King Edward VIII

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Offical Portrait of King Edward VIII, November 1936 (John St. Helier Lander)

King Edward VIII of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1894-1972; reg. 1936) abdicated in 1936 after a reign of only a few months, giving up his position as head of the British Empire in order to marry an American two-time divorcee, Wallis Simpson. He had succeeded his father, George V, and was succeeded by his brother the Duke of York, who reigned as George VI.

In a tearful radio broadcast before his marriage to Wallis, King Edward VIII referred to her as "the woman I love".

It has been falsely suspected that Edward VIII was actually a Nazi sympathiser, and that this was the real reason why he was hounded out of office. He was neither a Nazi nor a Nazi sympathizer when he was king, and the suspicions came later and did not affect the abdication. Certainly he made a number of widely publicised visits to Nazi Germany after his abdication, and photographs exist of him shaking hands with Adolf Hitler. There are even reports that the Nazis, if their attempted conquest of Britain had been successful, were planning to restore him to the throne as a puppet. To remove him from Europe, Winston Churchill appointed him Governor of the Bahamas. After the war the Duke of Windsor, as he was then known, returned to Paris with his wife and eventually died in 1972, forsaken by all his relatives. Wallis, the Duchess of Windsor, died in 1986.

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