The Love of King (2)
'Well,' said Lady Furness, 'a few months later she met a fine man called Ernest Simpson. He's quiet, but interesting. They got married and they now live in a beautiful flat in the centre of London.'
'And are they happy?' asked Edward.
Lady Furness looked at the Prince and smiled. 'I don't know, Sir,' she said. 'I don't know.'
During the next two years, the Prince saw Wallis once or twice a week. They had the same friends, and they often met at parties.
'Mrs Simpson knew a lot about life,' Edward once said. 'She loved books, food, people, and travel. She was very beautiful and her eyes were full of fire. She was friendly and easy to talk to and, after a while, I opened up my heart. We had no secrets. I told her everything. And that's how it all began.'
'His eyes were always sad,' Wallis said about Edward. 'And sometimes he looked like a child - so young, so quiet, so weak. He had no real friends. Perhaps people were a little afraid of him. But he was a warm and kind man. When he talked to me, I felt my heart jump. I wanted to be alone with him, but I knew that wasn't possible. Did the Prince love me in those early days? No, I don't think so. But each time we met, we just felt closer and closer.'
In June 1933 Edward gave a birthday party for Wallis, and during the next few months he visited the Simpsons' flat in London almost every day.
One evening, the Prince asked Wallis and Ernest to go skiing in Austria. 'I'm sorry, Sir,' Mr Simpson replied. 'I have to go to America on business. But perhaps Wallis and her aunt can come with you.'
'We went to Kitzbuhl as friends,' Wallis wrote later, 'but when we came home, we were in love. And a few months later the Prince asked me to marry him. It was just like a dream!'
The King is Dead! Long Live the King!
In January 1936, Edward went to Windsor for a few weeks. He was tired of town life and he wanted to work in his garden and ride his horses.
But then, one afternoon, there was a phone call from Queen Mary. 'Edward,' she said, 'you must come back immediately. Your father is very ill and I think he's going to die.'
When Edward arrived, he went straight to his father's room. He walked to the side of the bed and kissed his father's white face. The King opened his eyes and smiled. Then he took his son's hand and said: 'Be a good King, Edward. And be good to your mother.'
'Yes, father, I will.'
The King closed his eyes and did not speak again. Just after midnight he died.
Then Queen Mary took Edward's hand and kissed it. 'My child, you are now King,' she said softly. 'God be with you.'
His three brothers came to him, one by one, and they each kissed his hand. 'The King is dead. Long live the King,' they said.
At one o'clock Edward left the room to telephone Wallis. 'My father is dead,' he said.
'I'm so sorry, Sir.'
'I must stay here for a while,' Edward went on. 'But I'll phone you at the weekend. Nothing will change between you and me. I love you more than ever, and you will be my Queen.'
'Let's not talk about that now,' Wallis replied. 'You must go back to your family.'
'But you are my family, Wallis. You are everything to me. Goodnight. Sleep well.'
When Wallis put the phone down that night, she suddenly felt afraid. 'Edward is now King,' she thought, 'but what will happen to me?'
In the spring of 1936, Mrs Simpson wrote a letter to her husband.
'Dear Ernest,' she wrote. 'You have been very kind to me. You are a good and strong man. But I must tell you that our marriage is finished. I am in love with the King and I want a divorce. Don't be angry. There is nothing you can do. I'll never forget you, but I have to be free.' Ernest replied immediately: 'Your letter arrived this morning. I will do what you ask, but I'll never stop loving you. And if you need me, I'll always be here.' That night the King and Wallis met at a small restaurant in Piccadilly. Edward read Ernest's letter again and again. 'That's wonderful news,' he said. 'Nothing can stop us now!'
The next day, when Edward came down to breakfast, Gordon Lang, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was waiting for him.
'Good morning, Gordon,' the King said. 'How nice to see you again. And what can I do for you?'
For a minute the Archbishop said nothing. Then he opened a small black bag and took out three newspapers. 'I have come to see you about Mrs Wallis Simpson,' he began. 'The newspapers say that you want to marry her. Are these stories true, Sir?'
'Yes, Gordon, Wallis is going to be my wife.'
'But that's not possible,' the Archbishop replied. 'You know what the Church thinks about marriage and divorce. Divorce is wrong in the eyes of God!'
Edward smiled and then said: 'Can I ask you some questions about God, Mr Lang?'
'Yes, of course, Sir.'
'Is God happy when two people fall in love?'
'Yes, Sir, but...'
'And is God happy when two people fall in love and get married?'
'Yes, Sir, but...'
'And is God happy when two people fall in love, get married, and live happily together?'
'Yes, Sir, but...'
'Then, Archbishop, Wallis and I will make God very happy. We are in love, we'll get married, and we'll live together happily!'
'But you don't understand, Sir,' Mr Lang replied. 'The Church says that divorce is wrong. Mrs Simpson cannot leave Mr Simpson and then marry you. You must forget about her and find another woman. Please, Sir, I must ask you to think again.'
'That is not possible,' Edward said softly. 'When Wallis is free, I shall marry her.'
There was a long silence. The Archbishop looked down at the floor and shook his head. 'You're making a big mistake, Sir,' he said. 'The Church is very strong, and we will not have this woman as our Queen!' Suddenly Edward stood up, his face red and angry. 'Thank you for coming,' he said. 'But I have nothing more to say. And I want to be alone.'
The Archbishop stood up to go, but then turned and touched the King's arm. 'Please, Sir, think again. The Church will be against you.'
'I don't care,' Edward replied. 'I have God on my side, and that is all I need. Goodbye, Mr Lang.'
In July and August Wallis and the King sailed the Mediterranean. They met Prime Minister Metaxas in Greece, Kemal Ataturk in Turkey, and King Boris in Bulgaria. But that summer is famous for Edward's clothes. On the journey from Athens to Istanbul, the King took off his shirt to get brown in the sun. It was hot, and ten minutes later he was asleep. So he did not see the young photographer who was now taking pictures of the King...
When Edward returned from the Mediterranean, there was a letter waiting for him.
It was from Mr Albert Thompson of Birmingham, who wrote: 'I saw a picture of you in the newspaper this morning and I felt very angry. I have never seen a King dressed as badly as you were! No shirt! And no tie, no socks, no hat... and in short trousers! How could you, Sir?'
Edward showed this letter to Stanley Baldwin, the Prime Minister. 'What do you think of this?' the King asked.
'Mr Thompson is right, Sir,' the Prime Minister replied. 'You want to be modern, but the people don't like it.'
Edward put the letter on the fire. 'And do you think that divorce is "modern", Mr Baldwin?'
The Prime Minister sat down. 'Yes, Sir,' he began, 'I've read about this Mrs Simpson. She has two husbands still alive. And you must understand what that means, Sir. She cannot marry a King.'
'But I cannot live without her,' Edward said.
'Then, Sir,' the Prime Minister replied, 'I can see there's a storm coming. I have talked to your family and to Archbishop Lang, and we will not have this woman as our Queen.'
That night the Prime Minister and the King spoke for many hours. There were hundreds of questions, but only one answer. And so, in the early hours of the next morning, Edward said:
'You tell me that Wallis cannot marry a King. So there is only one thing that I can do. I will give the crown to my brother, and leave England. I must follow my heart. You tell me that it's a crime to fall in love. You tell me that it's wrong to be happy. How strange this country is!'
An hour later Edward telephoned Wallis. 'The Prime Minister says that a storm is coming,' Edward said. 'So I want you to go away.'
Wallis packed her bags and left for France. Then Edward went to see his mother.
It was a sad, strange, and angry meeting. 'Do you know what you are doing?' the Queen asked. 'Look out of that window. Outside this palace there are 400,000,000 people who call you King. They need you. And you will leave all this for Mrs Simpson?'
'Yes, mother, I will. I'm in love.'
'Love?' Queen Mary shouted. 'You're a King! You must love your country first!'
'But I'm also a man,' Edward said softly, 'and there's nothing that I can do.'
That afternoon the King telephoned Winston Churchill, one of his closest friends.
'I have some sad news,' Edward began. 'Last night Mr Baldwin came to see me. I have decided to go away next week.'
'Do you mean on holiday, Sir?'
'No, Winston, I'm leaving England. I'm never coming back. George will be King.'
'But that's not right, Sir. You're a free man. You must stand and fight.'
'No,' the King said. 'I have seen war and it's a terrible thing. I don't want to fight again.'
'But the people love you. And they want Wallis to be Queen.'
'Perhaps they do,' Edward replied. 'But she cannot be Queen. My enemies are stronger than I am. I am just a sailor. And when the winds change, the sea moves and it takes my boat away.'
The Woman I Love
A few days later Mr Churchill came to see Edward at Buckingham Palace. At first, the King was quiet. Then he said: 'This is my last night in England, Winston. I love this country. I wanted to be a modern, kind King. I wanted to change the world, but they stopped me. And now I have to leave.'
It was ten o'clock. Edward stood up and walked over to the window. In the dark streets below there were hundreds of people. They were singing and calling his name: 'Edward, Edward, we love Edward!' they shouted. 'Long live the King! Long live love!'
Suddenly the King turned to Mr Churchill. 'Why is this happening to me, Winston?' he cried. 'What have I done wrong?'
He sat down and put his head in his hands. There was a silence in the room, but through the open window came the shouting from the street. 'Long live Edward! Long live love! Long live Edward! Long live love!'
Mr Churchill came over and put his hand on the King's arm. Edward looked up. 'Thank you, Winston,' he said. 'You were a good friend to me.'
'Thank you, Sir. And you were a good King.'
At ten o'clock the next morning the telephone rang in Edward's bedroom.
'They're ready for you now, Sir,' a voice said.
The King walked slowly down the stairs. In front of him, there was an open door. The family were waiting for him. His mother sat near the window, dressed in black. His brothers stood beside her. 'How close they are!' the King thought.