I wonder whether Edward VIII was forced to abdicate due to his pro-Nazi views or his romance with Wallis Simpson?

I know that some politicians urged him to abdicate but was there something more substantial than that?

I know that after abdication Churchill even treated to open a court-martial against him but was there anything similar before the abdication?

Are there any mechanisms in British monarchy that can force a king to abdicate?

  • 1
    Are you sure about Churchill? He was actually one the very few establishment figures who were for the king in this affair. Or maybe the court-martial thing was an expression of Churchill's frustration with the king who chose not to "fight" and stepped down? The feeling might have been in character - but Churchill speaking so against a King of England, even the one who abdicated? Churchill? Something is wrong here - do you have a source for this? Dec 22, 2012 at 11:05
  • But good question overall. +1 Dec 22, 2012 at 11:27
  • @Felix Goldberg so says Wikipedia with reference to Bloch.
    – Anixx
    Dec 22, 2012 at 13:32
  • I see, you are referring to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Willi. Interesting story, didn't know about it. But it's not quite relevant to the abdication. Maybe it'd be better to edit out the court-martial part? Dec 22, 2012 at 15:41
  • This question demonstrates no research, provides no sources, and asserts controversial theories that run contrary to accepted history, plus it invokes Godwin's law. Please improve this question by providing evidence to back up the claims.
    – MCW
    Oct 23, 2013 at 11:04

2 Answers 2


No he wasn't.

He abdicated of his own free will choosing Wallis Simpson over the throne.

He abdicated because as a British Monarch he was the nominal head of the Church of England that did not allow divorcees to remarry. The Church strongly disapproved of Edward's intention to marry a divorcee in Wallis Simpson.

He was also viewed as a bit of playboy and held fairly naive views on Hitler's Germany which also didn't sit well with the English government. This doesn't mean they forced him to abdicate, but given they didn't view him as a particularly strong minded potential Monarch, they didn't help him either.

In 1936, a constitutional crisis in the British Empire was caused by King-Emperor Edward VIII's proposal to marry Wallis Simpson, an American socialite who was divorced from her first husband and was pursuing a divorce of her second. The marriage was opposed by the governments of the United Kingdom and the autonomous Dominions of the British Commonwealth. Religious, legal, political, and moral objections were raised. As British monarch, Edward was the nominal head of the Church of England, which did not allow divorced people to remarry if their ex-spouses were still alive; so it was widely believed that Edward could not marry Wallis Simpson and remain on the throne. Simpson was perceived to be politically and socially unsuitable as a consort because of her two failed marriages. It was widely assumed by the Establishment that she was driven by love of money or position rather than love for the King. Despite the opposition, Edward declared that he loved Simpson and intended to marry her whether his governments approved or not.

The widespread unwillingness to accept Simpson as the King's consort, and Edward's refusal to give her up, led to his abdication in December 1936. He remains the only British monarch to have voluntarily renounced the throne since the Anglo-Saxon period.


  • I have already read Wikipedia. I think there is no reason to point me there. This is why I am asking it here. "it was widely believed that Edward could not marry Wallis Simpson and remain on the throne" - so what would happen with him if he married but did not abdicate? That is the question. -1.
    – Anixx
    Dec 22, 2012 at 16:49
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    You asked if Edward was forced to abdicate - the answer is No. He abdicated because he chose to marry Wallis Simpson as per answer. If you meant something else, ask something else, people can't mind-read what question you meant to ask. He could not ascend to the throne and marry Wallis Simpson, the government wouldn't let him, so that question has been answered as well if you actually bothered to read the Wiki article. Dec 22, 2012 at 19:14
  • how exactly the government was able not to let him?
    – Anixx
    Oct 25, 2013 at 7:24

There seems to be an avoidance of the question here. Britain does not have a written constitution, unlike the Netherlands where the monarch reigns by the will of the people. Suppose Edward decided not to abdicate. What law is there that would force him to do so? He was very popular in the country and monarchy still had a powerful mystique in the 1930s. I cannot imagine parliament sending the police around to Buckingham Palace to arrest him. If parliament had to back down what would have happened? There is an inherent danger in the British monarchical system which is not addressed. We simply rely on the common sense of the monarch to do the right thing. This should not be acceptable in a modern democracy

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    Interesting point. But this should be converted into a comment, not an answer. Oct 22, 2013 at 9:52
  • This dangerous system has worked rather well since 1688, whereas all European monarchies extant at that time have been overthrown at one time or another (ifirc). So maybe there is something to be said for good old common sense as opposed to a written constitution, however well-written... Oct 22, 2013 at 9:59
  • This is a political commentary, not an answer to the question. The answer provide no citations, references or verifiable facts. This is argumentative rather than eductional.
    – MCW
    Oct 22, 2013 at 11:27
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    @MarkC.Wallace Mind you, he didn't have the rep required for a comment. So a suitably empowered mod should migrate it. Oct 22, 2013 at 13:02

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