British Monarch. The King of the United Kingdom who abdicated to marry a divorced American. He was never crowned and his reign lasted only 325 days. Edward was born at White Lodge, Richmond, Surrey, England, the first in a family of six to the Duke and Duchess of York, the future British king. A younger brother, Prince John, was mentally challenged, and was kept out of public view until his death as a teenager. Edward attended all the traditional prestigious schools which trained Royalty for ascension to the throne. When the First World War started, he was allowed to join the Army and served with the Grenadier Guards. Edward was not allowed to serve on the front lines due to his position, but visited the front line often to boost morale. He was the first monarch to be a qualified pilot. As Prince of Wales, he represented his father, King George V, at home while undertaking 13 tours visiting the vast British Empire. He was introduced to Wallis Simpson, a divorced and remarried American socialite. They soon became a couple and Edward voiced his intention to marry, much to chagrin of the Royal Family and the British Government. His father, King George V, died and Edward ascended to the throne as King Edward VIII. He watched his own accession to the throne from a window of St. James's Palace in the company of the still-married Mrs. Simpson. He created a national crisis by proclaiming his intention to marry Wallis. The Prime Minister presented the King with two choices: Give up the marriage idea or abdicate. Edward chose the latter, duly signed an instrument of abdication, and made a broadcast to the nation and the Empire explaining his decision. He then departed the United Kingdom for Austria with a warning from the Royal Family: If he returned to Britain without an invitation, his allowance would be severed. Wallis was waiting for him and the-now Duke of Windsor married her in a private ceremony at Chateau de Cande, Monts, France. His brother succeeded to the throne as King George VI and his eldest daughter, Princess Elizabeth, would one day become Queen. The couple settled in France. The Duke and Duchess visited Germany as personal guests of Adolf Hitler expressing their admiration which unsettled the British Government. When the Germans invaded France, the Windsors fled to Spain. A "defeatist" interview with the Duke by a top Hitler Lieutenant received wide coverage and was the last straw for the British government. They dispatched a British warship and dispatched the pair to the Bahamas, where he was installed as Governor. He held the post until the end of World War I,I and, at the conclusion, returned again to France where the couple made their home for the rest of their lives. In later years, the Duke met with other members of the Royal Family on occasion, as they hosted parties and travelled extensively, becoming guests of the world's socialites. Their existence was lonely and childless; their dogs were substitutes for children and received all the attention. The Duke, a heavy smoker, died in Paris following a long bout with throat cancer at age 77. His body was returned to England accompanied by the Duchess of Windsor for burial. A brief thirty-minute service was held at St. George's Chapel attended by political leaders, statesmen, and diplomats, including all members of the Royal Family. Eight soldiers from the Welsh Guards carried the coffin draped with the Duke's personal standard. The service was conducted by the Dean of Windsor with the ending blessing given by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Burial followed in the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore next to his brother the Duke of Kent.
Bio by: Donald Greyfield