The Duchess of Windsor – The King declares he is “prepared to go”

edward windsor
Keystone Press / Alamy Stock Photo

“In the weeks before the abdication I was willing to do anything – anything – to prevent his going. I lied to our friends, I lied to the King – all in the hope that someone would put a stop to it.” – The Duchess of Windsor1

By November 1936, the intentions of King Edward VIII were clear – he was going to marry Wallis. It was also equally clear that it would not be acceptable. The Australian High Commission wrote to Prime Minister Baldwin, “I think you have to advise the King… that the people of this country and of the Dominions would not accept this woman as Queen… and that because of the perils both to the Throne and the Empire the King’s conduct has created, there would be a demand for his abdication that you would find impossible to resist… You would have to tell him that unless he was prepared to abandon any idea of marriage… you would be compelled to advise him to abdicate, and unless he accepted such advice, you would be unable to continue as his adviser and would tender the resignation of the Government.”2

Even the King’s own private secretary, Alec Hardinge, could not be quiet anymore, and he wrote a letter that he intended to send to the King, informing him that the relationship with Wallis would lead to a confrontation with the government. The King read Hardinge’s letter and felt utterly betrayed. He did not show the letter to Wallis until a few days later, and she now became convinced that the crisis she had been fearing was coming. The letter urged her to go abroad, but Wallis said, “They do not understand that if I did so, the King would come after me regardless of anything. They would then get their scandal in a far worse form than they are getting it now.3 She told her friend Sybil that she “wanted to leave him and clear out, but the King threatened to quit, to follow her, even to commit suicide.”4 She later also told author Gore Vidal, “I never wanted to get married. This was all his idea. They act as if I were some sort of idiot, not knowing the rules about who can be Queen and who can’t. But he insisted.”5

Nevertheless, Wallis begged the King to let her go abroad. He took her hand and said, “I’m going to send for Mr Baldwin to see me at the Palace tomorrow. I’m going to tell him that if the country won’t approve our marrying, I’m ready to go.”6 Wallis was shocked and burst into tears. Technically, the King was free to marry whomever he wanted. However, it would be unconstitutional for the King to marry against the advice of his ministers.

On the evening of 16 November 1936, the King met with the Prime Minister at Buckingham Palace. He told Mr Baldwin, “I understand that you and several members of the Cabinet have some fear of a constitutional crisis developing over my friendship with Mrs Simpson.”7 Mr Baldwin confirmed this and told him that a marriage with Wallis would not receive his support. The silence that the press had kept on the matter was also unlikely to last much longer. Mr Baldwin later recalled, “That marriage would have involved the lady becoming Queen. I did tell His Majesty that I might be a remnant of the old Victorians but that my worst enemy would not say of me that I did not know what the reaction of the English people would be to any particular course of action… I pointed out to him that the position of the King’s wife was different from the position of the wife of any other citizen of the country. His wife becomes Queen; the Queen becomes the Queen of the country; and therefore, in the choice of a Queen, the voice of the people must be heard.”8 Most ironically, the Prime Minister suggested that it was perfectly acceptable if Wallis remained on as his mistress.

The King then told his Prime Minister, “I am going to marry Mrs Simpson, and I am prepared to go.”9 Mr Baldwin responded with, “Sir, that is most grievous news, and it is impossible for me to make any comment on it today.”10

The countdown to the abdication had begun.


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

  1. The Duchess of Windsor by Greg King p.191
  2. The Duchess of Windsor by Greg King p.190
  3. The Duchess of Windsor by Greg King p.190
  4. The Duchess of Windsor by Greg King p.191
  5. The Duchess of Windsor by Greg King p.168
  6. The Duchess of Windsor by Greg King p.192
  7. The Duchess of Windsor by Greg King p.195
  8. The Duchess of Windsor by Greg King p.195
  9. The Duchess of Windsor by Greg King p.195
  10. The Duchess of Windsor by Greg King p.195

About Moniek Bloks 2730 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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