The Prince, Prize Matrimonial

A 1922 New York Times Magazine article asked whether the 28-year-old Prince of Wales, who would later become King Edward VIII, would ever marry.

14 years later, he would abdicate the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcée, making him the shortest-serving monarch in British history.

Which makes this excerpt describing the then-28-year-old Edward, at the time first in the line of succession to his father King George V, particularly ironic:

Broadly, what the British peoples desire is not a marriage designed to promote political alliances in Europe, even if such were possible. All that web of royal intrigue was torn to shreds by the war. The best marriage would be the happiest marriage, and, given such happiness, little else would matter. To the Prince, then, the utmost possible liberty of choice will be encouraged, and the only misgiving among his admirers arises from a prolonged delay.

About that “utmost possible liberty of choice will be encouraged” part…

In 1930, Edward met Wallis Simpson, and wished to marry her only months into his 1936 reign as king. As the head of the Church of England, a position the British monarch continues to hold to this day, he was not supposed to marry a divorcée if their former spouse was still alive.

(Presumably Prince Harry was okay to marry the divorced Meghan Markle because he wasn’t actually the reigning monarch, and thus not the actual head of the Church of England? In fact, he’s only sixth in the current line of succession.)

So Edward resigned, which made his younger brother George VI the king. That produced the British royal family we now today: Queen Elizabeth II is George VI’s daughter.

As for Edward and Simpson, they remained married until his death in 1972.

The Prince, Prize Matrimonial

Published: Sunday, September 3, 1922

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