Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in
The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
While royal scandals have rocked the British throne many times this century, few have put the institution in as much danger as the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936. Because of the standards monarchs were expected to meet at the time, the king was forced to choose between his crown and "the woman I love," a twice-divorced American from Baltimore named Wallis Warfield Simpson. The exiled couple were titled the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and went on to lead lives of stunning vacuity. An excerpt from The Post of Dec. 12, 1936:
Special Dispatch to The Washington Post
London (Saturday), Dec. 12 --
David Edward Windsor left his homeland under cloak of darkness today on a destroyer bound for an unannounced port and exile a few hours after he had said farewell to the regretful empire he had ruled.
The former King Edward VIII told the greatest radio audience that ever had listened to one man that he could not wear Britain's crown without "the woman I love." He sailed from Portsmouth Naval Base at 1:50 a.m.
After his dramatic radio farewell to his subjects, Edward dined with the new King, George VI, the former Duke of York, the Queen mother, and other members of the royal family, then slipped away to Portsmouth.
Down on the sunny Riviera Mrs. Wallis Warfield Simpson sat by her radio and heard the former ruler of the world's greatest empire explain that he renounced his throne because he intended to marry her. ...
David Edward Windsor's final hours in London began when members of the House of Windsor held a farewell dinner just before His Majesty went before the microphone to address a waiting world and a breathless empire. ...
Promptly at 10 p.m. the solemn tones of Big Ben, striking the hour, were broadcast.
Then the voice of Sir John Reith, director of the British Broadcasting Co., said simply:
"His Royal Highness, Prince Edward."
Before the broadcast Edward had been consulted as to what title should be used when he was introduced. It had been agreed to call him Prince Edward.
His position, it was said, was that he had been born a prince, and that he was one still. His abdication affected nothing but his kingship. ...
After Sir John spoke, there was only a slight pause.
Then there came over the air the voice of Edward himself. It appeared as if he were uncertain of himself. Sometimes his voice seemed choked.
Throughout his address it trembled. But as he neared the conclusion, it became firm. When he finished he fervently said:
"God bless you all! God save the King!" ...
The last words of Edward's farewell fell on hushed and spellbound listeners. In thousands of groups there was not a murmur. ...
Wherever there was a radio, in streets, homes, theaters and pubs, people gathered. They wanted to hear the last words of their King.
When Edward mentioned "the woman I love," women wept in the streets, and when he said that George VI "had one blessing, enjoyed by so many of you and not bestowed on me -- a happy home with his wife and children," men squared their jaws.
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