When Prince Harry and his wife Meghan chose to break away from the Royal Family, many media commentators likened the event to the Abdication crisis of 1936, even though none of them (including yours truly) were alive 85 years ago. Both Meghan and Wallis Simpson were, of course, Americans, which seems to have been part of the problem in both cases.
The decision of King Edward VIII to renounce the throne in order to marry the woman he loved is now part of British folklore. This historic episode endures for three main reasons, I think: because it is an intriguing love story in itself; because many people think that, in a democratic age, even a King should be allowed to marry the woman of his choice; and because of a general feeling that we don’t know what really happened or trust the versions of the truth handed down to us.
The last point, I feel sure, is valid. Many of the Palace papers of the time are still wrapped in secrecy. Television had just been invented and few people had sets in their homes for another 15 years, so Edward (or David as he was known to his family and friends) could not appear on the Oprah Winfrey show or in any form of the contemporary media.
In those days the press had even less direct access to the Royals than they have now to tell their readers what their king and his paramour were really like. These thoughts are prompted by reading the recently published diaries of Henry “Chips” Channon, who was close to events, both as a friend of the King…