77 years ago today, Edward VIII became the first English monarch to voluntarily abdicate the throne. His radio address that evening stated simply but romantically, “I have found it impossible to carry on the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge the duties of king, as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love.”
The woman he loved was American divorcée Wallis Warfield Simpson. The events that played out in the lead up to abdication were a fascinating combination of power, politics, scandal and sex.
Post-abdiction, the couple moved to France, where they went to work inventing the jet-set lifestyle. While Edward made a few visits to England to attend the funerals of his parents, it was not until 1967 that the Duke and Duchess were invited by the royal family to attend the unveiling of a plaque dedicated to Queen Mary.
Edward died in Paris in 1972 and is buried at Frogmore, on the grounds of Windsor Castle. Wallis died in 1986 and is buried at his side. Their story is endlessly fascinating.
To hear the Duke & Duchess discuss their lives, click here. Film lovers can watch W.E. – it didn’t get the best reviews but it sure looks good. Book lovers should consider Philip Ziegeler’s excellent King Edward VIII.