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King Edward VIII

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Edward VIII (Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David; later The Duke of Windsor; 23 June 1894 – 28 May 1972) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India, from 20 January to 11 December 1936.

Edward was the eldest son of King George V and Queen Mary. He was created Prince of Wales on his sixteenth birthday. As a young man, he served in the British Armed Forces during the First World War and undertook several foreign tours on behalf of his father.

Edward became king when his father died in early 1936. He showed impatience with court protocol, and politicians were concerned by his apparent disregard for established constitutional conventions. Only months into his reign, he caused a constitutional crisis by proposing marriage to the American socialite Wallis Simpson, who had divorced her first husband and was seeking a divorce from her second. The prime ministers of the United Kingdom and the Dominions opposed the marriage, arguing that the people would never accept a divorced woman with two living ex-husbands as queen. Additionally, such a marriage would have conflicted with Edward’s status as head of the Church of England, which opposed the remarriage of divorced people if their former spouses were still alive. Edward knew that the government led by British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin would resign if the marriage went ahead, which could have dragged the king into a general election and would ruin his status as a politically neutral constitutional monarch.

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