Wallis had tried over and over again to remove herself from the situation, to keep the King on the throne, but in the end, the abdication was inevitable.
On 10 December 1936, at ten in the morning at Fort Belvedere, in the presence of his brothers, King Edward VIII signed six copies of the Act of Abdication. Edward later wrote, “As if in harmony with the lifting of the almost intolerable pressure of the last few weeks, the fog that had for some days added to the gloom had also lifted. Sitting at the desk, with my three brothers watching, I began to sign the documents.[..] The occasion moved me. Like a swimmer surfacing from a great depth, I left the room and stepped outside, inhaling the fresh morning air.”1 The act was to take effect at midnight and was given royal assent at 1.52 in the afternoon on 11 December.
The act read, “I, Edward the Eighth, of Great Britain, Ireland, and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Emperor of India, do hereby declare My irrevocable determination to renounce the Throne for Myself and for My descendants, and My desire that effect should be given to this Instrument of Abdication immediately.
In token whereof I have hereunto set My hand this tenth day of December, nineteen hundred and thirty-six, in the presence of the witnesses whose signatures are subscribed.
Signed at Fort Belvedere in the presence of
Later that afternoon, the Prime Minister made the announcement in the House of Commons. He carried with him a message from the King which said, “After long and anxious consideration, I have determined to renounce the Throne to which I succeeded on the death of my Father, and I am now communicating this my final and irrevocable decision. Realising as I do the gravity of this step, I can only hope that I shall have the understanding of my people in the decision I have taken and the reasons which had led me to take it. I will not enter now into my private feelings, but I would beg that it should be remembered that the burden which constantly rests upon the shoulders of a Sovereign is so heavy that it can only be borne in circumstances different from those in which I now find myself.[…] I take my leave of them in the confident hope that the course which I have thought it right to follow is that which is best for the stability of the Throne and Empire and the happiness of my peoples. I am deeply sensible of the consideration which they have always extended to me, both before and after my accession to the Throne, and which I know they will extend in full measure to my successor.”3
The Prime Minister then said, “No more grave message has ever been received by Parliament, and no more difficult, I may almost say repugnant, task has ever been imposed upon a Prime Minister.”4
There were also a lot of financial questions to be answered. Edward asked for a pension of £25,000 a year in return for surrendering his life interest in Sandringham and Balmoral. These had been left to Edward by his father, and George eventually paid for them. However, Edward also claimed his personal fortune was only £90,000, which was less than a tenth of the real amount. This lie would eventually poison the relationship between the two brothers even further. However, that night the brothers had dinner together amicably.
- The American Duchess by Anna Pasternak p.163-164
- His Majesty’s Declaration of Abdication Act 1936
- The Duchess of Windsor by Greg King p.235-236
- The Duchess of Windsor by Greg King p.236