Fascinating Edward VIII facts – from womanising to giving up the throne

This week marks the 85th anniversary of Edward VIII’s abdication – the controversial king who gave up his throne for love.

On December 10, 1936, the monarch, who had reigned for just 11 months, quit the role – and the country – after his plan to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson caused a storm.

But how much do you know about him? Here are 15 fascinating facts…

Born on June 23, 1894 to the future King George V and Queen Mary, he was christened Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David – but was usually known as “David”.

His nanny was fired after it was found she was secretly pinching him. He later went to naval college and served as a midshipman on a battleship before going to Oxford University. Keen on partying and polo, but a poor student, he left without a degree.

Made Prince of Wales in 1911, he joined the Grenadier Guards when World War One broke out and, though banned from fighting, frequently visited the trenches of the Western Front.

Handsome and fashionable, he became a popular celeb, travelled the world and was the first royal to get a pilot’s licence.

A notorious womaniser Edward romanced French courtesan Marguerite Alibert – who later shot her husband at the Savoy Hotel and was sensationally acquitted of murder in 1923.

He had a 16-year affair with Freda Dudley Ward, the wife of an MP, before meeting Wallis Simpson at a 1931 party.

Disapproving King George V said: “After I am dead, the boy will ruin himself within 12 months.” When he did die in 1936, Edward became king.

Although postage stamps were issued with his face, no coins went into circulation. He never had a coronation – joining Edward V and Lady Jane Grey as monarchs never crowned.

He caused controversy for meddling in politics when he toured poor Welsh mining communities, saying “something must be done”. Edward also survived an assassination attempt.

When he told Stanley Baldwin’s government he wanted to marry Wallis – on her second divorce – it sparked a constitutional crisis. He was head of the Church of England but it opposed divorcees remarrying.

The 42-year-old abdicated rather than leave her, becoming the only sovereign to ever give up the throne voluntarily. His younger brother Albert became king as George VI.

The next day Edward went on radio to tell the shocked nation: “I have found it impossible to discharge my duties of king without the help and support of the woman I love.”

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Made Duke of Windsor, he married Wallis in 1937 with a handful of guests. They settled in France and the same year visited German leader Adolf Hitler.

Suspected of being a Nazi sympathiser, during World War Two Edward was made governor of the Bahamas.

He died in Paris in 1972, aged 77, after suffering with cancer and was buried in Windsor. The Duchess died in 1986 aged 89.

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