Edward VIII 1894-1972 (Duke of Windsor)

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EDWARD VIII 1894-1972 (Duke of Windsor)


Born June 23, 1894, in Richmond Park, Surrey, England; died of throat cancer, May 28, 1972, in Paris, France; son of George V Frederick Ernest (king of Great Britain) and (Victoria) Mary Augusta Louisa Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes (princess of Teck); married (Bessie) Wallis Warfield Simpson, June 3, 1937. Education: Attended Royal Navy Colleges at Osborne and Dartmouth and Magdalene College, Oxford University. Religion: Church of England.


Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, and Duke of Rothesay, beginning 1910; Counsellor of State, 1928-29, 1936; King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Emperor of India, 1936; Duke of Windsor, 1937-72; Royal Governor and Commander in Chief of the Bahama Islands, 1940-45. Military service: Admiral of the Fleet, Field Marshal in the Army, Marshal of the Royal Air Force, 1936.


Knight of the Order of the Garter, 1910; Spanish Order of the Golden Fleece, 1912; Grand Cross Légion d'Honneur, 1912; Order of the Elephant, 1914; Grand Cross Norwegian Order of St. Olav with Chain, 1914; Order of the Annunziata, 1915; Russian Order of St. George, 1916; Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, 1917 (Grand Master, 1917-36); Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, 1917 (Grand Master and First or Principal Knight, 1917-36); Knight of Justice of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, 1917 (Prior for Wales, 1917-36); Roumanian Order of Michael the Grave, 1918; Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, 1920; Privy Councillor, 1920; Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India, 1921; Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire, 1921; Royal Victorian Chain, 1921; Knight, 1922; Grand Cordon Egyptian Order of Mohammed Ali, 1922; Swedish Order of the Seraphin, 1923; Collar Roumanian Order of Carol I, 1924; Chilean Order of Merit, First Class, 1925; Bailiff Grand Cross of Order of St. John of Jerusalem, 1926; Knight of the Order of St. Patrick, 1927; Privy Councillor of Canada, 1927; Peruvian Order of the Sun, 1931; Grand Cross Bolivian Order of the Condor of the Andes, 1931; Portuguese United Orders of Christ and Aviz, 1931; Grand Cross Brazilian Order of the Southern Cross, 1933; Grand Cross Order of Knighthood of St. Agatha of San Marino, 1935; Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, 1936; Imperial Service Order, 1937.


The Prince of Wales' Book: A Pictorial Record of the Voyages of H.M.S. "Renown," 1919-1920, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1921.

H.R.H. Prince Edward's Speeches in India, Natesan (Madras, India), 1922.

Speeches of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, 1912-1926, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1927.

Sport and Travel in East Africa: An Account of Two Visits, 1928 and 1930, edited by Patrick R. Chalmers, Philip Allan (London, England), 1934.

Farewell Speech of King Edward the Eighth Broadcast from Windsor Castle the Tenth Day of December, MCMXXXVI, with the Instrument of Abdication & a Note by William Saroyan, Ransohoffs (San Francisco, CA), 1938.

A King's Story: The Memoirs of H.R.H. the Duke of Windsor, Putnam (New York, NY), 1951.

The Crown and the People, 1902-1953, Cassell (London, England), 1953, Funk & Wagnalls (New York, NY), 1954.

A Family Album, Cassell (London, England), 1960, published as Windsor Revisited, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1960.

(With the Duchess of Windsor) Wallis & Edward: Letters, 1931-1937: The Intimate Correspondence of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, edited by Michael Bloch, Summit Books (New York, NY), 1986.


King Edward VIII of England, and his wife, the American Wallis Warfield Simpson, had what has often been considered to be one of the most romantic love affairs of the twentieth century. When Edward's father, George V, died on January 20, 1936, Prince Edward became king at the age of forty-one. However, unbeknownst to much of the British public, the new, unmarried king had been carrying on an affair with Simpson, currently married and already once divorced, for several years. Although their relationship was widely reported in the foreign press and certainly known to many upper-class Britons, the British press maintained a policy of not reporting on the private lives of their royalty. Edward did not break off the affair when he ascended to the throne, and their relationship eventually became a cause of great consternation to certain members of the British ruling class. Edward, as king, was also head of the Church of England, and it was thought that the head of a church ought to display a higher standard of morality.

The scandal became a crisis when Simpson's husband granted her a divorce in the fall of 1936, to become official in the spring of 1937. When Edward was informed of this, he told the prime minister that he was going to marry Simpson. The prime minister told Edward that as the head of the Church of England he could not marry a divorcée, and the rest of the royal family, not to say the majority of the British public, agreed. Faced with such opposition, on December 10, 1936, Edward gave up his crown rather than give up the woman he loved.

Many years after the abdication, the former King Edward, now Edward Duke of Windsor, published his memoirs. In them, he tried to explain his decision to the reader. "She promised to bring into my life something that wasn't there," he wrote. "I was convinced that with her I'd be a more creative and more useful person." More creative the Duke of Windsor might well have been, but the British government and royal family would not allow him to be useful. Except for a stint as governor of the Bahamas during World War II, Edward spent most of the rest of his life living and entertaining in splendor in Paris and New York. The rest of the Windsors shunned the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and were only reconciled days before Edward died of throat cancer in 1972, at the age of seventy-seven.



Beaverbrook, Lord, The Abdication of King Edward VIII, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1966.

Bloch, Michael, The Duke of Windsor's War: From Europe to the Bahamas, 1939-1945, Coward-McCann (New York, NY), 1983.

Bloch, Michael, Operation Willi: The Plot to Kidnap the Duke of Windsor, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1985.

Bolitho, Hector, King Edward VIII: An Intimate Biography, Literary Guild (New York, NY), 1937.

Bryan, J., III, and Charles V. J. Murphy, The Windsor Story, William Morrow (New York, NY), 1979.

Cannon, John, editor, The Oxford Companion to British History, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1997.

Deakin, Ralph, Southward Ho!: With the Prince in Africa and South America, with a preface by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, K. G. Methuen (London, England), 1925.

Dennis, Geoffrey Pomeroy, Coronation Commentary, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1937.

Edward VIII, A Family Album, Cassell (London, England), 1960, published as Windsor Revisited, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1960.

Edward VIII, A King's Story: The Memoirs of H.R.H. the Duke of Windsor, Putnam (New York, NY), 1951.

Edward VIII, The Crown and the People, 1902-1953, Cassell (London, England), 1953, Funk & Wagnalls (New York, NY), 1954.

Edward VIII and Wallis Warfield Simpson, Wallis & Edward: Letters, 1931-1937: The Intimate Correspondence of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, edited by Michael Bloch, Summit Books (New York, NY), 1986.

Encyclopedia of World Biography, second edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.

Gibbs, Philip, Ordeal in England, Doubleday, Doran (Garden City, NY), 1937.

Inglis, Brian, Abdication, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1966.

Jardine, Rev. R. Anderson, At Long Last, Murray & Gee (Hollywood, CA), 1943.

Laqueur, Walter, editor, A Dictionary of Politics, revised edition, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1974.

Lockridge, Norman, Lese Majesty: The Private Lives of the Duke & Duchess of Windsor, Boar's Head Books (New York, NY), 1952.

Lonsdale, Frances, Lady Donaldson, Edward VIII: The Road to Abdication, J. B. Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1974.

Mackenzie, Compton, The Windsor Tapestry: Being a Study of the Life, Heritage, and Abdication of H.R.H. the Duke of Windsor, Frederick A. Stokes (New York, NY), 1938.

Maine, Basil, Our Ambassador King: His Majesty King Edward VIII's Life of Devotion and Service as Prince of Wales, Hutchinson (London, England), 1936.

Martin, Ralph G., The Woman He Loved, Simon and Schuster (New York, NY), 1974.

Murphy, Bruce, editor, Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia, fourth edition, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

Townsend, W. and L., The Biography of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1929.

Warwick, Christopher, Abdication, Sidgwick & Jackson (London, England), 1986.

White, J. Lincoln, The Abdication of Edward VIII: A Record of All the Published Documents, George Routledge & Sons (London, England), 1937.

Zeigler, Philip, King Edward VIII, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 1991.


Atlantic, May, 1951, p. 77.

Booklist, April 15, 1951, p. 292; December 1, 1960, p. 208.

Bookmark, May, 1951, p. 180.

Book Review Digest, 1951, p. 262; 1961, p. 395; 1987, p. 2009.

Catholic World, June, 1951, p. 238.

Chicago Sunday Tribune, April 15, 1951, p. 3.

Christian Science Monitor, April 19, 1951, p. 11; November 23, 1960, p. 11.

Economist (U.S. edition), September 29, 1990, review of The Mighty Fallen: King Edward VIII, p. 100.

Foreign Affairs, July, 1951, p. 678.

History Today, June, 1981, Noel Carrington, "The Prince and the Mahatma," pp. 52-53.

Horn Book, July, 1951, p. 242.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 1951, p. 217; September 1, 1960, p. 814.

Library Journal, May 1, 1951, p. 776; November 15, 1960, p. 4140; August 1986, p. 141; August, 1986, Pat Ensor, review of Wallis and Edward: Letters, 1931-1937: The Intimate Correspondence of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, p. 72.

Life, February, 1985, "Clown Prince," p. 50; June, 1986, "The Woman He Loved," pp. 95-97.

Maclean's, October 8, 2001, Jennifer Wells, "The Cowboy Prince: The Duke of Windsor Proudly Owned an Alberta Ranch for 43 Years," p. 52.

Mademoiselle, October, 1986, Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, "Tear Jerks: Looking Back at the Duke and Duchess of Windsor," p. 170.

Modern Maturity, June-July, 1980, Annette Winter, "After the Abdication," pp. 43-46; June-July, 1982, "He Gave It All Up in the Name of Love," p. 10.

Nation, June 2, 1951, p. 519.

New Leader, December 1, 1986, Ray Alan, "Hanging on Princes' Favors," pp. 16-17.

New Statesman, November 29, 1999, Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, "The King's Decision," p. 50.

New Statesman & Nation, September 29, 1951, p. 344.

Newsweek, May 5, 1986, "An Affair to Remember," p. 45; June 16, 1986, Walter Clemons, review of Wallis and Edward, p. 72.

New York, January 16, 1989, Leslie Field, "Palais Royal: How the Windsors Lives," pp. 25-26.

New Yorker, May 26, 1951, p. 117; January 14, 1961, p. 119.

New York Herald Tribune Book Review, April 15, 1951, p. 1.

New York Times, April 15, 1951, p. 1.

New York Times Book Review, December 11, 1960, p. 3; June 29, 1986, p. 12.

People, May 12, 1986, "The King and Mrs. Simpson," pp. 38-48, "Out of the Past," p. 177; May 19, 1986, excerpt from Wallis and Edward, pp. 110-115; December 22, 1986, Charlene Bry, "End of an Era," pp. 126-127; February 12, 1996, "The Greatest Love Stories of the Century: King Edward VIII & Wallis Simpson," pp. 66-68.

San Francisco Chronicle, April 22, 1951, p. 20.

Saturday Review of Literature, April 14, 1951, p. 26.

Spectator, September 28, 1951, p. 385.

Springfield Republican, May 20, 1951, p. 9B; January 29, 1961, p. 4D.

Time, April 16, 1951, p. 119.

Times Literary Supplement, September 28, 1951, p. 605; May 16, 1986, p. 527.

Vogue, January, 1980, Amy Gross, "The Windsors: The Romance of the Century?," pp. 162-165.

Wilson Library Bulletin, May, 1951, p. 119.*

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Edward VIII 1894-1972 (Duke of Windsor)

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