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after a scandalous summer, Edward
VIII would stand in Westminster Abbey in December to receive the Crown and
swear to uphold the laws of England, Scotland, and the Empire as well as
serve as Defender of the Faith.
He had reigned since the death of his father, George V, that January, and
a suitable amount of time of mourning had passed to engage in the
celebration of a new monarch. It would be a change of obedience to
tradition from Edward's notorious shirking, such as his insistence on
facing left on coins to show the part of his hair instead of following the
usual alternating of the direction faced with every new monarch.
In the minds of many, there was concern that Edward, Prince of Wales,
would be suitable for king at all. He had lived a good royal childhood,
but Alan Lascelles, his private secretary during the ?20s and ?30s, wrote
"for some hereditary or physiological reason his normal mental development
stopped dead when he reached adolescence". He carried on many affairs,
some with married women, and caused great concern from his father and the
prime minister. In 1930, George V gave Edward a house at Fort Belvedere,
where he would meet the woman that would forever change his life, Mrs.
Wallis Simpson. The American had divorced her first husband, Earl Spencer,
in 1927, and was currently married to Ernest Simpson. Despite the
marriage, Edward fell in love with her, and she with him, which caused
scandal to arise so much that the King and Prime Minister had them
followed by secret police.
"No King could have remedied British military
weakness as the problems were at their core financial." - reader's comment
the king died on January 20, 1936, Edward ascended the throne and
immediately continued scandal. He observed the proclamation of his
ascension alongside the still-married Mrs. Simpson, criticized the
Government by saying "something must be done" upon visiting the struggling
miners of South Wales, and suggested to some that he meant to marry the
divorcee Mrs. Simpson, which would be morally unacceptable as the leader
of the Church of England.
Everything in Edward's life changed again on July 16, 1936, as he was
horseback riding near Buckingham Palace. On Constitution Hill, Jerome
Brannigan, an Irishman, produced an envelope for the King. Inside were
letters, photographs, and various papers showing that Mrs. Simpson had
been seeing, and doing more, with other men. The King became furious, and
police escorted Brannigan away. While some modern historians suspect the
documents were fabricated by MI5, they were treated as genuine at the
time. Edward immediately broke relations with Mrs. Simpson through a
letter and refused to receive her despite the many times she asked. In an
action that had shown shocking discipline for the man who had left Oxford
without a degree, the King searched through little-used law until he found
grounds to banish Mrs. Simpson from Britain and the whole of the Empire.
She would move to France and later be married to writer and painter Henry
Miller for her third marriage.
Following his split from Mrs. Simpson, Edward became what those close to
the royal family described as "a hard man". He threw himself into the work
of the king and made good on his note that "something must be done",
pushing for new socialist systems being integrated into Britain. His
policies on the colonies were initially indifferent, then forcefully
paternal, such as famously saying that there were "not many people in
Australia" and he didn't care for their opinion.
" This guy was an idiot, perhaps even a bit
mentally unstable ." - reader's comment
Most famously in his reign
was his relationship with German Fuhrer Adolph Hitler. Edward had seemed
an admirer of Hitler's, and many of Edward's programs at overcoming the
Depression in Britain mirrored those of the Third Reich. In 1938, however,
upon Hitler's desire for expansion into Czechoslovakia, the King forbade
Prime Minister Chamberlain to give expansionist Germany a single inch. The
French Government sought peace at the expense of imperialism, but Edward
refused, even if it meant war. He had observed the trenches in WWI and
noted that he did not want war, but he would be willing to risk military
action in order to protect the world from predators. He wrote then-MP
Winston Churchill, "I was promised peace once before, and I was betrayed.
Never again will I or my country ascribe to vague promises from those who
shall not keep them".
War did erupt in 1939 with Hitler's military occupation of the Sudetenland
, and Edward had made certain that the British Armed Forces were ready
with years of preparation and military buildup. Using allied Poland and
Belgium as launching grounds, the expeditionary forces caught Hitler in a
pincer move along with French forces from the Saarland. The Fuhrer was
found dead in his bunker after the taking of Berlin in 1941, apparently
After the war, Britain regained its position as leader among world
affairs. Edward would spend the rest of his reign putting out the fires of
Communism and independence in various parts of the empire. After years of
strenuous work, he died in 1962 at age 67. Having never married, he would
be succeeded by his niece, Queen Elizabeth II.