King Edward VIII: An American Life

Written by Ted Powell
Review by India Edghill

The affair was the scandal and the wedding of the century – and the toll it took on the royal family of England is felt to this day. In 1936, King Edward VIII chose love over duty, and married the twice-divorced American, Wallis Warfield Simpson. For love of Wallis, Edward became the only British monarch to willingly abdicate the throne.

The author zeros in on Edward’s passionate interest in America. Every visit of Edward’s to America and Canada is analyzed in almost overwhelming detail. The author concludes Edward’s passion for America led almost inevitably with him falling in love with the American Wallis. When it became obvious that the British people and the royal family would never accept Wallis as queen, and despite Wallis’s desperate efforts to dissuade him, on December 11, 1936, Edward VIII abdicated. He addressed the nation on radio, telling his subjects he couldn’t continue as king without the “help and support of the woman I love.” On June 3, 1937, Edward and Wallis married in France. Not one member of his family attended the wedding.

While it’s clearly well researched, the average reader may find the book slow going. Anyone looking for salacious tales about a fairy-tale royal romance will be disappointed. However, for Windsor aficionados like me, the book’s mind-bogglingly detailed day-to-day description of tours that bored their participants at the time and have grown no more fascinating with the passage of decades, is required reading.