King Edward VIII

King Edward VIII

A short reign and abdication

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Edward was born on 23 June 1894 in Richmond, Surrey, and was the eldest child of the Duke of York. In 1901, his father ascended the throne, becoming George V, and Edward was created Prince of Wales. Throughout the 1920s, Edward undertook extensive tours across various countries, more often in conjunction with the Empire, on his father’s behalf. He also played an active role in visiting areas of the United Kingdom which suffered from high unemployment and deprivation as a result of the economic depression of the early 1930s, making him very popular among the British public.

In January 1936, Edward’s father, King George V died and Edward became King. In October of the same year, Edward’s love interest, Wallis Simpson, was granted a divorce from her American businessman husband in preparation to wed the King, against the advice of many of Edward’s advisors who did not believe that, as head of the Church of England, he should marry a divorcée.

On 10 December 1936, Edward signed an instrument of abdication before broadcasting to the nation and the Empire the following day to explain his actions and leaving for Europe. Edward’s younger brother ascended the throne thereafter, becoming King George VI.

A result of Edward’s short reign saw a delay in issuing new postage stamps featuring the portrait of King George and, following Edward’s abdication, stamps featuring his profile portrait taken by Hugh Cecil’s studio continued to remain in circulation for several months. In June 1937, Edward married Wallis Simpson and the couple were bestowed the titles of Duke and Duchess of Windsor. For the next two years, the couple resided mainly in France, before Edward was appointed the Governor of the Bahamas upon outbreak of the Second World War.

Following the end of the war, Edward returned with his wife to France, only paying short visits to the United Kingdom to attend funerals of family members owing to the discord caused by his marriage to Wallis Simpson. Edward died of throat cancer on 28 May 1972 in the city of Paris and his body was repatriated back to the UK where he was subsequently buried near Windsor.