“At long last…”

edward windsor
Keystone Press / Alamy Stock Photo

On the evening of 11 December, there was one final family dinner at Royal Lodge. The guests were Edward’s mother Queen Mary, his sister the Princess Royal, his three brothers, Queen Mary’s brother the Earl of Athlone and his wife Princess Alice. The Earl of Athlone later recalled, “It might have been quite a gloomy occasion. I take my hat off to the butler! Pretty flowers and china and all that – the table beautifully set out: beautifully done. Made it quite cheerful.”1

At 9.30 that night, Edward left Royal Lodge and headed to Windsor Castle from where he was meant to make his radio broadcast. There had reportedly been one version of the speech that began with the words, “I am now free to tell you how I was jockeyed out of the Throne.” However, Winston Churchill had made Edward throw it into the fire and it was Churchill who wrote the final abdication broadcast.2 Wallis perhaps would have preferred Edward’s version of the broadcast as she had written to him on 6 December, “Don’t be silenced and leave under a cloud I beseech you and in abdication no matter in what form unless you can let the public know that the Cabinet has virtually kicked you out…”3

At ten, Edward was introduced with the words, “This is Windsor Castle. His Royal Highness, Prince Edward.” Edward then began his broadcast, ” At long last I am able to say a few words of my own. I have never wanted to withhold anything, but until now it has not been constitutionally possible for me to speak.

A few hours ago I discharged my last duty as King and Emperor, and now that I have been succeeded by my brother, The Duke of York, my first words must be to declare my allegiance to him. This I do with all my heart. You all know the reasons which have impelled me to renounce the Throne. But I want you to understand that in making up my mind I did not forget the country or the Empire which as Prince of Wales, and lately as King, I have for twenty-five years tried to serve. But you must believe me when I tell you that 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.

And I want you to know that the decision I have made has been mine and mine alone. This was a thing I had to judge entirely for myself. The other person most nearly concerned has tried up to the last to persuade me to take a different course. I have made this, the most serious decision of my life, only upon the single thought of what would in the end be best for all. This decision has been made less difficult to me by the sure knowledge that my brother, with his long training in the public affairs of this country and with his fine qualities, will be able to take my place forthwith, without interruption or
injury to the life and progress of the Empire. And he has one matchless blessing, enjoyed by so many of you and not bestowed on me – a happy home with his wife and children.

During these hard days I have been comforted by Her Majesty my mother and by my family. The Ministers of the Crown, and in particular Mr Baldwin, the Prime Minister, have always treated me with full consideration. There has never been any constitutional difference between me and them and between me and Parliament. Bred in the constitutional tradition by my father, I should never have allowed any such issue to arise.

Ever since I was Prince of Wales, and later on when I occupied the Throne, I have been treated with the greatest kindness by all classes of the people, wherever I have lived or journeyed throughout the Empire. For that I am very grateful. I now quit altogether public affairs, and I lay down my burden. It may be some time before I return to my native land, but I shall always follow the fortunes of the British race and Empire with profound interest, and if at any time in the future I can be found of service to His Majesty in a private station I shall not fail.

And now we all have a new King. I wish him, and you, his people, happiness and prosperity with all my heart. God bless you all. God Save The King.”4

As Edward spoke, Wallis listened in Cannes, sobbed openly and eventually curled up on the sofa. She wrote in her memoirs, “I was lying on the sofa with my hands over my eyes, trying to hide my tears. After he finished, the others quietly went away and left me alone. I lay there for a long time before I could control myself enough to walk through the house and go upstairs to my room.”5

After making the broadcast, Edward returned to Royal Lodge to say goodbye. His sister was in tears, but Queen Mary “was magnificently brave throughout and took leave of the King cheerfully.”6 The new King recalled, “When D & I said goodbye, we kissed, parted as freemasons & he bowed to me as his King.”7 Edward then returned to the Fort where the last of his personal belongings were being packed. Around midnight, he left the Fort for a final time and the car disappeared into the heavy rain.

It has been decided that he would go to Austria to wait out Wallis’ decree absolute. They would not be reunited until 4 May the following year. During those six months, Edward lived at Schloss Enzesfeld and he and Wallis telephoned every day, which led to a telephone bill of £800 after just three months.


Our book The Duchess of Windsor – A Collection of Articles is available now in the US and the UK.

  1. George VI by Sarah Bradford p.267
  2. George VI by Sarah Bradford p.267
  3. George VI by Sarah Bradford p.267
  4. The Duchess of Windsor by Greg King p.239-240
  5. The heart has its reasons by the Duchess of Windsor p.302
  6. George VI by Sarah Bradford p.269
  7. George VI by Sarah Bradford p.269

About Moniek Bloks 2697 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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