Edward VIII was the son of King George V of England. He was born 23 June 1894 (while his great-grandmother Victoria was still on the throne). By his teen years when his father was on the throne, Edward considered the formal clothing he had to wear for ceremonies to be a ridiculous costume, and he continued to grouse about and resist protocol and ceremony throughout his life.

During his father's reign, Edward made overseas tours representing his country and charmed many people; he was considered a trend-setter (to the displeasure of his father, who had simple tastes). He showed no signs of wanting to marry and settle down, and actually had several affairs with married women. By the 1930s, he did seem permanently attached to Wallis Simpson, an American woman living in London with her second husband. She even acted as hostess at the prince's parties.

When Edward came to the throne in January 1936, he felt that as soon as Wallis divorced her husband, he would marry her and make her Queen. Having never paid much attention to royal propriety, he did not realize that the Church of England, of which he was nominally head, would never accept a Queen who had been twice divorced. The situation provoked a government crisis, and finding that there was no way to work out a compromise that both sides would accept, Edward abdicated from the throne on 10 December 1936 after reigning 11 months. (His next-younger brother became George VI).

Edward and Wallis were married in June 1937 in France. They were created the Duke and Duchess of Windsor by the new king, and a letter was sent to them saying that Edward had been reconferred the title of "Royal Highness," but that this did not apply to his wife or any children. (This was a break with the usual rules, as the non-reigning son or daughter of a king has always carried that title as well as their spouse, and Edward did not like it; in his own house Wallis was addressed as "Royal Highness" by anyone who would also address Edward that way.)

Edward served as Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Bahamas during World War II, but otherwise England did not have much that he could do, and the Duke and Duchess lived in France (and both wrote their memoirs and published them). Edward died of cancer on 28 May 1972; his body was brought back to England for burial, as was Wallis's when she died 14 years later.

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