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. Written in 1951, in his own hand, the Duke recalls his austere upbringing, his days at Oxford, the Great War, his profound love for Wallis Simpson, and the dilemma that confronted him in the months leading up to his abdication. Out of print, but available from Alibris.
The Heart Has Its Reasons by the Duchess of Windsor. The memoirs of the woman Edward VIII loved, first published in 1956. Out of print, but sometimes available from Amazon.
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, from boyhood to Prince of Wales, uncrowned King, in exile, and as governor of the Bahamas. It also examines his relationships with George V, Queen Mary, George VI, Freda Dudley Ward, Wallis Simpson, and Adolf Hitler.
The Woman Before Wallis: Prince Edward, the Parisian Courtesan, and the Perfect Murder by Andrew Rose. Marguerite Alibert was a beautiful but tough Parisian courtesan who had a tumultuous love affair with the future king Edward VIII. When she stood trial for her husband's murder, Edward was at risk of having his behavior exposed.
The People's King: The True Story of the Abdication by Susan Williams. Through contemporary letters and diaries, this book discusses the huge popularity of King Edward VIII and the events that led to his downfall.
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 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. This book asks, "Was the Duke a conspirator in a gigantic cover-up? Did he try to execute an innocent man to protect himself and his friends?"
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 new evidence that she may never have wanted to marry him at all.
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.
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 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 from her Pennsylvania birth through her long marriage to the former King Edward VIII, exploring the myths that surround her.
The Duchess of Windsor: The Secret Life by Charles Higham. Very trashy, gossipy biography that repeats every rumor about Edward and Wallis.
The Woman He Loved by Ralph G. Martin. Tells the story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
The Duchess of Windsor: An Illustrated Biography by Diana Mosley. An intimate friend of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Diana Mosley (wife of British fascist leader Oswald Mosley) was a frequent guest at their parties. This book also includes portraits of Mosley's other friends, such as Evelyn Waugh and Lytton Strachey.
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.
Dancing With the Devil: The Windsors and Jimmy Donahue by Christopher Wilson. King Edward VIII of England abdicated his throne to marry the woman he loved, but was theirs really a perfect storybook romance? Maybe not, according to this book, which alleges that during their marriage the Duchess of Windsor had a four-year affair with a wealthy gay playboy named Jimmy Donahue -- and that the duke didn't mind.
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.
Abdication: A Novel by Juliet Nicolson. The story of Britain's Abdication Crisis is told through the eyes of fictional characters, including a girlhood friend of Wallis Simpson and a social acquaintance of King Edward VIII.
Gone With the Windsors by Laurie Graham. Humorous fictional diary of a social climber who witnesses the romance of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.
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.
Wallis: My War by Kate Auspitz. A fictional account of the Duchess of Windsor's life, narrated by the Duchess herself.
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
The British Monarchy - Edward VIII (official website)