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Edward VIII
Edward VIII

Edward VIII (1894-1972), became king of the United Kingdom on January 20th, 1936, and gave up the throne on December 11th that same year. He was the oldest son of King George V and Queen Mary of the English ruling family known as the House of Windsor. Edward succeeded his father as king.

Edward was born in London. He was made Prince of Wales in 1911 at Caernarfon Castle, Wales. He was the first Prince of Wales to deliver his address in Welsh. Edward was educated at the Royal Naval College and at Oxford University. He served in World War I (1914-1918) as aide-de-camp to Sir John French, who during part of the war was commander of the British Expeditionary Force in France.

The prince became a great traveller, and was often called the empire's salesman. After World War I, Edward visited Canada, the United States, South America, Africa, India, Australia, and New Zealand, promoting world peace, British trade, and the unity of the British Empire. His democratic spirit, charm, and diplomacy made him popular. In the UK, he took an interest in the living conditions of the underprivileged and working classes.

Edward fell in love with Wallis Warfield Simpson, an American divorcee. Because his government and many of his subjects were opposed to accepting her as queen, Edward abdicated his throne. He then left England in self-imposed exile. His brother, George VI, who succeeded him, gave him the title Duke of Windsor. Edward married Mrs. Simpson in June 1937.

In 1939, Edward visited England for the first time since his abdication. He volunteered for a military position during World War II (1939-1945) and was made a liaison officer. In 1940, George VI made him governor of the Bahamas, which were then a British colony. He served there until 1945. After the war, Edward lived mostly in France.