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Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 18:04 GMT
Edward VIII: Abdication timeline
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor in 1954
The couple were together until Edward's death in 1972
When Edward, then Prince of Wales, first met American divorcee Wallis Simpson, she did not make much of an impression on him.

But over the next few years he fell deeply in love with her, ultimately giving up the throne to marry her.

BBC News Online takes a look at some of the key events leading up to his abdication.

10 January 1931: Edward meets Wallis Simpson at a house party. Mrs Simpson is married to her second husband, Ernest, after divorcing her first husband Earl Winfield Spencer.

May 1931: Edward and Mrs Simpson meet for the second time

Key dates
Edward and Wallis
10 Jan 1931: Edward and Wallis first meet
20 Jan 1936: King George V dies. Edward becomes King
27 Oct 1936: Wallis Simpson granted decree nisi
10 Dec 1936: Edward VIII signs Instrument of Abdication
January 1932: Edward dines at the Simpsons' London flat, staying until 4am. At the end of the month, the Simpsons spend their first weekend at Edward's country retreat, Fort Belvedere in Berkshire.

August 1934: Edward takes a party, including Wallis Simpson, on holiday to Biarritz, followed by a cruise along the Spanish and Portuguese coasts. Ernest Simpson is notably absent for the first time.

November 1934: Wallis Simpson attends a party at Buckingham Palace in honour of the Duke of Kent. Edward introduces her to his mother, but the King, George V, is outraged and refuses to meet her.

20 January 1936: King George V dies and Edward succeeds him as King.

May 1936: Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin meets Wallis Simpson for the first time at a dinner hosted by the King, although Ernest Simpson was also there and Baldwin did not realise the significance of her presence.

July 1936: Ernest Simpson, who had been conducting an affair of his own, moves out of the couple's home to his club.

August 1936: Wallis Simpson joins the King and other guests for a cruise along the Yugoslav, Greek and Turkish coasts. Photographs of the King and Mrs Simpson together are widely published in the American and continental press, with much speculation about their relationship.


October 1936: Wallis Simpson installed in house rented for her by the King in Regent's Park

20 October 1936: Stanley Baldwin confronts King for the first time over his relationship with Mrs Simpson. He asks him to conduct the affair more discreetly and persuade her to put off her impending divorce proceedings against her husband, to no avail.

Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin played a key role in the abdication crisis
27 October 1936: The Simpsons' divorce case is heard at Ipswich Assizes and a decree nisi is granted.

16 November 1936: King sends for Baldwin. He tells him he wants to marry Mrs Simpson. Baldwin says that whoever the King married would have to become Queen, and the British public would not accept Mrs Simpson as such. The King says he is prepared to abdicate if the government opposes his marriage.

25 November 1936: King meets Baldwin again, telling him he wants a morganatic marriage to Wallis Simpson, in which he could still be King but she would not be Queen, merely his consort. This would require new legislation in both Britain and the Dominions, and although Baldwin tells the King this would not be accepted, the King authorises the prime minister to raise the proposal.


27 November 1936: Baldwin raises the issue of a morganatic marriage in the Cabinet, which rejects it outright. It is also then rejected by the governments of the Dominions.

2 December 1936: Baldwin tells the King none of his governments are willing to agree to a morganatic marriage, and that he now has three choices: to finish his relationship with Mrs Simpson, to marry against the advice of his ministers who would then resign, or to abdicate.

Duke and Duchess of Windsor on their wedding day
The couple married in France
3 December 1936: The story breaks in the British press, which is widely disapproving of the prospect of the couple's marriage. Wallis Simpson leaves for France, to escape the furore.

The King tells Baldwin he wants to broadcast an appeal to the nation, putting his problem to them. He hopes this might sway public opinion in favour of him marrying and remaining King. Baldwin says such a broadcast would be constitutionally impossible.

9 December 1936: King informs government of irrevocable decision to abdicate.

10 December 1936: King signs Instrument of Abdication, drawn up by his close friend and adviser Sir Walter Monckton. Baldwin announces the news to the Commons.

11 December 1936: Abdication endorsed by Parliament. King broadcasts his decision to the nation on the BBC.

12 December 1936: Edward's brother proclaimed King George VI. Edward, now Duke of Windsor, leaves England for Austria.

3 May 1937: Wallis Simpson's decree absolute comes through. She is now divorced and free to remarry.

12 May 1937: Coronation of King George VI

3 June 1937: Edward and Wallis Simpson marry in France. She becomes the Duchess of Windsor.

Key stories






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