Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Before There Was Harry and Meghan . . . There Was Edward and Wallis

 

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.

On December 10, 1936, what might be described as Britain’s “long national nightmare” came to an end when Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, Edward VIII, By the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India, threw in the towel and bailed on both his throne and his country.

“And a jolly good thing he did,” is probably the reaction you’d get from most older Brits today (those in the younger generations who haven’t heard it mentioned in early episodes of The Crown probably haven’t formed an opinion yet).

Edward’s leaving paved the way for his younger brother, the painfully shy and socially awkward “Bertie” to ascend to the throne as King George VI, where, along with his wife, Queen (Consort) Elizabeth, he pulled the country back together and cemented the role of the British monarch as emblematic of family, church, and decency, for decades to come. (Oh, and there was also that World War II business; Britons heaved a sigh of relief that they’d seen the back of the appeaser Edward in favor of George and Elizabeth (who Adolph Hitler once called “the most dangerous woman in Europe”).

Although the misty gauze of time and history imbues the story of Edward and Wallis with much sentiment, and, indeed, Edward’s own abdication speech tried to paint a picture of a selfless love, they were a rather unappealing couple. Edward had grown to manhood and into the role of Prince of Wales with a great deal of goodwill and favorable public opinion. He was handsome and rakish, fond of socializing and womanizing, and he was expected to make a noble match with one of the titled families of Europe. He was the star of the Court Circular, as can perhaps best be shown through the hit song of 1927, I’ve Danced with a Man Who’s Danced with a Girl Who Danced with the Prince of Wales. But, under the winning smile, he was superficial, mean and selfish, and his politics were questionable in an England that was beginning to experience rumblings of possible war with Germany.

Wallis Simpson was, when she met Edward in 1931, a married American socialite. The couple maintained a relationship over the course of five years, at which point, Edward acceded to the throne, and Wallis and Ernest Simpson, her second husband began divorce proceedings. Wallis sailed to England with the firm intention of marrying the King when the nasty business was concluded.

But she reckoned without Parliament and the Prime Minister. And the archbishop. And the press. And just about everybody else.

The ramifications were immense, and the stories proliferated. About her morals. And her nationality! And the King’s sexuality. And her own. Probably the less said about all that the better. Rumors of sadomasochism were just the camel’s nose, as it were. Queen Mary (Edward’s mother, who, when such things were expected of the Royal family, was held up as the arbiter of all things righteous and moral) certainly wasn’t having any of it. The two divorces were an insuperable problem for the Church of England, which would have considered any subsequent marriage a bigamous (trigamous?) relationship.(A civil marriage was out of the question, as it would have negated the monarch’s role as head of the church.) The government threatened to resign if Edward and Wallis went forward with their plan.

And eventually, an embattled and frazzled Stanley Baldwin announced that he would further research the effects of three possible alternatives and make a recommendation among them:

  1. Marry, and Wallis would become Queen: a royal marriage (what Edward and Wallis wanted)
  2. Marry, but she would not become Queen, and would receive a “courtesy title” (known as a morganatic marriage)
  3. Abdicate

The first option was generally held to be out of the question. The second option had no precedent in British history (keep a weather eye out for Camilla, though), and eventually that possibility was ruled out as well. Which left abdication, and after a stressful period of government flurry, and press back and forth in which what we’d consider the more “reputable” newspapers wrote against the marriage, and the “tabloids” favored a morganatic option, abdication was approved, and Edward was told he could make a speech to the nation renouncing the throne on his behalf, and on behalf of his heirs, forever.

Edward signed the Instrument of Abdication on December 10, 1936. and that day he also made the final revisions to his speech, which he delivered on December 11. The full speech is below, and I can’t help noting how whiny and selfish he sounds, both in his voice and in the text.

Image result for funeral of duke of windsorPost abdication, the newly designated Duke of Windsor moved to France, where he married his lady-love once her divorce from Ernest Simpson was finalized, on June 3, 1937, at which time she assumed the title “Duchess of Windsor.” They lived out their lives largely in obscurity, hobnobbing with Nazis before the war, and being sent to the Bahamas, where the Duke served as Governor for a time, in 1940 (to get him out of the way, one supposes). After the war, the couple returned to Paris, where Edward, Duke of Windsor, died on May 28, 1972. His remains were brought back to England and buried at Frogmore (hello, Harry and Meghan), marking the first time that Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, had been in the United Kingdom since 1936. Somehow, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother summoned the grace to stand at her side, although her dislike of the woman she blamed for the early death of her own husband was legendary (perhaps HM the QM had a few of her favorite cocktails before the event. Just saying).

Wallis herself died on April 24, 1986, and “the woman he loved” is buried beside her husband in the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore, Windsor.

The legends and stories surrounding the couple did not subside with their deaths, and they make regular appearances in all things media, including books, TV, films, video games, and alternative histories.

My own fond memory of the two of them though, is much more mundane, albeit, appropriately seasonal.

It’s of my Mum (who never met a rowdy or bawdy song she didn’t like), and who was eight years old when Edward abdicated, bellowing out most years on December 10, or as soon thereafter as she thought of it:

Hark the Herald Angels sing
Mrs. Simpson’s got our king!

Merry Christmas, all.

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There are 43 comments.

  1. Arahant Member

    Good riddance.

    • #1
    • December 10, 2019, at 3:27 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  2. MarciN Member

    It is so interesting that the law that said that Edward had to abdicate rather than marry a divorcee has been relaxed, which is a good thing since all of Elizabeth’s four children have gone through at least one divorce. If I could advise the royal family, I’d tell them skip this whole generation and go right to Princess Eugenie. She is sweet and intelligent, and she would make a great queen. All would be well in Great Britain and beyond. :-)

    I feel so sorry for Elizabeth II. She must have been mortified at the revelation about her son Andrew cavorting with Jeffrey Epstein. I can’t imagine her sorrow at having to ban her own son from Buckingham Palace. 

    I respect and admire Elizabeth II. I’m sorry her kids are so dumb. 

     

    • #2
    • December 10, 2019, at 3:29 PM PST
    • 15 likes
  3. Seawriter Member

    Edward most likely collaborated with the Nazis to become king after the war started. He left France after the German invasion, and holed up in Lisbon. He received the governorship of the Bermudas to get him out of Europe after British intelligence received disquieting information about German plans to install Edward as King of England once the Germans invaded England. Edward pretty much had to be ordered to go.

    The records on Edward during the period 1939-1941 are still classified. Speculation is they confirm his treasonable behavior. Maybe when the last of the generation of royals who served in WWII dies they will be declassified. I will be interested in seeing them.

    • #3
    • December 10, 2019, at 3:56 PM PST
    • 19 likes
  4. Vectorman Thatcher

    She: Edward’s leaving paved the way for his younger brother, the painfully shy and socially awkward “Bertie” to ascend to the throne as King George VI, where, along with his wife, Queen (Consort) Elizabeth, he pulled the country back together and cemented the role of the British monarch as emblematic of family, church, and decency, for decades to come.

    Many have seen the recent 2010 movie The Kings Speech, but there is also a good BBC series on YouTube called Bertie & Elizabeth.


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. There are many days available on the December Signup Sheet, including 1 this week! We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #4
    • December 10, 2019, at 4:33 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  5. Mark Camp Member

    She: The full speech is below, and I can’t help noting how whiny and selfish he sounds, both in his voice, and in the text.

    The photo of him was right below this observation of yours. I can’t help noting how whiny and selfish he looks, too.

    • #5
    • December 10, 2019, at 4:37 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  6. She Thatcher
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    She: Edward’s leaving paved the way for his younger brother, the painfully shy and socially awkward “Bertie” to ascend to the throne as King George VI, where, along with his wife, Queen (Consort) Elizabeth, he pulled the country back together and cemented the role of the British monarch as emblematic of family, church, and decency, for decades to come.

    Many have seen the recent 2010 movie The Kings Speech, but there is also a good BBC series on YouTube called Bertie & Elizabeth.


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. There are many days available on the December Signup Sheet, including 1 this week! We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    I thought The King’s Speech was terrific. Full Disclaimer: I grew up in a Royalist household. One of my favorite books as a child was The Little Princesses by former Royal nanny “Crawfie.” (Marion Crawford.) Although the book was respectful and kind, I found out later that the Royal Family was appalled that Crawfie had let the side down. She was kicked out of her lifetime “grace and favor” cottage, and they never spoke to her again.

    • #6
    • December 10, 2019, at 4:52 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  7. Weeping Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    It is so interesting that the law that said that Edward had to abdicate rather than marry a divorcee has been relaxed, which is a good thing since all of Elizabeth’s four children have gone through at least one divorce. If I could advise the royal family, I’d tell them skip this whole generation and go right to Princess Eugenie. She is sweet and intelligent, and she would make a great queen. All would be well in Great Britain and beyond. :-)

    I feel so sorry for Elizabeth II. She must have been mortified at the revelation about her son Andrew cavorting with Jeffrey Epstein. I can’t imagine her sorrow at having to ban her own son from Buckingham Palace.

    I respect and admire Elizabeth II. I’m sorry her kids are so dumb.

    I can understand skipping Charles. But why go to Eugenie and not William, Charles’ son?

     

    • #7
    • December 10, 2019, at 5:33 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  8. Weeping Member

    I’ve often wondered how Wallis felt when Edward was forced to resign. I tend to envision her dancing around at first, singing, “Yay! I’m going to be queen! I’m going to be queen! I’m going to be queen!” Then when news of Edward’s decision to abdicate reaches her, her pleased look transforms into one of anger; and she starts yelling, “I’m going to be what?!? What?!?!? I’m going to be WHAT?!?!?”

    Maybe I’m selling Wallis short. Maybe she did marry Edward for love. But I’ve always wondered if this was a case of “be careful what you wish for”. 

    • #8
    • December 10, 2019, at 5:44 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  9. MarciN Member

    Weeping (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    It is so interesting that the law that said that Edward had to abdicate rather than marry a divorcee has been relaxed, which is a good thing since all of Elizabeth’s four children have gone through at least one divorce. If I could advise the royal family, I’d tell them skip this whole generation and go right to Princess Eugenie. She is sweet and intelligent, and she would make a great queen. All would be well in Great Britain and beyond. :-)

    I feel so sorry for Elizabeth II. She must have been mortified at the revelation about her son Andrew cavorting with Jeffrey Epstein. I can’t imagine her sorrow at having to ban her own son from Buckingham Palace.

    I respect and admire Elizabeth II. I’m sorry her kids are so dumb.

    I can understand skipping Charles. But why go to Eugenie and not William, Charles’ son?

     

    Good point. I like William very much, and Kate. 

    You’re absolutely right. We don’t have to go all the way to Princess Eugenie. 

    • #9
    • December 10, 2019, at 6:24 PM PST
    • 1 like
  10. Seawriter Member

    Of no particular moment, but this is the thread for it: Has anyone else read Rhys Bowen’s The Royal Spyness series? The central character is an impoverished aristocrat who is 64th from the throne of England who undertakes espionage missions for the Queen. It is set in the 1920s and 1930s, and Edward plays a role in it. The series is an absolute stitch. If you are into the royals it is a must read.

    • #10
    • December 10, 2019, at 6:32 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  11. MarciN Member

    I’ve just finished watching the first three seasons (eight episodes each, plus a Christmas special after the second season) of Victoria from Masterpiece Theater. There is a fourth season in the works, and I am looking forward to it.

    The series is excellent. I would recommend it to everyone. It’s available on Amazon Prime. 

    • #11
    • December 10, 2019, at 6:40 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  12. Eridemus Coolidge

    I’ve seen a couple of conflicting dramatic interpretations of whether Wallis really expected to be Queen. In one depiction, that was her goal and she was shocked that it wasn’t going to happen. But in another, the affair with the King was just an adventure to her and it got out of control when he became too serious. I think later-released letters to her husband said she really missed him and things were beyond her control but she was trapped.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2023590/The-truth-Mrs-Simpson-Why-Wallis-wanted-marry-king.html

    • #12
    • December 10, 2019, at 7:25 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  13. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Weeping (View Comment):

    I’ve often wondered how Wallis felt when Edward was forced to resign. I tend to envision her dancing around at first, singing, “Yay! I’m going to be queen! I’m going to be queen! I’m going to be queen!” Then when news of Edward’s decision to abdicate reaches her, her pleased look transforms into one of anger; and she starts yelling, “I’m going to be what?!? What?!?!? I’m going to be WHAT?!?!?”

    Maybe I’m selling Wallis short. Maybe she did marry Edward for love. But I’ve always wondered if this was a case of “be careful what you wish for”.

    You mean the third mate on the tramp out of Baltimore ?

    • #13
    • December 10, 2019, at 7:39 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  14. Snirtler Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Of no particular moment, but this is the thread for it: Has anyone else read Rhys Bowen’s The Royal Spyness series? The central character is an impoverished aristocrat who is 64th from the throne of England who undertakes espionage missions for the Queen. It is set in the 1920s and 1930s, and Edward plays a role in it. The series is an absolute stitch. If you are into the royals it is a must read.

    Just borrowed book 1. Thanks for the recommendation.

    • #14
    • December 10, 2019, at 8:00 PM PST
    • 1 like
  15. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    For years the only recordings of the abdication speech of Edward VIII were poor quality off-the-shortwave versions that were recorded in America and sold to the public by such companies as Columbia, Brunswick and Electro-Vox. Surely there had to be a better copy, one made in the UK, no?

    Not if John Reith, the first Director General of the BBC, had any say about it. When the arrangements were being made for the speech Reith gave direct orders to engineers at the state broadcaster not to record it. Enter Marie Slocombe.

    Marie Slocombe

    Hired in 1936 as a summer relief secretary, one day Slocumbe was tasked with disposing of a stack of old transcription discs. Going through them she noticed speeches by George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Winston Churchill, G.K. Chesterton and others. She decided to keep them, annotated their contents and began adding to it. By 1939 she had over 2,000 discs saved of a historical nature.

    The speech was recorded at the BBC and Marie Slocombe kept it in her special “S Cupboard” which contained recordings only she knew existed. One day she revealed the existence of the forbidden recording to a BBC producer and she was sure she was going to get fired. But it didn’t happen.

    Eventually, in 1941, she was named the BBC’s first Sound Recordings Librarian. It is now one of the great treasures of the world.

    • #15
    • December 10, 2019, at 8:03 PM PST
    • 14 likes
  16. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I have no idea how accurate the portrayal was, but I found Edward and Wallis thoroughly unlikable and unsympathetic in The King’s Speech. Think of all the lives upended by his selfishness! And then there’s the Nazi sympathizer stuff and, well, good riddance indeed!!

    • #16
    • December 10, 2019, at 8:28 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  17. Weeping Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Weeping (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    It is so interesting that the law that said that Edward had to abdicate rather than marry a divorcee has been relaxed, which is a good thing since all of Elizabeth’s four children have gone through at least one divorce. If I could advise the royal family, I’d tell them skip this whole generation and go right to Princess Eugenie. She is sweet and intelligent, and she would make a great queen. All would be well in Great Britain and beyond. :-)

    I feel so sorry for Elizabeth II. She must have been mortified at the revelation about her son Andrew cavorting with Jeffrey Epstein. I can’t imagine her sorrow at having to ban her own son from Buckingham Palace.

    I respect and admire Elizabeth II. I’m sorry her kids are so dumb.

    I can understand skipping Charles. But why go to Eugenie and not William, Charles’ son?

     

    Good point. I like William very much, and Kate.

    You’re absolutely right. We don’t have to go all the way to Princess Eugenie.

    William (and Kate too) has always struck me as being pretty level-headed and understanding of what it means to be the king – the responsibility that comes with the title, not just the privilege. A bit of a throwback to his grandfather, perhaps. 

    • #17
    • December 10, 2019, at 9:05 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  18. Weeping Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Of no particular moment, but this is the thread for it: Has anyone else read Rhys Bowen’s The Royal Spyness series? The central character is an impoverished aristocrat who is 64th from the throne of England who undertakes espionage missions for the Queen. It is set in the 1920s and 1930s, and Edward plays a role in it. The series is an absolute stitch. If you are into the royals it is a must read.

    Thanks for the suggestion. I’l have to check it out. 

    • #18
    • December 10, 2019, at 9:06 PM PST
    • 1 like
  19. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Good riddance.

    As was apparently written for the first time 3000 years ago, there is nothing new under the sun. This certainly holds for extended family intrigue and scandal.

    • #19
    • December 10, 2019, at 9:47 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  20. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    MarciN (View Comment):

    It is so interesting that the law that said that Edward had to abdicate rather than marry a divorcee has been relaxed, which is a good thing since all of Elizabeth’s four children have gone through at least one divorce. If I could advise the royal family, I’d tell them skip this whole generation and go right to Princess Eugenie. She is sweet and intelligent, and she would make a great queen. All would be well in Great Britain and beyond. :-)

    I feel so sorry for Elizabeth II. She must have been mortified at the revelation about her son Andrew cavorting with Jeffrey Epstein. I can’t imagine her sorrow at having to ban her own son from Buckingham Palace.

    I respect and admire Elizabeth II. I’m sorry her kids are so dumb.

    Hold on now, Prince William and the Duchess Kate are both on their first marriage, and certainly are the most credible and attractive possible royals. They clearly know and accept their duties.

    From William the Conqueror to William the Restorer!

    • #20
    • December 10, 2019, at 9:50 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  21. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    EJHill (View Comment):

    For years the only recordings of the abdication speech of Edward VIII were poor quality off-the-shortwave versions that were recorded in America and sold to the public by such companies as Columbia, Brunswick and Electro-Vox. Surely there had to be a better copy, one made in the UK, no?

    Not if John Reith, the first Director General of the BBC, had any say about it. When the arrangements were being made for the speech Reith gave direct orders to engineers at the state broadcaster not to record it. Enter Marie Slocombe.

    Marie Slocombe

    Hired in 1936 as a summer relief secretary, one day Slocumbe was tasked with disposing of a stack of old transcription discs. Going through them she noticed speeches by George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Winston Churchill, G.K. Chesterton and others. She decided to keep them, annotated their contents and began adding to it. By 1939 she had over 2,000 discs saved of a historical nature.

    The speech was recorded at the BBC and Marie Slocombe kept it in her special “S Cupboard” which contained recordings only she knew existed. One day she revealed the existence of the forbidden recording to a BBC producer and she was sure she was going to get fired. But it didn’t happen.

    Eventually, in 1941, she was named the BBC’s first Sound Recordings Librarian. It is now one of the great treasures of the world.

    One of the cooler stories ever, for history and old time radio nerds like me.

    • #21
    • December 10, 2019, at 9:56 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  22. She Thatcher
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    It is so interesting that the law that said that Edward had to abdicate rather than marry a divorcee has been relaxed, which is a good thing since all of Elizabeth’s four children have gone through at least one divorce.

    Actually, Edward (the youngest) has not. He’s been married to Sophie Rhys-Jones since 1999, and that’s looking pretty stable (at least at the moment) going forward.

    Go back a few decades in time, and folks would have found that hard to believe, as Edward was regarded as a disappointment, a bit of a twit, and probably the most failure-prone of HM’s children. But he and Sophie and the kids seem fine. Still, one out of four un-divorced children isn’t a great track record when you’re the head of a church that still (theoretically) doesn’t believe in divorce except in exceptional circumstances.

    If I could advise the royal family, I’d tell them skip this whole generation and go right to Princess Eugenie. She is sweet and intelligent, and she would make a great queen. All would be well in Great Britain and beyond. :-)

    All Elizabeth has to do is outlast Charles, and, if all isn’t well, at least it will be better than it might have been . . . 

    I feel so sorry for Elizabeth II. She must have been mortified at the revelation about her son Andrew cavorting with Jeffrey Epstein. I can’t imagine her sorrow at having to ban her own son from Buckingham Palace.

    I respect and admire Elizabeth II. I’m sorry her kids are so dumb.

    Ditto.

     

    • #22
    • December 10, 2019, at 10:24 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  23. Saint Augustine Member

    Well, besides abdicating and making room for a better king, this chap did something else right.

    It’s a good tea.

    • #23
    • December 10, 2019, at 10:29 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  24. She Thatcher
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Here’s the song that was such a hit in 1927. I can’t find an earlier recording; this one is from 1979, by “Jenny Wren,” who sang in the soundtrack from the 1978 miniseries Edward and Mrs. Simpson.

    I make no judgment on the excellence of the musical number, but it’s a nice little montage of photos and video:

     

    • #24
    • December 10, 2019, at 10:43 PM PST
    • 1 like
  25. The Reticulator Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    From William the Conqueror to William the Restorer!

    William the Conquerer was also known as William the [non-CoC].

    • #25
    • December 10, 2019, at 10:59 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  26. Arahant Member

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    I have no idea how accurate the portrayal was, but I found Edward and Wallis thoroughly unlikable and unsympathetic in The King’s Speech.

    The movie was kind to them.

    • #26
    • December 11, 2019, at 12:05 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  27. Arahant Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    William the Conquerer was also known as William the [non-CoC].

    Well, that was technically correct. Robert the Munificent wasn’t married to Grandpa Willie’s mother.

    • #27
    • December 11, 2019, at 12:10 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  28. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    William the Conquerer was also known as William the [non-CoC].

    Well, that was technically correct. Robert the Munificent wasn’t married to Grandpa Willie’s mother.

    Not so much a judgement of William as it was of his forebears, but yeah, a judgement of Willie too.

    • #28
    • December 11, 2019, at 4:07 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  29. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    By the way, the single best performance in the first two seasons of The Crown was definitely Alex Jennings as the Duke of Windsor.

    True to life? Hell, who knows? But the part was delicious for the actor.

    • #29
    • December 11, 2019, at 6:41 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  30. Skyler Coolidge

    If Britains had any self respect they would do away with this degenerate institution and the depraved people in it. 

    • #30
    • December 11, 2019, at 9:34 AM PST
    • 3 likes