SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please considering donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!


If Edward VIII had not abdicated, who would be Monarch today?

British Library/ Public Domain and UK Home Office

We all love a royal what if and perhaps one of the most intriguing of recent times revolves around the question of the king who renounced his throne for love. What if Edward VIII hadn’t abdicated? Who would be Monarch now?

There are two roads to go down here. The first is that Edward VIII did give up the woman he loved. No marriage to Mrs Simpson would leave him free to wed someone else. Who is a matter of pure speculation. But a marriage might well have led to children meaning his direct line would rule. Possibly.

However, there was sufficient discontent within the ranks of his closest advisers about his approach to ruling to have caused concern even before his romance with Mrs Simpson became a constitutional issue. Reports of red boxes being left unread, of a manner that veered between domineering and disinterested has led to debate about whether the House of Windsor could have survived under his tenure at a time of huge social change.

There are also his political views to consider. Edward was known to have shown sympathy to some elements of the Nazi regime, enough so to have again raised concern among politicians. Hitler was later said to have talked about making Edward king again if the UK fell to his forces. The question remains – had Edward been king would the Monarchy and the country as we know it have survived?

Let’s suppose it had. The other option is that Edward had gone ahead and married Mrs Simpson while refusing to give up his throne. There might have been a right royal row about her title but she would have been his wife. However, we know that the couple never had children together and that both of them were in their forties by the time they wed. Chances are that situation would have been replicated even if he had remained king.

And without a child of his own, Edward’s heir remained his brother, Bertie, the man we know as George VI. At the time of the Abdication, there was some discussion about passing the throne to another of their siblings given Bertie’s shyness and his stammer. But that was seen as too much of a change. Had Edward remained on the Throne then Bertie would have remained first in line. He died in 1952, twenty years before his older brother, meaning the role of heir would have passed to Bertie’s daughter, Elizabeth.

And so the most likely answer to the question of who would rule had Edward never abdicated? Either that the Monarchy wouldn’t have survived his already problematic attitude towards it or that right now our ruler would still be The Queen.

About author

Lydia is a writer, blogger and journalist. She's worked in the media for over twenty years as a broadcast reporter, producer and editor as well as feature and online writer. As well as royals and royal history, she's a news junkie and podcaster.