The Abdication of King Edward VIII

Kelly Ross

Reading — Advanced Level
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Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Empire from January 20th, 1936, until his abdication on December 11th of the same year.

Edward was the eldest son of King George V and Queen Mary. Edward became king on his father's death in early 1936 and began to cause concern among politicians by his apparent disregard for established constitutional conventions. Only months into his reign, he caused a constitutional crisis by proposing marriage to Wallis Simpson, a two-time American divorcee.

The prime ministers of the United Kingdom and the Dominions would deem the marriage morally unacceptable, largely because remarriage after divorce was opposed by the Church of England, and the people would not tolerate Simpson as queen. Edward, therefore, chose to abdicate from his role as King and was succeeded by his younger brother Albert, who chose George VI as his regnal name.

With a reign of 326 days, Edward was one of the shortest-reigning monarchs in British history. He married Simpson in France on June 3, 1937. During World War II, he was stationed with the British Military Mission to France but, after private accusations that he held Nazi sympathies, he was appointed Governor of the Bahamas. After the war, Edward spent the rest of his life in retirement in France.
  1. How long did Edward reign as King?

  2. Why did Edward abdicate?

  3. Why were the prime ministers so opposed to the marriage?

  4. Where was Edward living before the end of World War II?

  5. Why was Edward named governor of Bahamas?

  6. Where did the he eventually die?


Practice your writing skills by discussing the questions below

  1. Would you have chosen to marry somebody over being King/Queen? Why?

  2. What other decisions made by world leaders were controversial? Why?

  3. Where would you like to live if you could pick any place in the world to live? Why?

    Kelly Ross

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