EXPLOSIVE letters kept secret for 60 years have revealed how Queen Mary begged her eldest son not to abdicate the throne after he fell head over heels in love with a divorced American socialite.
King Edward VIII stepped down from his royal duties less than a year after becoming King following the death of his father George V in January 1936, and married Wallis Simpson. And the shock decision of Edward VIII to choose his relationship with Ms Simpson over the throne led to his younger brother George VI becoming King and then his daughter Princess Elizabeth taking over as monarch. Ms Simpson was twice-divorced and marrying her would have been scandalous because as king, Edward was head of the Church of England which opposed remarriage after divorce.
The late author James Pope-Hennessy enjoyed exclusive access to Edward and his wife, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, whom he spent a few days with at their Parisian home in 1957.
Although he published a biography exploring the life of Edward’s mother, Mary of Teck, private jottings detailing what he observed during his stay have not been made public until now.
The royal writer found himself alone in a room with Edward and the former king began showing him letters his mother had written to him in the run up to his abdication.
Mr Pope-Hennessy wrote: “ He seized one of the two 1936 files and showed me various letters – until we reached one from Queen Mary, begging him not to broadcast (his abdication speech).
“‘Surely you might spare yourself this strain and emotion,’ he read out. A look of real disgust crossed over his face.
“‘She even tried that! Well, I ask you… if I hadn’t done that…’
“We began to talk about the abdication. ‘People can say what they like for it or against it, I don’t care.
“But one thing is certain – I acted in good faith. And I was treated bloody shabbily.’”
Presumably he was referring to a royal snub he endured after he paid £4,000 towards the £8,000 bill for a St George’s Chapel monument for his father, while Queen Mary produced the other half.
But while Edward’s generosity had made the project possible, he was not invited to the ceremony for the monument to be dedicated and there was no mention of his donation in any publishings.
The Windsors had been introduced by Edward’s then alleged mistress, Lady Furness, and ended up beginning a relationship three years later in 1934 when she was out of the country.
Just months into his reign, it had become clear that the new king planned on marrying the divorcee.
The prince was said to be besotted with the American beauty and showered her with expensive gifts including jewellery and wooed her with luxurious holidays in the Mediterranean.
News of the affair was widely broadcast in the American media but the British public were kept in the dark until the press revealed it in December.
Mr Pope-Hennessy said the pleas from his mother not to abdicate were mirrored by other members of the royal family.
He said: “If ever published, many years hence, these documents give a complete picture of the abdication chaos: grave letters from Ministers, earnest pleas from the Duke of Buccleuch; helpful offers from the Duke of York; brilliant resumes from Churchill; screeches to ‘Darling Wallis’ from Lady Oxford; notes from Diana Cooper; messages of good cheer from Sibyl Colefax; one or two bleak letters from Queen Mary – all crowded together.”
Source: EXPRESS CO UK