREDNESS OF THE PRINCE

For some reason, Edward was not expecting to become Prince this young and was in fact thinking about joining the navy. However, as the royal responsibilities changed quickly, his family opted to enroll him at the University of Oxford, which might have been a mistake!

Image Credits: Getty Images / Popperfoto | Duke of Windsor at a villa at Biarritz, France.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Popperfoto | Duke of Windsor at a villa at Biarritz, France.


LIVING HIS BEST LIFE IN COLLEGE

The young Prince took his university experience as an opportunity to become a party boy. He would often ditch studying to play polo with his friends, and this all led him to eventually drop out of school, thus having no academic certificates.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bob Thomas / Popperfoto | HRH The Prince of Wales in Bath, England on 18th July 1923.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bob Thomas / Popperfoto | HRH The Prince of Wales in Bath, England on 18th July 1923.


JOINING THE WAR IN 1914

When the war broke out in 1914, Prince Edward was very keen on joining the front lines and helping his country win the battle. Even though the British Parliament tried its best to keep the Prince safe, he would often go to the front lines to witness what was going on with the soldiers.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Fox Photos | Prince Edward, later King Edward VIII.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Fox Photos | Prince Edward, later King Edward VIII.


ONCE A PARTY BOY, ALWAYS A PARTY BOY

As mentioned before, Edward was a fan of partying and enjoying himself, so whenever he had leave or free time he would go to Paris in order to make the best out of it. During his visits to the French city, he was introduced to a high-class courtesan called Marguerite Alibert, with whom he had an intense love affair.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Mansell / The LIFE Picture Collection | Portrait of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales (1894 - 1974) (later King Edward VIII and Duke of Windsor) dressed in a bowler hat and a houndstooth jacket, 1927.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Mansell / The LIFE Picture Collection | Portrait of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales (1894 - 1974) (later King Edward VIII and Duke of Windsor) dressed in a bowler hat and a houndstooth jacket, 1927.


MARGUERITE CAME BACK AFTER THE TWO BROKE UP

While their love affair only lasted one year, she later returned to the Prince’s life, and she was not good news! Marguerite was responsible for the passing of her then-husband in a Hotel in London, which led to the PR team of the Prince to have to work hard to ensure that his name would name be associated with her.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Popperfoto | HRH, Edward, Prince of Wales, portrait, The Prince of Wales was to become King Edward VIII for a short while in 1936.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Popperfoto | HRH, Edward, Prince of Wales, portrait, The Prince of Wales was to become King Edward VIII for a short while in 1936.


BECOMING AN INTERNATIONAL SENSATION

Around the time that Marguerite was being taken to court, Prince Edward was making the headlines but for other reasons. For instance, in a publication from Men’s Wear magazine, the Prince was mentioned due to his fashion style, “The average young man in America is more interested in the clothes of the Prince of Wales than in any other individual.”

Image Credits: Getty Images / Popperfoto | HRH, Edward, Prince of Wales, The Prince of Wales was to become King Edward VIII.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Popperfoto | HRH, Edward, Prince of Wales, The Prince of Wales was to become King Edward VIII.


HIS FAMILY DIDN’T FEEL THE SAME WAY

While Edward was being bragged about in the papers, his own family had a different impression of him, mostly due to his interest in partying and in married women. In fact, his own father once said “After I am dead, the boy will ruin himself in twelve months.” 

Image Credits: Getty Images / W. and D. Downey / Hulton Archive | Members of the British royal family at Balmoral, circa 1905. Standing, left to right: Princess Mary (1897 - 1965), Queen Alexandra (1844 - 1925), Princess Louise, Duchess Of Fife (1867 - 1931), George, Prince of Wales (later King George V, 1865 - 1936), Alexander Duff, Duke of Fife (1840 - 1912), Edward, Duke of Windsor (1894-1972) (later King Edward VIII) and Princess Victoria (1868 - 1935). Seated, left to right: the daughters of the Duke and Duchess of Fife, George, Duke of York (later King George VI (1895 - 1952), Queen Mary (1867 - 1953), Prince George, Duke of Kent (1902 - 1942) and Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester (1900 - 1974).

Image Credits: Getty Images / W. and D. Downey / Hulton Archive | Members of the British royal family at Balmoral, circa 1905. Standing, left to right: Princess Mary (1897 - 1965), Queen Alexandra (1844 - 1925), Princess Louise, Duchess Of Fife (1867 - 1931), George, Prince of Wales (later King George V, 1865 - 1936), Alexander Duff, Duke of Fife (1840 - 1912), Edward, Duke of Windsor (1894-1972) (later King Edward VIII) and Princess Victoria (1868 - 1935). Seated, left to right: the daughters of the Duke and Duchess of Fife, George, Duke of York (later King George VI (1895 - 1952), Queen Mary (1867 - 1953), Prince George, Duke of Kent (1902 - 1942) and Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester (1900 - 1974).


HIS LOVE FOR MARRIED WOMEN WOULD DESTROY HIS ROYAL LIFE

During 1930, Prince Edward was often seen in the presence of married women, one of whom was the American beauty Thelma Furness, which would end up introducing him to Wallis Simpson. Wallis would end up having a very important role to play in the history of the Royal Family.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ivan Dmitri / Michael Ochs Archives | Wallis, Duchess of Windsor (1896-1986) and the Duke of Windsor (1894-1972) outside Goverment House in Nassau, the Bahamas, circa 1942.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ivan Dmitri / Michael Ochs Archives | Wallis, Duchess of Windsor (1896-1986) and the Duke of Windsor (1894-1972) outside Goverment House in Nassau, the Bahamas, circa 1942.

At the time the two met, Wallis was already once divorced and was married to Ernest Simpson, a businessman. Due to this, her relationship with Prince Edward began as a secret, however, her personality and charisma had already taken over Edward’s reason and would eventually ruin his relationship with the rest of the Royal family.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Patrick Lichfield / Condé Nast | The Duke of Windsor (aka King Edward VIII) arms crossed, standing in a doorway of Moulin de la Tuileries, his home outside Paris.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Patrick Lichfield / Condé Nast | The Duke of Windsor (aka King Edward VIII) arms crossed, standing in a doorway of Moulin de la Tuileries, his home outside Paris.


THE BIG INTRODUCTION: WALLIS MEETS THE FAMILY

While Prince Edward tried to keep his love affair for as long as possible, there were several rumors going around the Palace, so he opted to introduce her to the family during a function at Buckingham Palace. This alone was a scandal, as at that time the Royal Family didn’t allow divorcees in the Palace.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bettmann | The Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bettmann | The Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

However, apparently, that was not the only issue that arose, as Wallis did not impress the King and Queen, and thus was banned from ever coming to the palace again. Their dislike for her was even passed to Edward, who was not allowed to come to the next function.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ivan Dmitri / Michael Ochs Archives | Wallis, Duchess of Windsor (1896-1986) and the Duke of Windsor (1894-1972) outside Goverment House in Nassau, the Bahamas, circa 1942.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ivan Dmitri / Michael Ochs Archives | Wallis, Duchess of Windsor (1896-1986) and the Duke of Windsor (1894-1972) outside Goverment House in Nassau, the Bahamas, circa 1942.


THE REAL INTENTIONS BEHIND WALLIS’ INTEREST IN THE PRINCE

While there might have been some love from her side, there was also some interest. Wallis and her ex-husband’s relationship wasn’t working out because he couldn’t afford her expensive taste, and money is definitely something that Prince Edward had. Not only that, but according to some reports, Wallis was not always faithful, which was just another red flag.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ivan Dmitri / Michael Ochs Archives | The Duke of Windsor (1894-1972) sitting at a desk, which is strewn with books and paperwork in Goverment House in Nassau, the Bahamas, circa 1942.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ivan Dmitri / Michael Ochs Archives | The Duke of Windsor (1894-1972) sitting at a desk, which is strewn with books and paperwork in Goverment House in Nassau, the Bahamas, circa 1942.


THE PASSING OF KING GEORGE V

After many people have tried to stop Edward from being involved with Wallis, the worst possible thing happened. On January 20th, 1926, King George V passed away, which meant that Prince Edward would no longer be Prince, but instead the King of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Realms. Soon later, the parliament would be proved right about their concerns.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Frank Scherschel / The LIFE Picture Collection | Photograph of Edward VIII, the Duke of Windor (1894 - 1972), as he sits on a large rock on a hillside above his home, la Moulin de la Tuilerie, outside of Paris, France, 1955.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Frank Scherschel / The LIFE Picture Collection | Photograph of Edward VIII, the Duke of Windor (1894 - 1972), as he sits on a large rock on a hillside above his home, la Moulin de la Tuilerie, outside of Paris, France, 1955.


THE ASCENSION ANNOUNCEMENT

The day after King George V’s death was marked by the first fit between now King Edward VIII and the English Parliament. The new King insisted on being accompanied by Wallis Simpson to his own ascension announcement, which was incredibly out of the norm, especially because they were not married and she was a divorcee.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Thomas D. McAvoy / The LIFE Picture Collection | Portrait of the Duchess (1896 - 1986) and Duke (1894 - 1972) of Windsor on the veranda of their home in Lisbon, Portugal, July or August 1940.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Thomas D. McAvoy / The LIFE Picture Collection | Portrait of the Duchess (1896 - 1986) and Duke (1894 - 1972) of Windsor on the veranda of their home in Lisbon, Portugal, July or August 1940.


THE GOVERNMENT DID WHAT IT COULD TO STOP THE KING 

King Edward was not prepared to be Prince years before, and he certainly was not prepared to be a King now. In fact, the parliament went to desperate measures to ensure that he would not have access to sensitive documents at his own home, as they were afraid that Wallis would take a peek at them and expose government secrets.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bettmann | The Duke and Duchess of Windsor seated under an open sky.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bettmann | The Duke and Duchess of Windsor seated under an open sky.


THE GOVERNMENT WAS NOT THE ONLY ONE AGAINST THE KING

Less than six months after King Edward was crowned, an Irish citizen named Jerome Bannigan tracked him down while he was horseback riding. While the King’s security team quickly handled the situation and the King survived, this scary attack didn’t open his eyes to what the people were feeling.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bettmann | Duke and Duchess of Windsor at 3rd Annual Springs Festival.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bettmann | Duke and Duchess of Windsor at 3rd Annual Springs Festival.


WALLIS GETS A DIVORCE

Just a couple of months after, Wallis and her then-husband signed the papers to get divorced, so she could be free to be with the King. However, since he was the Head of Church of England, it wasn’t very well looked upon for him to marry a divorcee, and even worse, to make her Queen.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Mondadori | Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson posing at the Castle of Conde on their wedding day.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Mondadori | Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson posing at the Castle of Conde on their wedding day.


THE ALLIANCE BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND THE ROYAL FAMILY TO SPLIT THEM UP

The parliament was pressuring the King in order to make him stop his relationship with Wallis, and the Royal Family was doing the same against his lover. In fact, the king’s lord-in-waiting approached her and told her to renounce the king in a public statement. Of course, this didn’t work and the King was even more determined to marry Wallis.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Gamma-Keystone | Windsors Vacation At Palm Beach. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, who are spending their winter at Palm Beach, stroll along Worth Avenue, the city's exclusive shopping center.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Gamma-Keystone | Windsors Vacation At Palm Beach. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, who are spending their winter at Palm Beach, stroll along Worth Avenue, the city's exclusive shopping center.


THE THREE OPTIONS FOR THE COUPLE

Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin offered three options to the King: he could forget about his decision to marry Wallis, he could marry her against the wishes of the parliament (which would make their relationship even worse), or he could renounce his throne and crown. While no one was expecting this, the King opted for the third option.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection | Sitting portrait of England's Duchess and Duke of Windsor.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection | Sitting portrait of England's Duchess and Duke of Windsor.


THE KING’S ABDICATION

On December 10, 1936, King Edward VIII officially signed his abdication papers, and, just like his father had predicted before his death, the King did in fact ruin himself in 12 months. Even though it might seem like a beautiful act of love, this was not the last scandal Edward was involved with. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Hulton-Deutsch Collection / CORBIS | People surround a newspaper stand in Parliament Square, London, to read the news of King Edward VIII's abdication.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Hulton-Deutsch Collection / CORBIS | People surround a newspaper stand in Parliament Square, London, to read the news of King Edward VIII's abdication.

For years and years, his relationship with the Royal Family kept deteriorating, he was involved with the wrong party during the world war, and even tried to get his role as King back once Queen Elizabeth II had already taken his place. However, it all ended when he passed away on May 28th, 1972, at the age of 77. What a life he lived after all! 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bettmann | Duke and Dutchess of Windsir with pet dog, Trooper.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bettmann | Duke and Dutchess of Windsir with pet dog, Trooper.

The Royal Family has been involved in several controversies over the years, and it didn’t stop with King Edward, in fact, now the scandals are even more public due to the accessibility to information that the internet provides. Let us know in the comments what your favorite scandal of the Royal Family is, and make sure to share this story with your friends! 

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