and the Dominion
s of the British Commonwealth
, and Emperor of India
, from 20 January to 11 December 1936.
Before his accession to the throne, Edward was Prince of Wales
and Duke of Cornwall
. As a young man, he served in the British Armed Forces
during the First World War and undertook several foreign tours on behalf of his father, George V
. He was associated with a succession of older, married women but remained unmarried until his accession as king.
Only months into his reign, he caused a constitutional crisis
by proposing marriage to the American socialite Wallis Simpson, who had divorced her first husband and was seeking a divorce from her second.
"[The Indian princes’] ceremonies are so irritating and ridiculous" (Ziegler, King Edward VIII, 116)
On seeing the great archaeological finds at Taxila, in Punjab, "This place ought never to have been dug up." (Ziegler, King Edward VIII, 140)
Of Étienne Dupach, the editor of the Nassau Daily Tribune: "It must remembered that Dupach is more than half Negro, and due to the peculiar mentality of this Race, they seem unable to rise to prominence without losing their equilibrium." (Ziegler, King Edward VIII, 448)
To John Kenneth Galbraith, who had been appointed American ambassador to India, "I hear you are going to In-jea. A most interesting country. I had a very good time there in my early youth. You must do the pig-sticking in Rajasthan. And you will find the people most agreeable in their own way. They have been most uncommonly decent to my niece." (Galbraith, Ambassador’s Journal, 36)
To Gore Vidal (who described the Duke as having "always had something of...riveting stupidity to say on any subject"), "British Empire. First trip to India. Glorious. Never would have believed it would all be gone in my lifetime. Not possible, I’d’ve thought. I am the last king-emperor, you know. My brother was, for a time, but had to give it up. I didn’t" (Vidal, Palimpsest, 206)
In conversation with Mona Bismarck and Gore Vidal, "Mona said, 'Did you see Gore's new play The Best Man when you were in New York?' 'Of course not.'...'Don't like plays, only shows.' He meant musical comedies." (Vidal, Palimpsest, 206)
Discussing coronation ceremonies with Vidal, "I quickly moved on to...the moment when two masons appear and ask the newly crowned king for instructions as to his tomb. 'Masons? Masons! Yes. You one? I'm one. But I've forgotten all the odds and ends. Dull, really." (Vidal, Palimpsest, 206) all quotations from Godfrey, Letters
Italy: "...they are indeed a repulsive nation these dagoes, both the men and the women & I'm just longing to quit them for good & all !!!" (18 September 1918)
Cologne, Germany: "Claud & I had a stroll in the centre of town afterwards & had great fun making the Hun men civilians get off the pavement for us .... It does one worlds of good to know how humiliating it must be for the Huns" (9 January 1919)
Quebec City, Canada: "A rotten priest-ridden community who are the completest passengers & who won't do their bit in anything & of course not during the war !!" (23 Aug 1919)