Edward VIII abdication: 77 years ago today

10 December 2013 - 03:41pm
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Edward VIII

On 10 December 1936 when the clock stuck 10 am, Edward VIII who had been king since 20 January of the same year upon the death of his father, King George V, put pen to paper and signed the official abdication papers. Witnessing this event – that would alter the course of British history forever – were his three brothers Albert (who would become George VI), Henry and George. Edward was no longer the sovereign once Parliament endorsed the document the following day.

The next day on 11 December, Edward gave his last broadcast to the nation:

At long last I am able to say a few words of my own. I have never wanted to withhold anything, but until now it has not been constitutionally possible for me to speak.

A few hours ago I discharged my last duty as King and Emperor, and now that I have been succeeded by my brother, The Duke of York, my first words must be to declare my allegiance to him. This I do with all my heart.

You all know the reasons which have impelled me to renounce the Throne. But I want you to understand that in making up my mind I did not forget the country or the Empire which as Prince of Wales, and lately as King, I have for twenty-five years tried to serve. But you must believe me when I tell you that 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.

And I want you to know that the decision I have made has been mine and
mine alone. This was a thing I had to judge entirely for myself. The other person most nearly concerned has tried up to the last to persuade me to take a different course. I have made this, the most serious decision of my life, only upon the single thought of what would in the end be best for all.


This decision has been made less difficult to me by the sure knowledge that my brother, with his long training in the public affairs of this country and with his fine qualities, will be able to take my place forthwith, without interruption or injury to the life and progress of the Empire. And he has one matchless blessing, enjoyed by so many of you and not bestowed on me – a happy home with his wife and children.
During these hard days I have been comforted by Her Majesty my mother and by my family. The Ministers of the Crown, and in particular Mr Baldwin, the Prime Minister, have always treated me with full consideration. There has never been any constitutional difference between me and them and between me and Parliament. Bred in the constitutional tradition by my father, I should never have allowed any such issue to arise.

Ever since I was Prince of Wales, and later on when I occupied the Throne, I have been treated with the greatest kindness by all classes of the people, wherever I have lived or journeyed throughout the Empire. For that I am very grateful.

I now quit altogether public affairs, and I lay down my burden. It may be sometime before I return to my native land, but I shall always follow the fortunes of the British race and Empire with profound interest, and if at any time in the future I can be found of service to His Majesty in a private station I shall not fail.

And now we all have a new King. I wish him, and you, his people, happiness and prosperity with all my heart. God bless you all. God save The King.

The whole tale of Edward and Wallis Simpson is full of speculation and various incarnations of facts. The bottom line is Edward gave up the kingdom for love.

Despite the two divorces of Mrs Simpson, the pro-Nazi sympathising, being relegated to the position of Governor of the Bahamas and various other indiscretions, the marriage of The Duke of Windsor to Wallis Simpson endured until his death in 1972.

To this day, Edward is the only British monarch to voluntarily abdicate. His abdication was a pivotal point in modern Monarchy history. Had he not given up the crown for love, would the country now be in a different state? One will never know.

photo credit: e r j k p r u n c z y k via photopin cc

Spotted an Error?

  • Jennifer Clark

    Perhaps it would be more correct to say that Edward is the only British monarch to abdicate voluntarily. Others are considered to have abdicated; Henry VI (a couple of times), Richard II, and then Charles II.

    • Royal Central

      Amendment made; thanks very much :)

      • Jennifer Clark

        You are most welcome.

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