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Public Records: Edward's speech blocked.

Byline: Peter Archer

Edward VIII was banned by the government from making a radio broadcast appealing for public support during the 1936 Abdication Crisis.

The King wanted to deliver an impassioned speech in the hope of marrying American divorcee Wallis Simpson and still retaining his throne.

But Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin blocked the oration and, in the end, Edward was confined to making a farewell address.

Previously top-secret files, released by the Public Records Office in London, contain the text of the King's banned speech.

In it he speaks of his love for Mrs Simpson and hints at the possibility of a morganatic marriage whereby she would not have been Queen.

The undelivered text, which it is thought Winston Churchill helped to write, says: 'By ancient custom, the King addresses his public utterances to his people. Tonight I am going to talk to you as my friends - British men and women wherever you may reside, within or without the Empire.

'The last time I broadcast to you all, on St David's Day, I told you that you had known me better as the Prince of Wales. I am still that same man whose motto was 'Ich Dien', 'I Serve'; and I have tried to serve this country and the Empire for the last 20 years.

'And tonight I am not forgetting the great dominions and dependencies beyond the seas who have always shown me such open-hearted kindness.'

Referring to a news blackout concerning his love affair with Mrs Simpson and the possible constitutional consequences, Edward wanted to thank British newspapers for their 'courtesy and consideration'.

The text continued: 'It was never my intention to hide anything from you.

'Hitherto it has not been possible for me to speak, but now I must.

'I could not go on bearing the heavy burdens that constantly rest on me as King, unless I could be strengthened in the task by a happy married life; and so I am firmly resolved to marry the woman I love, when she is free to marry me.

'You know me well enough to understand that I never could have contemplated a marriage of convenience.

'It has taken me a long time to find the woman I want to make my wife.

'Without her I have been a very lonely man. With her I shall have a home and all the companionship and mutual sympathy and understanding which married life can bring.

'I know that many of you have had the good fortune to be blessed with such a life and I am sure that in your hearts you would wish the same for me.

'Neither Mrs Simpson nor I have ever sought to insist that she should be Queen.

'All we desired was that our married happiness should carry with it a proper title and dignity for her, befitting my wife.

'Now that I have at last been able to take you so fully into my confidence, I feel it is best to go away for awhile, so that you may reflect calmly and quietly, but without undue delay, on what I have said.

'Nothing is nearer to my heart than that I should return; but whatever may befall, I shall always have a deep affection for my country, for the Empire and for you all.'

The files contain a letter from Prime Minister Baldwin stating that the proposed broadcast would be a grave breach of constitutional principles if the King made a statement on matters of public interest without the advice of government ministers.

Mr Baldwin wrote: 'Such a broadcast can only be given on the advice of his ministers who would be responsible for every sentence of it.'

In the circumstances, Mr Baldwin - who was strongly opposed to Edward marrying Mrs Simpson and retaining the crown - could not advise that the King should broadcast as proposed.

Dr Susan Williams, historical adviser to the Public Records Office, said: 'The minutes and verbatim reports of Cabinet meetings flesh out the background to the Abdication and reveal the government's determination not to let the King marry Mrs Simpson, morganatically or otherwise.

'They confirm that although the Cabinet trusted the King to behave with propriety, they feared Winston Churchill would exploit Edward's popular support to form a King's Party that would challenge the government.

'The files contain detailed evidence of the government's concern to manage public opinion through the media.'


King Edward VIII (later the Duke of Windsor) making his first radio broadcast to the world on the 1st March 1936. Inset: Stanley Baldwin who blocked the Edward's attempt to appeal for public support
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 30, 2003
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