The Truth About Edward VIII?

Friday 30 August

Venue: White Rock Hotel

18.30 to 19.30

Single tickets £7.50, or £15.00 for all three 20th Century History talks.

What if Wallis Simpson wasn’t the real reason for Edward VIII’s abdication? Cambridge historian Ted Powell, Edward’s most recent biographer, writes about the playboy prince’s greatest love affair.

Years before he met Wallis Simpson, King Edward VIII had fallen in love with America.

As a young Prince of Wales he was captivated by the energy, confidence and raw power of the USA as it strode onto the world stage at the end of the First World War. “I’m liking the Americans more than ever,” he wrote excitedly after visiting American troops in January 1919. “I’m just longing to go to the States… but we just must be closely allied with the USA, closer than we are now, and it must be lasting and they are very keen about it.”

Much has been made of Edward’s Nazi associations, but, Powell suggests, in fact his ties with America were much closer. In 1935, as war threatened Europe once again, he told an American journalist: “The peace of the world depends upon the friendly association of the two great English-speaking peoples. Only the United States and Great Britain working together and in perfect harmony can prevent the world from drifting into helpless anarchy and barbarism.”

From the first, Edward was transfixed by his experience of the USA. Being one of the few places he visited which was not part of the British Empire, America gave him a special sense of freedom.

The causes of the Abdication have long been debated, and continue to rouse controversy. Did Edward simply give up his throne for love, or was he the victim of an establishment plot to remove him? Was he temperamentally unsuited to kingship and seeking a pretext to resign the throne?

Whatever the short-term causes, there can be no doubt that Edward’s personal Americanisation from 1919 onwards created the preconditions for his abdication, shaping his personal relationships, transforming his attitude to monarchy, and alienating him from the rest of the royal family.

£15 for one ticket for the talks by David Lewis, Duncan Barrett and Ted Powell, running consecutively at the White Rock Hotel.

You may also be interested in: The Psychology of a Dictator; Women of Westminster.

Ted Powell

Ted, a royal historian and lecturer at the University of Cambridge and formerly a lawyer before moving into academia, hopes to start working on a biography about Richard Pankhurst, the husband of suffragette Emily Pankhurst. It would be the first biography on Mr Pankhurst and his suffragette work which began in the 1860s. Ted’s other writing plans include a novel about Winston Churchill’s relationship with the various royals he served under.

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