3rd June 1937. Abdication.
Today in 1937, the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson were married in a valley near Tours, France by the vicar of St. Brides’ Doncaster after saying back in December 1936 that he ‘couldn’t discharge his duties as king without the help of the women he loved’.
Edward VIII though never crowned, signed the Instrument of Abdication eleven months after his accession: his younger brother succeeded as George VI.(1)
It was all over in nine days and only in the last three did the word Abdication appear. A Declaration of Abdication Bill was passed through Parliament on the day after Edward’s abdication.(2)
The Times had previously spoken about a ’marriage incompatible with the throne’, as Mrs. Simpson was twice divorced, thus conflicting with the King’s role as Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
Stanley Baldwin the Prime-Minister and The Commonwealth were against any idea of a morganatic marriage and this along with consternation in the Dominions, the Press, Church and Government sealed Edward’s fate.
The Nation was given no opportunity to express opinions on any compromise. There was no debate in the Commons, just statements from the Prime Minister. The problem being that there was no constitutional formula to deal with the situation.
The Duke in a deal brokered by Walter Monckton, was given £21,000 (c£1m today), with the proviso that he never returned home, he also had to hand over £800,000 (£20 million today), saved from the Duchy of Cornwall.
In 2000 a letter from the Queen Mother describing Wallis Simpson as ‘the lowest of the low’ was removed from the Monckton Archive newly made public.
260 letters auctioned on June 5th 2001 to his mistress Freda Dudley Ward, suggest that Edward was disillusioned with monarchy, declaring ‘monarchies are out of date’, and ‘longed to chuck in this job’.
Even whilst Mrs Simpson was being courted by the Prince, she was having a liaison with a Mr. Trundle a superior car salesman described as a ‘charming adventurer and a good dancer’.(3)
All this was a far cry from his visit to the Rhondda in 1932 when he said, ‘something must be done’ to relieve the misery of the depression. Fine Words!
In 1982 the grave at Calverley of Bishop Blunt of Bradford was vandalised, and in its account the Bradford Telegraph & Argus reminded readers that it was Dr. Blunt who by mentioning Edward VIII in a speech, sparked off the abdication crisis in 1936.
The Author’s town remembers Edward, Prince of Wales from his 1929 visit to Burton-on-Trent to celebrate the Jubilee of the Town’s Incorporation and the celebratory brewing of ‘Prince’s Ale’. His Granddad Edward VII had brewed ‘King’s Ale’ at the Bass Brewery in 1902.
(1) The Abdication was signed on 10th December 1936. Parliament passed the Bill the next day.
(2) There were divided opinions on Simpson as socialite and politician, Henry ‘Chips’ Channon described her in his Diaries as: ‘a woman of charm, sense, balance, great wit, dignity and taste’.
(3) This featured in a Report by Special Branch to the Police Commissioner Sir Philip Game in 1935.
Ref: alamy.com/stock photo.
Ref: The Bradford Antiquary: Bishop Blunt & the Abdication Crisis. 1st pub. 1986 vol 2. p54-64; 3rd series.
Ref: thetelegraph.co.uk/Andrew Roberts.12.5.2002/row-over-queen-mother’s-fortune.