7x50min episodes. While still the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VIII meets the married American socialite, Wallis Simpson. Their relationship causes furor in the palace and in ... See full summary »
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Peggy Ann Wood
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7x50min episodes. While still the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VIII meets the married American socialite, Wallis Simpson. Their relationship causes furor in the palace and in parliament, especially when King George V dies, Mrs. Simpson gets divorced, and King Edward announces his intentions to marry her. Written by
Baldwin's Crowning Achievement - Which We Should Thank Him For
There was a time that the abdication of King Edward VIII in December 1936 was considered one of the most romantic and beautiful gestures of modern times. After all, the ruler of the greatest empire in modern time gave it away willingly because he could not rule comfortably without the love and assistance of the woman he loved. It certainly is a beautiful gesture.
But the truth was uglier. Frances Donaldson wrote the biography that was the basis of this series, and showed that the good natured Prince of Wales was a lightweight in terms of understanding the key to modern British monarchy - public service comes first. As titular head of the Church of England, Edward had a moral obligation of setting a good example. It was accepted that he (like his grandfather Edward VII) could have a girl friend who might have a current husband, or could not legally marry the ruler. Edward VII understood this. He and Alice Keppel had a close, long standing affair (as he had prior to her with Daisy, Countess of Warwick, Lily Langtry, and others). But he always returned to his wife Alexandra. Edward could not understand this, and instead of keeping the twice divorced Wallis Warfield Simpson as his girlfriend, he decided to marry her. Seventy years later one might see this done - Edward's grandnephew Charles has just married his long time girlfriend Camilla Parker-Bowes. But Charles first wife Diane has been dead seven years. Even now however, many people are disappointed by Charles behavior.
What Donaldson brought out was that Edward was too pro-German. He was willing to let bygones be bygones, but he went beyond that by attending meetings with German war veterans. Later he openly was friendly to Nazi leaders like Hitler and Goering. During World War II, although in the Bahamas, he attracted many Nazi supporters there, and he may have botched the investigation into the murder of Sir Harry Oakes because of Nazi involvement.
Enter the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin. He was usually involved in normal political matters, but the King's demands to wed Mrs. Simpson brought about a political crisis...one that Baldwin loathed. He was fully sick of the reason for this crisis and he did not like the young monarch, who seemed more attuned to taking long vacations than doing his job as monarch. Baldwin certainly distrusted Edward's liking for Germany and it's regime. So he stage managed (beautifully, by the way) the refusal of most of the leading portions of the Empire/Commonwealth of any marriage. Australia, Canada, both Irelands, India, South Africa all rejected the marriage for moral reasons (New Zealand actually supported the King). He managed to keep the story out of British papers (outside of Britain everyone was aware of it). Then the Archbishop of Canterbury learned of it, and all hell broke loose. Wallis urged her lover to forget the whole matter for the time. Edward refused, and gave away the throne. His brother George would turn out to be a better King, and one not in love with Germany.
Edward Fox and Cynthia Harris were very good as Edward and Wallis. David Waller, a British character actor - usually in comedies - played Baldwin as he should be played, as a cagey customer who by getting rid of the King helped the Allied cause immeasurably. Peggy Ashcroft as the Queen is excellent too. If they show it again you should catch it.
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