Edward VIII became King in January 1936. He had fallen in love with Wallas Simpson, a commoner who was also an American and a divorcee and at the time married to her second husband. The two had been meeting secretly since 1930.
In October 1936, Mrs. Simpson filed for divorce in order to marry Edward. The Royal family and Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin were enraged. The King sought a morganatic marriage in which Mrs. Simpson would not become Queen. The Cabinet refused to allow the marriage. Edward VIII abdicated in December 1936 saying he would did not want to be King if he could not be with the woman he loved. Edward VIII and his wife went into exile and lived abroad for the rest of their lives.
Edward VIII was the head of the English church which did not recognize divorce. Marrying Mrs. Simpson would not have been accepted by the English people and English law had no precedent for a wife of the king with no title or official capacity. Rumors circulated that Mrs. Simpson was a German spy. During the war, the couple lived in occupied Europe and rumors circulated that Edward VIII was in liaison with Hitler intending to invade England and take back his throne. Due to the Act of Succession in 1701, the English monarch has no right to choose his/her spouse and his/her private life is always open to public display and scrutiny. The newspapers of the time and the radio blasted the event all over the world. Edward VIII was the first king to voluntarily abdicate in favor of George VI.
Hotel Del Coronado is The hotel where Edward VIII met Mrs. Simpson
Walter L. Arnstein, Britain Yesterday and Today: 1830-present, (Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001), 330-330.
This page was compiled by Elizabeth Carr, for HIST 350, British History