King Edward VIII is remembered as the King who gave up his crown for love. In 1936, after less than 12 months on the throne after acceding after the death of his father earlier in the year, Edward VIII abdicated in order to marry his twice-divorced American lover, Wallis Simpson.
Today, it has emerged that at the height of the 1936 abdication crisis, as it became to be known, the Government had bugged Edward VIII’s private phone calls. The official documents found recently say that the Home Office ordered “interception of telephone communications” between royal residences and “the continent of Europe”.
During the time of this phone bugging, Wallis Simpson lived in France. An official document dated 5th December 1936, just 5 days before Edward VIII chose to abdicate, from the Home Office to the General Post Office’s head Sir Thomas Gardiner which was marked Most Secret read: “The home secretary asks me to confirm the information conveyed to you orally, with his authority by, by Sir Horace Wilson that you will arrange for the interception of telephone communications between Fort Belvedere and Buckingham Palace on the one hand and the continent of Europe on the other.”
A journalist, on 6th December, wrote to the Home Office it has emerged, claiming that Edward VIII had already abdicated and wanted more details. Notes say the response to the journalist from the Home Secretary went: “I asked him if he did not realise that his responsibilities as a journalist and an Englishman made the sending of such a message without definite authority as to its truth very improper and reckless.”
Also in these files includes a series of documents relating to a bomb threat to the King’s lover at the time in London. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Philip Game said officers had been alerted in the early hours of one morning to a report running in the US of a bomb threat to Mrs Simpson’s central London home.