As King Edward VIII was unmarried and had no children, Prince Albert, Duke of York, was the heir presumptive to the throne. Less than a year later, on December 11, 1936, Edward abdicated in order to marry Wallis Simpson who was divorced from her first husband and in the process of divorcing her second.
Edward VIII had been advised by British prime minister Stanley Baldwin that he could not remain king and marry a divorced woman with two living ex-husbands. He abdicated and Albert, though he had been reluctant to accept the throne, became king. The day before the abdication, Albert went to London to see his mother, Queen Mary. He wrote in his diary, “When I told her what had happened, I broke down and sobbed like a child.”
As mentioned yesterday the abdication document was signed on December 10, 1936 At Fort Belvedere. King Edward VIII signed his written abdication notices, witnessed by his three younger brothers: Prince Albert, Duke of York , Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester; and Prince George, Duke of Kent.
The abdication wasn’t officially legal until the following day, with the passing of an Act of Parliament: His Majesty’s Declaration of Abdication Act 193.
On the day of Edward VIII’s abdication, the Oireachtas, the parliament of the Irish Free State, removed all direct mention of the monarch from the Irish constitution. The next day, it passed the External Relations Act, which gave the monarch limited authority (strictly on the advice of the government) to appoint diplomatic representatives for Ireland and to be involved in the making of foreign treaties. The two acts made the Irish Free State a republic in essence without removing its links to the Commonwealth.
Across Britain, gossip spread that Albert was physically and psychologically incapable of handling the kingship. He worried about that himself. No evidence has been found to support the rumour that the government considered bypassing him in favour of his scandal-ridden younger brother, Prince George, Duke of Kent.
Albert assumed the regnal name “George VI” to emphasise continuity with his father and restore confidence in the monarchy. The beginning of George VI’s reign was taken up by questions surrounding his predecessor and brother, whose titles, style and position were uncertain. He had been introduced as “His Royal Highness Prince Edward” for the abdication broadcast, but George VI felt that by abdicating and renouncing the succession, Edward had lost the right to bear royal titles, including “Royal Highness”.
In settling the issue, George’s first act as king was to confer upon his brother the title “Duke of Windsor” with the style “Royal Highness”, but the letters patent creating the dukedom prevented any wife or children from bearing royal styles. George VI was forced to buy from Edward the royal residences of Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House, as these were private properties and did not pass to him automatically. Three days after his accession, on his 41st birthday, he invested his wife, the new queen consort, with the Order of the Garter.