The Love of King (3)
On a small table in the centre of the room, there was a piece of paper. Edward sat down and read these words:
I, Edward the Eighth, King of Great Britain, King of India, King of Australia, King of New Zealand, King of Canada, King of Kenya, King of Nigeria, King of Burma, King of Malaya, King of Singapore, and King of thirty-two other countries, have today given the crown to my brother George.
God be with him and all his people, 10th December 1936.
Edward took a pen and wrote his name at the bottom of the page. Then he stood up and kissed his brother's hand.
'I never wanted this to happen,' George said. 'This is the worst day of my life.'
Edward walked over to his mother. 'Before I kiss you,' she said, 'there are some things that I want to say. I have never understood you, child. This morning you were a King. But tonight, you'll run from England like a thief. Alone. Angry. Afraid. You think that you're free. But you're not. You cannot be free.
'Everyone needs their family. Everyone needs their home. And tonight you have lost both those things.
'I love you. I am your mother and nothing can change that. But if you marry that woman, you will break my heart. Go now. It is all very sad.'
Edward kissed Queen Mary's hand. Then he turned and walked away.
The next day Edward returned to Windsor Castle. He went into a small, cold room at the top of the building.
From there, he spoke on BBC radio to Britain and the world.
This is what he said:
Tonight, for the first time, I can say a few words to you. Earlier today, I gave the crown to my brother George. He is now your King. I will soon leave this country and travel to France. My heart is with Wallis and I cannot live without the woman I love.
I don't know what will happen to me. Perhaps I will never see England again. But think of me tonight when I sail across the sea.
God be with you. Long live King George!
Edward left Windsor Castle and got into a large black car. It was now midnight and it was just beginning to rain.
'Take me away as quickly as you can,' he said. The car moved off into the darkness and the rain.
'What a night!' said the driver. 'I think the sky is crying, Sir.'
At 1.30 a.m. they arrived at Portsmouth. Edward got out of the car and a voice said: 'The King is here!'
Edward stopped and looked out across the open sea. There was a thin, cold smile on his face. 'King?' he said. 'No, I am not the King. I am just a man in love.'
Then he turned and walked onto the ship and into the night.
The next morning Edward telephoned Wallis from Boulogne.
'Did you listen to me on the radio?' he asked.
'Yes, of course,' she said.
'And how did you feel?'
'I was sitting in my room alone,' Wallis said. 'And when I listened to your words, I felt so sad. I put my hands over my eyes and I just cried. I couldn't stop myself. You have left everything for me. But I love you so much, Edward, and with me, you'll be the happiest man in the world.'
'I am that already,' he replied. 'You are all that matters in my life.'
Edward married Wallis Simpson six months later, on 3rd June 1937. None of the Royal Family came to the wedding. Edward was forty-three. Wallis was forty-one. And they now took a new name - the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
A few weeks later Edward wrote to his brother King George. 'I was surprised that you didn't come to the wedding,' he wrote. 'But Wallis is now my wife and nothing can change that. As you know, we have a house in Paris. But France is not my home, and I want to live again at Windsor with Wallis by my side.'
'I'm sorry, Edward,' King George wrote back. 'But you know how I feel about that woman. I do not like her. I will never like her. You can live here, but Wallis cannot.'
'My brother', Edward said later, 'pushed me away like a dog. I will never forget what he did. And after that I decided that I didn't want my family. They didn't want Wallis, and so I didn't want them.'
For the next thirty years, the Duke and Duchess lived in Paris. They gave parties and travelled round the world, but they never went back to Buckingham Palace.
When King George died in 1952 and Queen Mary died in 1961, Edward returned to Windsor for a few days. But Wallis stayed in France. 'It's your family,' she said. 'Not mine.'
But then, in 1966, the Duke and Duchess met Queen Elizabeth (the daughter of King George) at a small party in London. After thirty long years it was time to forget the past. Elizabeth kissed the Duchess and touched her arm. Then she turned to the Duke and said: 'Wallis is so beautiful, uncle. I think you're a lucky man.'
'That day Elizabeth was very kind to us,' Edward wrote later. 'But why couldn't my mother or my brother say those words to me?'
On BBC television in 1969, the Duke and Duchess spoke about their life together.
'Do you argue?' someone asked them.
'No, not really,' the Duchess replied. 'But there's one thing about my husband that I really don't like. He is always late. It doesn't matter if he's meeting a queen, a president, or a film star. He can never arrive on time. I don't know why. I have tried to change him, but it's just not possible.'
The Duke smiled and touched her hand. 'I know that I'm often late,' he said. 'But on our wedding day, I arrived at the church twenty minutes before you. I was early and you were late.'
'Yes, that's true,' the Duchess said. And they both laughed.
'You could see real love in their eyes,' one newspaper wrote. 'They were on television, but they forgot about the cameras and the millions of people who were watching. They were just two people in love.'
The Duchess was famous for her jewellery. 'After my husband,' she once said, 'I love jewellery more than anything else in the world.' And after thirty-five years with the Duke she had hundreds of pieces, which came from all over the world.
'I have never met a more beautiful woman than Wallis,' Edward wrote, 'and I love giving her presents. She has given me so much happiness. I buy her jewels to say "thank you".'
In May 1972, the Duke became ill. When the doctor arrived, he listened to Edward's heart and then said: 'How many cigarettes do you have a day, Sir?'
'About forty or fifty,' the Duke replied. 'But please don't ask me to stop. I've smoked for sixty years and I cannot change now.'
That night Edward called Wallis into the room. 'I feel very tired,' he said. 'And I'm afraid. I love you. I have been very happy with you, and you have been a wonderful wife. When I die, I want you to take my body back to Windsor. Will you do that for me?'
'Yes, of course,' she said. And they both began to cry.
The Duke of Windsor died one hour later with Wallis by his side.
Three days later, a blue aeroplane arrived in Paris. Wallis went back to England with the Duke's body and, for the first time in her life, she entered Buckingham Palace.
A week later, the Duchess returned to France, and for the next fourteen years she lived alone in Paris. The big house was dark. The doors were locked and she did not go out.
In the afternoons, she sat in the dining room with Edward's love letters. 'They were so beautiful,' she said.
'I read them again and again.'
But then, in 1986, Wallis became ill. She went to a small hospital near the house, and a few days later she died. 'Without Edward,' she once wrote, 'my life was empty.'
She was buried in England next to her husband at Windsor. 'It's a strange thing,' one newspaper wrote. 'When they were alive, the Duke and Duchess could never live in Britain. It was only in death that they could be there together.'
Long Live Love!
In 1970, two years before his death, Edward said:
There are some people who think that I was wrong to give away my crown. But they don't understand true love.
When I was young, I lived in Buckingham Palace. I could have anything that I wanted. But I wasn't happy because my heart was empty.
Then I met Wallis and everything changed. For half of my life I have lived here with the most beautiful woman in the world. And she is everything to me.
When I sit in my garden with the Duchess by my side, I sometimes think about my early life. I remember the days alone in my bedroom. I remember the teacher who hit me with a stick. I remember the war and my travels around the world. And then I remember the crowds of people below my window, who shouted: 'Long live love!'
On my last night in London, I spoke with Winston Churchill. In the middle of our conversation, he said: 'I think, Sir, that the best things in life are free.' I have never forgotten those words. And now, many years later, I understand what they mean. You cannot buy happiness. And you cannot buy love.
To be happy deep inside your heart is the most wonderful thing in the world. I have been a lucky man.
And so I say:
Thank God for Wallis, and LONG LIVE LOVE!'
- THE END -