Lifestyle

Royal ripples: the King's abdication drama

On December 11 in 1936, King Edward VIII gave up the throne so he could marry the divorced woman he loved, a thin tall American socialite named Wallis Simpson. While the American public campaigned for Simpson to become Queen, the Australian media kept their coverage reverent and respectful of the royal family.

When the King renounced his throne in 1936 so he could marry divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson, it was thought the public would have no appetite to love a King who could not be united in holy matrimony.

"I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love," the King announced in a public address.

It was thought that back in 1936, the Church of England - and politicians and the public - could not accept their Royal leader being married to a woman who had been twice-divorced. So David (as King Edward VIII was known to his family and friends) took the crown off his head and married Wallis Simpson in 1937.

The Australian Prime Minister Joseph Lyons made a statement after the abdication saying: ""I feel sure that I am voicing the sentiments of every Australian when I express the most profound regret at the step which his Majesty King Edward has taken. We must all wish most heartily that he had acted otherwise."

The times, the attitudes were different

King Edward VIII was charismatic and popular and known to have had a number of mistresses which the British press - much like the Australian media - had never told the public about.

(Wallis had even been introduced to the King by one of his former mistresses in 1931, when he was said to have fallen head over heels for the willow-thin American Wallis, whose previous husband had been an alcoholic.)

Less than 100 years later, King Charles is now on the throne married to a divorced woman who the public did know he had an affair with while married to Princess Diana. How times change ...

Back in the late 1930s, the American media reported on the couple very differently to the Australian media (who looked to Britain as its 'mother country').

Americans were quite enamoured with the idea that one of their own people could become a British royal, and some even advocated for Simpson to become the Queen. Naturally, the British press never reported on this.

After the King abdicated, the British and Australian newspapers focussed on the reign of Queen Elizabeth's father, with American magazines more fascinated by covering Edward and Wallis's jetsetting lifestyle.

Like the Americans, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was also said to be keen for Wallis to become a queen.

The British aristocracy, politicians and Church of England were reportedly disgusted by the couples' association with Adolf Hitler - and there were lots of media whispers that the couple were Nazi sympathisers, or even spies.

In recent times - with both Wallis Simpson and David have passed on - a new documentary found that Wallis Simpson may not have been as in love with David as he was with her.

This video reveals the discovery of some new letters that transform the story of Wallis. She reportedly had another lover and wrote him letters 2 years after Edward abdicated.

The remains of King Edward VIII (known as David) and his wife Wallis Simpson lie side by side in separate, simple graves in the Royal Burial Grounds of Frogmore, close to Windsor Castle, England.

The burial grounds are in the shadow of Queen Victoria's mausoleum, Edward VIII's great-grandmother.

Before they died both Edward and Wallis had to gain Queen Elizabeth II's permission to be buried among members of the British Royal Family.

Wallis died in 1986 while Edward, who died in 1972, lies in the grave next to her.

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