The Mother-Son Relationship From Hell: Queen Mary & Edward VIII

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The relationship between Edward VIII and his mother, Mary of Teck, is perfectly illustrative of not only the significance of a generational gap, but of how differing views on duty and happiness can be enough to drive a wedge between parent and child. In the case of Edward VIII, or “David” as he was known to his family, and Mary, their relationship was complicated by how each viewed the function of the monarchy itself. Theirs is hardly the first unhappy parent-child relationship in the Royal Family’s history, but it is one that feels more poignant thanks to how recently it unfolded, how much more we know about it and the fact that it was not devoid of natural affection.

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The Abdication Crisis of 1936

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Eighty-one years ago today King Edward VIII signed an instrument of abdication to step down from the throne, an act witnessed by his three younger brothers. On December 10, 1936, Edward had been on the throne for less than 11 months following the death of his father, George V, and his time in the top job had been a series of actions that lost him the trust of much of his government, horrified his family and broken any number of traditions that had once been taken for granted. His last task would come the next day when he issued royal assent for the declaration of abdication.

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The Duke & Duchess of Windsor’s Wedding 80 Years Later

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It was a modest affair. The bride, for her third trip down the aisle, wore blue crepe. The only note of ostentation was a large diamond and sapphire brooch. Though perhaps the other note was the groom himself, the Duke of Windsor, eldest son of King George V and Mary of Teck, the former King Edward VIII.

The couple were wed at the Chateau De Cande in Monts, France, a glamorous setting by anyone’s standards except, perhaps, their own. It was a far cry from the pomp and ceremony of Westminster Abbey, the setting they would likely have chosen were they any other royal pair. But Edward was less than six months away from having abdicated the throne, an unprecedented act to have undertaken by choice, and one to which he was driven by the simple fact that Britain would never have accepted Wallis Simpson as queen.

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England’s Most Awkward Dinner Party

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On July 9, 1936 King Edward VIII hosted his second official dinner at his residence, Fort Belvedere. In attendance were his brother and sister-in-law, the Duke and Duchess of York, Winston Churchill, and his long-time “companion,” Mrs. Wallis Simpson sans her husband, Mr. Ernest Simpson. The event was published in the Court Circular, which caused a bit of a stir because it made it appear as though, by socializing with them, the Yorks were condoning Edward’s relationship with Wallis.

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That Time Edward VIII Watched the Proclamation of His Kingship…With Wallis Simpson

 

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On January 21, 1936, this happened. Now, I only recently found this out, having given it literally no amount of thought, but monarchs don’t watch the formal proclamation of their accession. In Edward’s case, he not only did it, but he did it publicly from a window in St. James’s Palace next to none other than his  long-time, still-married companion, Wallis Simpson. #Scandal. Well, sort of.

Edward’s father, George V, died on January 20 at Sandringham House in Norfolk after a 25-year reign. Edward was 43, unmarried, childless and had, in certain circles, a reputation for being a bit of playboy, particularly if the women in question were married.

At the time that he became king, his relationship with Wallis Simpson wasn’t well-known to the public – thus, seeing them together wouldn’t raise alarm bells for most people. But it certainly did for those who knew who Wallis was, particularly members of Edward’s government, his family and his courtiers. As Edward was about to find out, what had been tolerated for the throne’s heir, would emphatically not be for its king.

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