The Edward VIII abdication crisis occurred in the British Empire in 1936, when the desire of King-Emperor Edward VIII to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American socialite, caused a constitutional crisis.
The marriage was opposed by the King’s governments in the United Kingdom and the Dominions. Religious, legal, political, and moral objections were raised. Mrs Simpson was perceived to be an unsuitable consort because of her two failed marriages, and it was widely assumed by the Establishment that she was driven by love of money or position rather than love for the King. Despite the opposition, Edward declared that he loved Mrs Simpson and intended to marry her whether the governments approved or not.
The widespread unwillingness to accept Mrs Simpson as the King’s consort, and the King’s refusal to give her up, led to Edward’s abdication on 11 December 1936. He was succeeded by his brother Albert as George VI. Edward was given the title His Royal Highness the Duke of Windsor following his abdication, and he married Mrs Simpson the following year. They remained married until his death 35 years later.
Before, during and after World War II, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were suspected by many in government and society of being Nazi sympathisers.
The Duke and Duchess lived in France in the pre-war years. In 1937, they visited Germany as personal guests of the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, a tour much publicised by the German media. Hitler said of the Duchess, “she would have made a good Queen.”
In the 1950s and 1960s, she and the Duke shuttled between Europe and the United States, living a life of leisure as society celebrities. After the Duke’s death in 1972, the Duchess lived in seclusion and was rarely seen in public. Her private life has been a source of much speculation, and she remains a controversial figure in British history.
The Woman I Love (1972, made-for-TV movie) focused on Edward VIII’s love affair with Wallis Simpson. Wallis was portrayed by Faye Dunaway