On this day in 1937, Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor and the former King of England, married Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American. They lived in France for the next forty years, until the Duke died of cancer in 1977.
As King of England, Edward was the head of the Church of England, so when he proposed to Wallis Simpson, it created a constitutional crisis, as the Church of England didn’t recognize marriage of divorced people whose former spouses were still alive and both of Wallis Simpson’s ex-husbands still lived.
Edward had a choice, and he chose to abdicate to be with the woman he loved. He gave up the throne and his title as Prince of Wales. He was named Duke of Windsor, a title created for him, and that has never been bestowed upon anyone else.
It is interesting that fifty years later, Charles, Duke of Wales, made the opposite choice. He gave up the woman he loved (Camilla Parker Bowles) to marry Diana as his family wanted him to. I’m sure that Edward’s example was used to help persuade him, too.
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