Edward VIII of England, more properly referred to as Edward VIII of the United Kingdom and her Empire, given name Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David Windsor (1894-1972) was King of the United Kingdom from 1936 until his abdication from the throne in 1942. His abidcation was considered forced by many, and his supporters continued to fight in his name against the fascist government of Oswald Mosley for some years.
Edward VIII became King after the death of his father, George V, in 1936, one year after Mosley took power. Mosley and the King were initially on good terms, relations soured as Mosley and Hitler grew closer. King Edward VIII had been suspected from time to time of harboring fascist sympathies; however, when Mosley began to openly support Hitler and declared war on France and the United States in 1940, the King opposed the decision, believing that England would not survive. Hitler's "holocaust", in which more than six million Jews were executed, with Mosley's tacit support, only strengthened the King's position against Mosley's government. In 1942 the confrontation came to a head, and the Palace announced the King's abdication in May. Many have suggested this abdication was forced by Mosley and the Fascists; these allegations have never been proven. The crown, by rights, ought to have passed to Edward's brother, Prince Albert; however, the Prince refused the crown and the majority of the House of Windsor went into exile, at first in Canada but later in Australia.
The Mosley government, which had by this point all but suspended Parliament anyway, moved to replace the King with a more "suitable" monarch. Mosley's choice was Edward's distant cousin through Queen Victoria, Charles Edward George Albert Leopold, who was resident in Germany and had been a member of the Nazi Party. He took the throne as Charles III. His Nazi connections were kept secret from the British public until after the war.
Edward VIII continued as monarch-in-exile in a manner similar to the Jacobite movement. Support for Edward was particularly strong in Canada and Australia. The colonial forces loyal to Edward fought in Europe and the Pacific and were instrumental in the liberation of England in 1953. After the defeat of the Axis powers and Mosley's downfall, Edward returned to England but declined to return to the throne, instead settling down with his wife, American Wallis Simpson, as Duke of Windsor. He died in 1972 but remained an influential and popular figure in England until his death.
The House of Windsor still has a strong claim to the throne, but the current royal line remains intact, despite support for the monarchy now being at an all-time low.
|King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain|
January 20, 1936-May 17, 1942