Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David was born on the 23rd June 1894. He was the eldest son of George V and Mary of Teck.
His father became King George V on 6th May 1910 and Edward, generally called David by the family, became Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothsay. He was invested as Prince of Wales on 23rd June 1910.
Edward served in the Grenadier Guards during World War One but was not allowed to fight on the front line due to his being heir to the throne.
After World War One he took up royal duties both at home and abroad. He was very popular and his photographs appeared worldwide.
During the 1930s he gained a playboy reputation and had several liaisons with married women. During this period he was introduced to Mrs Wallis Simpson. The two became close and Edward fell in love with her.
George V made no secret of his disapproval of his eldest son’s way of life and Edward’s refusal to give up Wallis Simpson deepened the rift between father and son.
Edward became King on 20th January 1936. Wallis Simpson remained his close companion and when divorce proceedings between her and her husband began it became apparent that he meant to marry her. However, the Church of England did not allow the remarriage of divorced people where their former spouse was still living. As the monarch is constitutionally head of the Church of England, Edward could not marry Wallis Simpson without a change in the constitution.
Not wishing to cause a constitutional crisis, Edward abdicated the throne on 11th December 1936 and his brother Albert became King George VI. Edward was given the title Duke of Windsor by his brother.
Edward and Wallis Simpson were married in France on 3rd June 1937. King George VI would not allow any members of the royal family to attend the wedding. The new Duke and Duchess were not allowed to return to the United Kingdom without invitation and settled in France.
During World War Two the Windsors, as Edward and Wallis Simpson became known, returned to Britain but moved to the Iberian peninsular when the Germans invaded Northern France. Edward’s attitude towards the Germans gave rise to accusations of sympathising with the Nazi party. In 1943 Churchill sent Edward to the Bahamas as Governor and he remained in post until the end of the war.
After the war Edward and Wallis returned to France where they lived in relative seclusion because the royal family refused to accept the duchess.
During the 1960’s the Duke’s health began to deteriorate. He had been a heavy smoker from an early age and died from cancer of the throat on 28th May 1972. A funeral service was held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle and he was buried in the Royal Burial Ground.
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