King Edward VIII was the eldest child of Britain's King George V and Queen Mary. In 1930, while he was still Prince of Wales, Edward met an American woman named Wallis Warfield Simpson. Her first marriage had ended in divorce, and when she met the prince she was married to her second husband, Ernest Simpson. The prince, who was single and had a reputation as a playboy, fell deeply in love with Mrs. Simpson.
George V died in January 1936, and Edward VIII succeeded him as king. Mrs. Simpson divorced her husband later that year. The king was determined to marry her, but he could not convince the royal family or government officials to accept a divorced woman as his queen. On December 11, Edward VIII officially abdicated. In a radio broadcast that evening, he explained his decision to the public, saying, "I have found it impossible to carry on the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge the duties of king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love." His younger brother succeeded him as King George VI and granted Edward the title Duke of Windsor.
The Duke of Windsor married Wallis on June 3, 1937, but she was never accepted by the royal family. For the rest of their lives the couple lived abroad, mostly in France. In 1940, during the Second World War, the Duke became governor of the Bahamas. In 1945, he and his wife returned to France. The Duke wrote an autobiography, A King's Story, which was published in 1951. The Duchess of Windsor's autobiography, The Heart Has Its Reasons, was published in 1956.
The Duke of Windsor died in Paris on May 28, 1972. The Duchess remained in Paris until her own death on April 24, 1986. They are buried at the royal Frogmore cemetery at Windsor Castle in England.
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Book categories: Books by the Duke & Duchess, Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor, Duchess of Windsor, Fiction, DVDs, George V, George VI, The Royal Family, Royal Scandal, 20th Century, British Royal History
A King's Story: The Memoirs of the Duke of Windsor by the Duke of Windsor. The Duke recalls his austere upbringing, his love for Wallis Simpson, and the abdication.
The Heart Has Its Reasons by the Duchess of Windsor. The memoirs of the woman Edward VIII loved, first published in 1956.
Wallis Simpson's Diary edited by Helen Batting. This diary for 1934 provides insight into the thoughts and lifestyle of a woman who was accused of setting out to steal the throne of England.
King Edward VIII: The Official Biography by Philip Ziegler. A study of the life of Edward VIII. It examines his relationships with George V, Queen Mary, George VI, Freda Dudley Ward, Wallis Simpson, and Adolf Hitler.
Edward VIII: The Uncrowned King by Piers Brendon. Drawing on unpublished material, this biography traces Edward's life from bright young prince to troubled sovereign and sad expatriate.
King Edward VIII: An American Life by Ted Powell. What if Edward VIII's abdication was set in motion not by his love for Wallis Simpson but for America?
The Playboy Princes: The Apprentice Years of Edward VII and VIII by Peter J. Beer. This dual biography offers a portrait of men living for the moment, knowing that a later life of solemn duty beckons.
The King and Mrs. Simpson: The True Story of the Commoner Who Captured the Heart of a King by Erin Frances Schulz. A narrative history that uses flashbacks and passages from the couple's memoirs.
The Man in the Brown Suit: MI5, Edward VIII and an Irish Assassin by James Parris. Was the failure to prevent an assassination attempt on the king due to blundering or something more sinister?
Women Before Wallis
The Woman Before Wallis: Prince Edward, the Parisian Courtesan, and the Perfect Murder by Andrew Rose. Marguerite Alibert was a Parisian courtesan who had a tumultuous love affair with the future king. When she stood trial for her husband's murder, Edward was at risk of having his behavior exposed.
Before Wallis: Edward VIII's Other Women by Rachel Trethewey. About future King Edward VIII's adoration for Rosemary Leveson Gower, Freda Dudley Ward, and Thelma Furness.
The Abdication Crisis
The King Who Had To Go: Edward Vlll, Mrs Simpson and the Hidden Politics of the Abdication Crisis by Adrian Phillips. Reveals the harsh realities of how government responds when a British monarch steps out of line.
The Crown in Crisis: Countdown to the Abdication by Alexander Larman. A day-by-day narrative of the Abdication Crisis, based on previously unseen archival material and interviews with close friends of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.
Traitor King: The Scandalous Exile of the Duke & Duchess of Windsor by Andrew Lownie. This biography portrays the glamorous exiles as spoiled, selfish people who revelled in adulterous affairs.
17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis and the Biggest Cover-Up in History by Andrew Morton. Looks at the secret ties among Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, the Duke of Windsor, and Adolf Hitler before, during, and after World War II.
The Royal Governor.... and the Duchess by Oliver Platt. About the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in the Bahamas, 1940-1945.
Blood and Fire: The Duke of Windsor and the Strange Murder of Sir Harry Oakes by John Marquis. About a murder that took place when the Duke of Windsor was governor of the Bahamas. Was the Duke a conspirator in a cover-up?
Wallis in Love: The Untold Life of the Duchess of Windsor, the Woman Who Changed the Monarchy by Andrew Morton. This biography uses diary entries and letters to offer a portrait of Wallis Simpson.
The Real Wallis Simpson: A New History of the American Divorcée Who Became the Duchess of Windsor by Anna Pasternak. According to this biography, Wallis was the victim of the abdication, a scapegoat for those who wished to dethrone Edward VIII.
That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor by Anna Sebba. This biography explores the obsessive nature of Simpson's relationship with Edward VIII, and evidence that she may never have wanted to marry him.
Behind Closed Doors: The Tragic, Untold Story of the Duchess of Windsor by Hugo Vickers. Focuses on the Duchess's final years, when according to the author she was a victim of exploitation after the death of her husband.
The Woman He Loved by Ralph G. Martin. Tells the story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
The Duchess of Windsor: The Uncommon Life of Wallis Simpson by Greg King. Biography. Draws on newly declassified documents to chronicle the story of Wallis Simpson.
The Private World of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor by Hugo Vickers; photographs by Fritz Von Der Schulenburg. Photos from the private collection of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. 400 color illustrations.
The Duchess of Windsor: The Secret Life by Charles Higham. Trashy, gossipy biography that repeats every rumor about Edward and Wallis.
Dancing With the Devil: The Windsors and Jimmy Donahue by Christopher Wilson. Alleges that during her marriage to the Duke of Windsor, Wallis had a four-year affair with a wealthy playboy -- and that the duke didn't mind.
The Duchess of Windsor: An Illustrated Biography by Diana Mosley. A friend of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Mosley was a frequent guest at their parties.
Noblesse Oblige: The Duchess of Windsor as I Knew Her by Richard René Silvin. The author knew the Duchess in her later life, and describes her as a clever, funny, and loving woman.
The Last of the Duchess by Caroline Blackwood. The Duchess of Windsor spent her last days guarded by her lawyer. This book takes the reader behind the facade of the Windsor myth to give an account of the Duchess's life and death.
The Duchess by Wendy Holden. Wallis Simpson falls in love with the Prince of Wales, but when he refuses to give her up, her fairy tale becomes a nightmare.
Wallis: My War by Kate Auspitz. A fictional account of the Duchess of Windsor's life, narrated by the Duchess herself.
Gone With the Windsors by Laurie Graham. Humorous fictional diary of a social climber who witnesses the romance of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.
Abdication: A Novel by Juliet Nicolson. The story of Britain's Abdication Crisis is told through the eyes of fictional characters.
The Woman Before Wallis: A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts, and Royal Scandal by Bryn Turnbull. Novel about Thelma Furness, who captured future king Edward VIII's heart before Wallis Simpson did.
The Golden Prince by Rebecca Dean. Novel set in 1911 in which the future King Edward VIII has a romance with a high society girl.
Lost Autumn by Mary-Rose MacColl. In 1920 Australia, a young woman serves on the train tour of dashing Edward, Prince of Wales. But glamour hides all manner of sins.
These DVDs are formatted for North American audiences.
Edward & Mrs. Simpson. A critically acclaimed British mini-series from 1978, finally available on DVD. Seven episodes shot in sumptuous period detail, starring Edward Fox as King Edward VIII and Cynthia Harris as Wallis Simpson. The DVD also features the "Wallis Simpson" episode from A&E's "Biography" series.
Wallis & Edward starring Joely Richardson. A 2005 TV movie about British king Edward VIII's love affair with Wallis Simpson, which began when he was Prince of Wales and she was still married to Ernest Simpson.
W.E. The singer Madonna co-wrote, produced, and directed this 2011 movie about the romance of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.
Edward on Edward. In this documentary, Prince Edward presents the life story of his great-uncle, the Duke of Windsor, who gave up the throne to marry the woman he loved. Two videotapes. Sometimes available from Amazon.
Other British Royalty DVDs
DVDs About Elizabeth II and Prince Philip
Queen Elizabeth II