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What Happened to Edward VIII after His Abdication?

A portrait of King Edward VIII, when he was still Prince of Wales,
 c1920. Image: Wikimedia

On December 11, 1936, Edward VIII, who reigned as King of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Emperor of India, abdicated after reigning for only 326 days in order to marry the woman he truly loved, the two-time American divorcee Wallis Warfield Simpson. "I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love," he explained. He immediately reverted to being a prince of the United Kingdom and the following day, his brother and successor, King George VI, made him Duke of Windsor. But what happened afterwards? Did he lived into oblivion? Here’s the story of what happened to Edward VIII after he abandoned the throne of Great Britain for love.

He married Wallis Simpson

He immediately moved to France, where, on June 3, 1937, he married Wallis Simpson. She had changed her name by a deed poll to Wallis Warfield. Their marriage at the Chateau de Cande was a private affair. King George VI prohibited members of the British Royal Family to attend the wedding, much to the resentment of the couple. Wallis,however, was not allowed to be styled royal highness and was instead accorded the dignity of that of a duke’s wife. Thus, she was known as Her Grace The Duchess of Windsor from the moment she married Edward until her own death.

Edward and Wallis. Image: Wikimedia

He received a pension

The Duke was provided a comfortable financial settlement after his abdication, although the amount of 25,000 pounds was a pittance compared to the income he was receiving as a King. In return, the King had to give up ownership of Sandringham House and Balmoral Estate, the properties which he inherited from King George V. As the sovereign’s personal property, ownership, therefore, did not automatically pass to King George VI after he succeeded Edward. Aside from the allowance her received from his brother, Edward has also accumulated a personal fortune amounting to as much as 1 million pounds, from the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall. The investments provided him additional 25,000 pounds annually.

King Edward VIII had to give up ownership of Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House when he abdicated. He was provided an annual pension instead. Image: Wikimedia

He befriended Adolf Hitler

In October 1937, the Duke and Duchess went on a trip to Germany despite the opposition of the British government. The met was heavily covered by the press and they were warmly welcomed by Adolf Hitler at his retreat in Obersalzberg. During the visit the Duke gave full Nazi salutes. Many historians alleged that Hitler would have reinstate Edward as king had he successfully conquered Britain during the war.

The Duke of Windsor inspects German troops. Image: Wikimedia

Adolf Hitler welcomes the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Image: Wikimedia

He was sent to the Caribbean during World War II

On the outbreak of the World War II, the Duke’s second cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten took the couple to Britain. In August 1940, Edward and Wallis embarked on a trip to Bahamas, where he served as the British colony’s Governor-General. The Duke did not enjoy being governor calling the island "a third-class British colony" as much as he detested most of the British empire’s colored peoples.  Nevertheless, he did his best to fight the poverty that plagued the locals.

They settled in France

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor spent the remaining years of their lives after the war in retirement. He was never offered any official positions since then. They permanently lived in Paris, being offered a by the City of Paris an opulent home, 4 Route du Champ d'Entraînement, on the Neuilly-sur-Seine side of the Bois de Boulogne, for a nominal rent. The home eventually became popular as Villa Windsor. They also converted an 18th century mill into their favorite weekend retreat, Le Moulin de la Tuilerie, located southwest of Paris. 

Villa Windsor. Image: Daily Mail

Le Moulin de la Tuilerie. Image: Landmark Trust

... wrote some books

With the help of a ghost-writer, the Duke produced his memoir in 1951. Titled A King's Story, he wrote about his opposition to liberal politics. The book's royalties supplemented his income. In 1960, he wrote the forgettable A Family Album, which discussed about the fashion and habits of the Royal Family from the reign of his great-grandmother Queen Victoria until his own.

… and became society’s darling

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, they were society celebrities, popular among café society and enjoyed frequent trips in New York. They also enjoyed rearing pugs.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor with U.S. President Richard Nixon. Image: Wikimedia

The Duke of Windsor’s health deteriorated in the 1960s and, being  a heavy smoker since his youth, was eventually diagnosed with throat cancer. Shortly before his death, Queen Elizabeth II paid him a visit. He died on May 28, 1972 at the age of 78. The Duchess of Windsor’s condition soon declined and she suffered from dementia. She died 14 years later,and was buried alongside her husband as "Wallis, Duchess of Windsor."


  1. No proper research in this article. On his abdication the Duke of Windsor gave up the life of castles, palaces, antiques, paintings, fabulous jewels and jewellery, carriages and servants. The amount given by King George VIth was a pittance after his brother's years of service to Great Britain and the 1st World War service and his years travelling around the world supporting the empire.

    He was never pro Hitler, the Duke visited Germany as a state visit as he minded terribly that his wife had been let down and sidelined by his family. He accepted the invitation so that his wife would be treated to a royal welcome as all other wives of his family were accustomed. Edward's mother was German as most of the family, he spoke the language as he was used hearing it since childhood.

    The reason the Duke and Duchess were exiled from England was the Duke's ongoing popularity with the British. He was desperate to work in Britain as lowly Duke but Queen Elizabeth was terrified of his popularity and that a "King's Party" would re establish Edward and all her plotting to become Queen would end in ruin. Elizabeth having been spurned by the Prince of Wales and finally accepted the Duke of York, after three proposals. After the Abdication in which she played a major role , she would never give up the only position she always wanted, Queen Elizabeth.

    The rest of the family continued to meet and write to the Duke and Duchess, his sister Princess Mary refused to attend Princess Elizabeth's wedding and the Coronation because her brother had not been invited.

    Having finally attained the position she desired Queen Elizabeth showed none of her much publicised christianity, toward her husband's brother and this wife.

  2. The comment of "society's darlings" is ridiculous as all members of the Royal family are lionised and adored by the public.

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