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  #1761  
Old 12-09-2017, 07:01 PM
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Duke and Duchess of Windsor (1894-1972) and (1895-1986)

Iím not sure what you mean. Thereís no evidence to suggest that Wallis ever returned fire with such fervour as the QM sent her way. For one thing she never had the chance.

And we can hardly assess the relationship between the QM and Wallis without considering what kind of woman the QM was. Or Wallis for that matter.
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  #1762  
Old 12-09-2017, 08:23 PM
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I agree with you in that I donít think the QM ever seriously thought much romantically about David but Wallis certainly intimidated her. Almost every other woman intimidated her. She didnít like Marina, she was frosty towards Alice, she practically struck Princess Mary off every guest list. The only people she seemed to like were those who never answered back and let her have her own way. Which wasnít in Wallisí character.
Interesting insight.

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Wallis had her flaws but so did the Queen Mother. And Iím sorry but I canít buy into that 1950s sentimental nonsense that the abdication killed George VI and it was all Wallisí fault. She told David to stay, she left the country and tried to cut all ties, why should she take the blame for his persistence?
You touch upon what puzzles me: why Wallis is the focus of so much blame?

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Ultimately she lost far more than anyone else.
Totally agree with you on this. Her life as she knew it and expected to continue living it was shattered, and without her permission.

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We do see things differently today. Weíre more accepting and tolerant. And nobody can rewrite history of course. But we can absolutely see past the Baldwin propaganda of a chocolate box lid. The Queen Mother was no angel. She wasnít the only victim in the situation as much as she liked to pretend she was. And her 40 year campaign against the Duchess of Windsor was quite sad to be honest. Almost as sad as her constant digs against Marina or Alice, certainly as bitter as her treatment of her youngest daughter and without doubt just as damaging as her interfering in the marriage of her grandchildren.
Inexplicable to me unless one factors in other motives. JMO.

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Iím not sure what you mean. Thereís no evidence to suggest that Wallis ever returned fire with such fervour as the QM sent her way. For one thing she never had the chance.

And we can hardly assess the relationship between the QM and Wallis without considering what kind of woman the QM was. Or Wallis for that matter.
Exactly so. Thank you for being willing to flesh out the dynamics.
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  #1763  
Old 12-09-2017, 08:34 PM
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It never ceases to annoy me when people try the "rehabilitate" a historical figure. They invariably allow the social mores of current society to "assess and judge" a situation.

Just observe those who seem determined to find the reason the QM loathed Wallis. Yes, she blamed them for the added stress on her husband and even though we all know now that smoking causes cancer, they most certainly did not then. In fact, soldiers rations included cigarettes!

However, we do know that many people smoked to ease stress and Bertie's stress levels escalated with his brother's dereliction of duty. He was pushed into a life he was totally unprepared for, filled with public duties and speeches, a lifestyle he had avoided as much as he "properly" could instead of enjoying a family lifestyle with his "we four".

The abdication changed everything and the QM mourned the loss of that loving and secure life, with every move her husband made scrutinised because there were those who thought he was mentally unfit, as were all people who stammered. There were even those in the government and civil service who explored the possibility of declaring Bertie unfit and crowning his younger brother.

Bertie was not the only one whose life was badly affected. Prince Henry, Duke of Glouster was a career military man and his career hit the ultimate speed bump. He could not leave the country when the king did and needed to be protected to ensure that should something happen to the King before Princess Elizabeth turned eighteen, he would be able to stand as Regent until she reached her majority.

Prince George also had to clean up is act as his lifestyle would have shocked the people of the UK, with lovers of both sexes and cocaine addiction. He too had to raise his profile once the war was certain because nobody could know who would live and die and one of the three brothers had to survive for the monarchy.

To say that Bertie's younger brothers were unimpressed by the way their bother's dereliction of duty affected their lives is an understatement. The entire house of Windsor was in turmoil and if the sentiment was "but for Wallis", it was only to be expected. King George V's two youngest sons led a pretty happy life which also came to a screeching halt with the Abdication.

The King was the king and his Queen came to represent the house of Windsor's anger and disgust at David's betrayal, because that is what it was, a betrayal of everything they stood for.

No, I don't think the QM's teenage crush on the POW lasted past her social debut. He was the dashing hero of the age and WWI and the crush of half the teenage girls in the country. Meeting him as a grown woman and hearing about his debauchery probably didn't endear him to a well brought up aristocrat. Wallis pillorying her, her family and lifestyle would not have endeared her to either Elizabeth or Queen Mary, actions that would come back to haunt her.
Edward VIII's betrayal and dereliction was due to him not being able to marry the woman of his choice. I think that the guy was mentally warped and of dubious character but I don't judge him harshly for making the decision to give up the throne if he couldn't marry the woman he wanted to.
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  #1764  
Old 12-09-2017, 08:51 PM
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It's only my opinion I'm presenting of course but here's how I see it.

Without straying too far off topic (I use this only as an example), when I was at school we were still being taught about Kings & Queens to a kind of whig history model. Queen Mary I was an evil blood thirsty tyrant who persecuted anybody who wasn't a Roman Catholic and then the glorious Virgin Queen swept in and saved us all from the dark days of an intolerant divided England and made us great. Except....she didn't. Queen Mary never dragged us back to Rome kicking and screaming in the flames, Elizabeth I's policies were far more divisive than those of her elder sister and if we look at head count alone, more English people died under Elizabeth and her successors than ever were put to death under Mary. Yet today, schools still teach their pupils about Bloody Mary and Gloriana. Monarchy is 90% myth and the reason it survives is because of it's great mystery.

But as time goes on and more sources become available, we the people have a chance to see what they, the Sovereigns, knew to be true at the time. Elizabeth I wanted to be regarded as the very first great English Queen. Mary's legacy was bastardised and perverted to suit her agenda. We have lapped it up because it sounds good. There's a romanticism to it, there's a patriotism to it. But most of it wasn't actually true. So it is with this case. There are facts which do not change but the things Wallis knew and the things the Queen Mother knew are now (mostly) open to us all to examine. We know what sort of a person Wallis was based on documents that our ancestors wouldn't have seen in 1936. We also know what sort of a person the Queen Mother was based on documents that our own generation didn't see until just a few years ago.

The abdication was the biggest constitutional crisis since the English Civil War. Especially considering that just three years later, we went to war again. But what concerns me is that we're all too keen to buy into another version of whig history. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were Gloriana, Wallis and David bloody and wicked. And that simply isn't true. There were no saints, no devils. Only real people in extraordinary situations. Might it not be time to look at the entire picture and to accept that the Queen Mother had her shortcomings just as much as Wallis did?

Wallis is everything a modern woman is expected to be. She was confident, she was outspoken, she took an interest in politics and other matters which had previously been the domain of smokey dining rooms once the ladies had departed. She saw herself as being equal to her husband, not subservient. She was determined to be more than just a decoration. Did she succeed? Sadly I don't think she did. Was she in any way remarkable other than her marriage to the Duke? No, I don't think she achieved very much. But she certainly wasn't the woman whig history would have us believe. It served the establishment well to cast her in the role of a loose woman with ideas above her station, who sank her claws into a King and drove an innocent man to his death because of the sheer stress of it all.

Again, none of that is true. Wallis had been married twice. Her first marriage was a disaster because her husband was a drunk, an abusive bully. Her second marriage ended because she fell for someone else and Ernest wasn't exactly the most loyal of husbands either. Her third marriage tore a family apart and threatened the stability of an institution unrivalled in the world but how much of that can really be her fault? She begged David not to abdicate but by that time, more factors came into play. The government wanted him gone on any pretext. Wallis was just a convenient excuse. As Lady Mosley said, "Her greatest achievement was to keep him happy for all those years even when she wasn't particularly happy herself". Wallis died a lonely little old lady surrounded by strangers. The Queen Mother was cast in the role of a great Queen and a loyal and devoted consort from 1952 and kept that myth going until she was buried with great pomp and circumstance beloved by millions of people. Whig history served the Queen Mother well but I see no reason to continue to accept it as the official account of events. None of us were there, we have to bear in mind historical context - but Wallis, the evil Queen? I don't buy it.
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  #1765  
Old 12-09-2017, 08:54 PM
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It never ceases to annoy me when people try the "rehabilitate" a historical figure. They invariably allow the social mores of current society to "assess and judge" a situation.
I don't see a 'rehabilitation' taking place, rather we have more historical information about Wallis. We have her letters, we have memoirs, etc. All these go to shed more light, not 'rehabilitate'. It almost starts to look like anything remotely showing understanding (even compassion) towards Wallis is a 'slap'. Why?

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Just observe those who seem determined to find the reason the QM loathed Wallis. Yes, she blamed them for the added stress on her husband and even though we all know now that smoking causes cancer, they most certainly did not then. In fact, soldiers rations included cigarettes!
Personally, I find 'loathing' someone to be an extreme reaction. There needs to be substantial reasons for 'loathing'. Personal reasons. You give the 'politically correct', long stated reason for the 'loathing' (connected to the husband). I don't think that reason explains 'loathing'. JMO.

Anyway, that's what historians do: look with 'new eyes' on long past individuals and events to see what insights hindsight gives. Why not? History is a fable convenu anyway. The stories we tell ourselves have their own societal purposes. My ears perk up whenever I hear a tale of a 'scarlet woman'. Consider that David likely had far more sexual experience than Wallis, yet it is Wallis who gets branded as the libertine, never David. Why is that?
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  #1766  
Old 12-09-2017, 09:12 PM
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It's only my opinion I'm presenting of course but here's how I see it.

Without straying too far off topic (I use this only as an example), when I was at school we were still being taught about Kings & Queens to a kind of whig history model. Queen Mary I was an evil blood thirsty tyrant who persecuted anybody who wasn't a Roman Catholic and then the glorious Virgin Queen swept in and saved us all from the dark days of an intolerant divided England and made us great. Except....she didn't. Queen Mary never dragged us back to Rome kicking and screaming in the flames, Elizabeth I's policies were far more divisive than those of her elder sister and if we look at head count alone, more English people died under Elizabeth and her successors than ever were put to death under Mary. Yet today, schools still teach their pupils about Bloody Mary and Gloriana. Monarchy is 90% myth and the reason it survives is because of it's great mystery.
Well said, and pertinent!

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But as time goes on and more sources become available, we the people have a chance to see what they, the Sovereigns, knew to be true at the time. Elizabeth I wanted to be regarded as the very first great English Queen. Mary's legacy was bastardised and perverted to suit her agenda. We have lapped it up because it sounds good. There's a romanticism to it, there's a patriotism to it. But most of it wasn't actually true. So it is with this case. There are facts which do not change but the things Wallis knew and the things the Queen Mother knew are now (mostly) open to us all to examine. We know what sort of a person Wallis was based on documents that our ancestors wouldn't have seen in 1936. We also know what sort of a person the Queen Mother was based on documents that our own generation didn't see until just a few years ago.
The nut and kernel of this discussion methinks. We have more information.

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The abdication was the biggest constitutional crisis since the English Civil War. Especially considering that just three years later, we went to war again. But what concerns me is that we're all too keen to buy into another version of whig history. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were Gloriana, Wallis and David bloody and wicked. And that simply isn't true. There were no saints, no devils. Only real people in extraordinary situations. Might it not be time to look at the entire picture and to accept that the Queen Mother had her shortcomings just as much as Wallis did?
What is puzzling is to even approach a sympathetic rendering of Wallis' 'predicament' (and I see it that way) is seen by some as an assault against the Queen Mother, which must not be allowed to stand.

BTW this conversation may have different content but it's dynamics are very familiar. Anyone actively engaged in the current political debate will recognize the dynamic.

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Wallis is everything a modern woman is expected to be. She was confident, she was outspoken, she took an interest in politics and other matters which had previously been the domain of smokey dining rooms once the ladies had departed. She saw herself as being equal to her husband, not subservient. She was determined to be more than just a decoration. Did she succeed? Sadly I don't think she did. Was she in any way remarkable other than her marriage to the Duke? No, I don't think she achieved very much. But she certainly wasn't the woman whig history would have us believe. It served the establishment well to cast her in the role of a loose woman with ideas above her station, who sank her claws into a King and drove an innocent man to his death because of the sheer stress of it all.Again, none of that is true.
I may not agree with your conclusion on Wallis' life, but definitely agree regarding all the bolded. Well said.

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Wallis had been married twice. Her first marriage was a disaster because her husband was a drunk, an abusive bully. Her second marriage ended because she fell for someone else and Ernest wasn't exactly the most loyal of husbands either. Her third marriage tore a family apart and threatened the stability of an institution unrivalled in the world but how much of that can really be her fault? She begged David not to abdicate but by that time, more factors came into play. The government wanted him gone on any pretext. Wallis was just a convenient excuse.
Sadder words.

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As Lady Mosley said, "Her greatest achievement was to keep him happy for all those years even when she wasn't particularly happy herself". Wallis died a lonely little old lady surrounded by strangers. The Queen Mother was cast in the role of a great Queen and a loyal and devoted consort from 1952 and kept that myth going until she was buried with great pomp and circumstance beloved by millions of people. Whig history served the Queen Mother well but I see no reason to continue to accept it as the official account of events. None of us were there, we have to bear in mind historical context - but Wallis, the evil Queen? I don't buy it.
Such a sad, sad story. She did not deserve the way her end came about.
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  #1767  
Old 12-09-2017, 09:36 PM
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Elizabeth and Wallis. Bette and Joan. Catherine and Meghan? The press have a thing about two strong women who might be competition with each other and it tends to get embroidered over time until we forget who they really were and just end up with catty bitchy myth.
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What is puzzling is to even approach a sympathetic rendering of Wallis' 'predicament' (and I see it that way) is seen by some as an assault against the Queen Mother, which must not be allowed to stand.
It's a natural reaction. For so long, we've been told to loathe Wallis and to feel absolutely awed by the Queen Mother because it forces us to pick a side and to like one or dislike the other. The QM was fantastic when it came to crafting a public image and she really did cement a reputation so sickly that her true nature can sometimes shock and make people feel uncomfortable.

But there is much I like in Wallis and much I like in the Queen Mother and vice versa. We no longer live in a world of absolutes, as much as many would like us to. Wallis undoubtedly made mistakes. Her affair with Ribbentrop. Her naivetť when she thought she had David under control and could call off the relationship at any time. Her belief that she could ever give him a life that rivalled what he'd once known. But she also achieved. Not in the ways a modern women with her outlook and opportunities might, but for her time she did something quite remarkable. She supported her husband and made him happy, not an easy task given his nature. She accepted what people thought of her and lived with it. She knew she was cast in the role of a scarlet woman, and set herself a higher standard to prove that she was dignified, elegant and worthy of her rank as a Duchess. Were the Duchess of Windsor alive today....well. There's a debate for another time perhaps.

But the same is true of the Queen Mother. She crippled her family in a way that had consequences for the monarchy that far outstripped the scandal of the abdication. She drove her youngest daughter to drink and despair, she divided father and son and she became a metaphor for excess and for delusions of grandeur at a time when most Britons couldn't afford to heat their homes. And yet....she supported her husband in a way very few could. She became a beacon of hope and of courage during the Second World War. She became an icon, someone who represented the very best of the best generation of Britain. And she gave us a Queen who today shares that same unconditional love given to the Queen Mother 50 years ago by the people. Quite remarkable.

After the Duke died, the QM began sending Wallis bouquets for her birthday with notes that read "In Friendship". Whether she meant it or not, now both women have gone on to their eternal reward, I like to think that they'd welcome a little truth and that the old pantomime of Wallis the Villain and Betty Bowes-Lyon the Angel could be reviewed a little.
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  #1768  
Old 12-09-2017, 09:45 PM
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Brilliant summation, Gaudete. Clear and balanced. Thank you.
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  #1769  
Old 12-09-2017, 09:51 PM
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Now seems as a good a time as any to share this, though it may have been shared before (in which case I apologise!). I've heard the audio many times but never seen the video.

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  #1770  
Old 12-09-2017, 11:59 PM
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Let's not forget that Wallis was the convenient excuse given by the government of the day to get rid of a totally unsatisfactory King. If she hadn't come along they would have removed him anyway as he was not up to the job in many ways. Remember that from April onwards in 1936 they had stopped sending him the most sensitive documents as they couldn't trust him with the information and as the year wore on more and more even less sensitive documents were withheld due to his indiscretions. They had made the decision by the end of the summer that he had to go - the question then was 'how to get rid of him' and along came Wallis - a godsend.
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  #1771  
Old 12-10-2017, 02:59 AM
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I doubt if they would have gotten rid of him, but they would probably have felt it was best to sideline him more and more.. so that the RF/King had even less input in the political process than they had had before. If he had continued to be indiscreet and careless with state papers, and wit the friends he had, perhaps they would seriously have considered pressuring for abdication. But I don't think it would be a decision they would reach without a very serious situation. Do you have any evidence that the PM was considering "how to get rid of him"?
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  #1772  
Old 12-10-2017, 04:18 AM
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There were multiple parties who plotted to force out Edward VIII, one of which was the Archbishop of Canterbury and the King's relationship with Wallis Simpson was paramount to why he felt the King had to go and go posthaste. There were concerns about Edward even before his father died, but what really kicked things into high gear was Wallis Simpson filing for divorce from Ernest Simpson. The Archbishop, who also had a problem with Edward's lack of chumminess with him and the Church, was beside himself at the prospect of crowning and anointing Edward, only to have Edward marry Wallis and and make her Queen.

There were other issues with Edward, and I agree with Denville that a more gradual approach would have been taken to address those issues in hopes that Edward could be sidelined or reformed. Perhaps Edward VIII would have been forced to abdicate, but IMO it would not have happened in 1936.
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  #1773  
Old 12-10-2017, 04:42 AM
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By the time Wallis became an issue the decision had been made by the government - he had to go - and they weren't necessarily talking abdication if necessary.

My grandmother's uncle was part of the government at the time and he wrote a number of letters to her over the following years making it perfectly clear that the decision was made around Easter time that he had to go. It was simply a matter of 'how' by then as he wasn't doing what the King was supposed to do - he wanted to meddle in politics and have a public say about policy. He didn't seem to understand that he was a figurehead and not an active member of the system.

When I was studying this issue at uni I asked my British family for any other documents they had relating to this period and they sent me some which again make it clear that by Easter the government decided he had to go. My uncle also left instructions in his will that ALL of his private papers, including any relating to his political life and service were to be destroyed - they were, even those I had which were copies along with the letters written to my mother and grandmother that even hinted at these matters but I remember them as I read and re-read them many times.

Wallis was the excuse but not the reason. To tell the public that the King was effectively colluding with the enemy, wittingly or unwittingly, would have been a far greater constitutional crisis than the abdication for 'the woman I love' which was also an excuse he could accept rather than being told 'you are basically a traitor and have to go' ... which is what Charles I was told.
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  #1774  
Old 12-10-2017, 05:18 AM
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its some time since I read anything about Edward VIII so there may be new information come iout, that I have missed. But its now about 80 years since it happened so even if there was a 50 year rule, I would have said that any paper saying that the Govt was trying to get rid of him, would have been released by now....Unless there is a 100 year rule on it.
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  #1775  
Old 12-10-2017, 05:22 AM
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There were multiple parties who plotted to force out Edward VIII, one of which was the Archbishop of Canterbury and the King's relationship with Wallis Simpson was paramount to why he felt the King had to go and go posthaste. There were concerns about Edward even before his father died, but what really kicked things into high gear was Wallis Simpson filing for divorce from Ernest Simpson. The Archbishop, who also had a problem with Edward's lack of chumminess with him and the Church, was beside himself at the thought of crowning and anointing Edward, only to have Edward marry Wallis and and make her Queen.

There were other issues with Edward, and I agree with Denville that a more gradual approach would have been taken to address those issues in hopes that Edward could be sidelined or reformed. Perhaps Edward VIII would have been forced to abdicate, but IMO it would not have happened in 1936.
Its true that some in the church were concerned that Edward wasn't a regular church goer.. but that in itself woudlnt' be a cause for wanting him out and I doubt if the Govt would care. I think that while the GOvt was nervous abuot him, they weren't at breaking point in 1936. Edward was stupid and careless rather than actively scheming in politics...
But yes IMO what set things off was the divorce of Wallis. Once it was likely that she was getting rid of her husband to be free for Edward, the Govt was afraid that the public would not tolerate a King married to a twice divorced woman who was American and didn't understand the British ways.
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  #1776  
Old 12-10-2017, 05:47 AM
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Interesting comparison. Perhaps they were too much alike! Ha!










I don't think there's any "Ha!" about it, Lady Nimue, other than that you've hit the nail on the head!! I've long seen a similarity in the characters two women -which stands to reason given the characters of the brothers they married. Both men needed a strong woman -in the mould of their Mother, Queen Mary- and I suspect both men say elements of their mother's character in the women they married. I imagine, though that Wallis was more dominatrix than domestic godess -which suited David's needs- whereas Elizabeth was more nuturing earth mother -perhaps the mother Bertie wished he'd had. Having experienced a cold, remote and seemingly powerful mother, I don't believe either man could have functioned with a wife who deferred to them. I believe QM had created -in her sons- men who needed to be guided by their wives. BOTH men chose women who entirely suited their needs albeit, in very different ways.
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  #1777  
Old 12-10-2017, 05:49 AM
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I Cant see any resemblance.
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  #1778  
Old 12-10-2017, 05:56 AM
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History rightfully gets re-written when new information becomes available due to silences being broken, documents becoming available, etc.

There is information out there that Edward was sloppy and indiscreet when it came to government papers and briefings, and also that he was chummy with Nazis, but it does not seem that the concurrent reaction to these offenses was as strong as the reaction to his carrying on with "that woman".

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By the time Wallis became an issue the decision had been made by the government - he had to go - and they weren't necessarily talking abdication if necessary.
What does that mean?
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  #1779  
Old 12-10-2017, 07:00 AM
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[QUOTE=Iluvbertie;2049218]By the time Wallis became an issue the decision had been made by the government - he had to go - and they weren't necessarily talking abdication if necessary.

My grandmother's uncle was part of the government at the time and he wrote a number of letters to her over the following years making it perfectly clear that the decision was made around Easter time that he had to go. It was simply a matter of 'how' by then as he wasn't doing what the King was supposed to do - he wanted to meddle in politics and have a public say about policy. He didn't seem to understand that he was a figurehead and not an active member of the system.

When I was studying this issue at uni I asked my British family for any other documents they had relating to this period and they sent me some which again make it clear that by Easter the government decided he had to go. My uncle also left instructions in his will that ALL of his private papers, including any relating to his political life and service were to be destroyed - they were, even those I had which were copies along with the letters written to my mother and grandmother that even hinted at these matters but I remember them as I read and re-read them many times.

Wallis was the excuse but not the reason. To tell the public that the King was effectively colluding with the enemy, wittingly or unwittingly, would have been a far greater constitutional crisis than the abdication for 'the woman I love' which was also an excuse he could accept rather than being told 'you are basically a traitor and have to go' ... which is what Charles I was told.

Could you explain this to me as I am learning about this time period in the BRF History? I have seen pictures of Edward with Hitler and do not want to jump to conclusions yet there are lots of questions I have about this. Thank you...
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  #1780  
Old 12-10-2017, 11:39 AM
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He did not meet Hitler until after his abdication.
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abdication, britain, duchess of windsor, duke of windsor, edward viii, king edward viii, wallis simpson


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