I know you must be thinking, Windsor, I know that name. It has been the house name of the current Royal Family since 1917. I’ve also written a blog post entitled “Who is a Duke in the British Royal Family?” where I named all the current Royal Dukes. You’re wondering if the Duke of Windsor was mentioned, right?
My Discovery of the Duke of Windsor
My neighbor, Mary, brought up the subject and asked if I had ever heard of the Duke of Windsor. Honestly, I had no idea who he was at all. She’d read a book about this duke and told me there was quite the scandal about him. As we discussed the Duke of Windsor, I was intrigued. So, I dug a little deeper to find out what I could about this mystery duke.
Who is the Duke of Windsor?
There was only one Royal Family member with the title Duke of Windsor and his name was Prince Edward, the son of George V and Mary of Teck. In addition, the Duke of Windsor was once a king. Yes, the prince became King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom from January 20, 1936, until December 11 of the same year. Such a short reign as sovereign, isn’t it? Indeed.
The Scandal of Edward VIII
Prince Edward had a series of torrid affairs with several married women and even a prostitute prior to settling down. His father, George V was reluctant to see Edward become king. Of the prince, he said, “After I am dead, “the boy will ruin himself in 12 months.” The prophetic voice of King George V would show itself to be true shortly after his death.
Only months into his reign, Edward VIII caused quite the scandal that raised legal, political, religious, and moral objections. He proposed marriage to Wallis Simpson; a divorced American, who was only separated from her current spouse at the time. As King and head of the Church of England, Simpson’s marital status did not allow Edward to marry a divorced woman whose spouse(s) was still alive. Wallis’ first divorce was not recognized by the Church of England and if challenged in court, may not have been acknowledged under English law. At the time, adultery was to be the only grounds for divorce by law. Therefore, her current marriage and pending third to Edward would both be deemed bigamous and rendered invalid.
Governmental Objections to King Edward’s Marriage
The Prime Ministers of Australia, Canada, and South Africa of the British Empire made their disapproval to this marriage quite clear. As a divorcee and separated from her current husband, Simpson was perceived as entirely unsuitable both politically and socially to be the consort of a British king. In addition, British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin would have resigned his post if Edward were to go through with the wedding to Wallis. This would have forced a general election and ruined Edward’s status as a politically neutral monarch. Nevertheless, Edward’s love for Wallis prevailed and he would not give her up.
The Result of King Edward’s Choice
The continued rampant unwillingness to accept Simpson as the king’s consort compelled Edward VIII to make a choice. His refusal to give up Wallis Simpson finally led to his abdication of the throne in December 1936. He was succeeded by his brother Prince Albert, Duke of York as George VI. Edward VIII is the only British monarch to have voluntarily renounced his throne since the Anglo-Saxon period (roughly between 450 and 1066).
Becoming The Duke of Windsor
On December 12, 1936, after his abdication, Edward was given the title of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Windsor. He married Wallis Simpson the following year. Wallis gained the title of Duchess of Windsor upon their nuptials and they remained married until Edward’s death, 35 years later.
As the Duke and Duchess of Windsor produced no heirs, this dukedom ceased upon Edward’s death.
The Next Duke of Windsor
Though this dukedom has literally died out decades ago, there is speculation of a possible revival for Prince Harry. Once the prince is married, it is customary for The Queen to bestow the title of duke upon her grandson as she has done so with the Duke of Cambridge. Given the scandal surrounding this dukedom, do you think it likely Prince Harry will become Duke of Windsor? Most suppose the Duke of Ross or Duke of Sussex a more likely choice as there are no tainted associations with these titles. What are your thoughts about the Duke of Windsor and the events surrounding his life? Log in and post your comments.