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Notorious moment in history of Britain's monarchy recalled

By Laura Elston

The 80th anniversary of one of the most turbulent times in the history of the British monarchy has been marked.

Edward VIII's abdication in 1936 rocked the nation when the King, who had been in the job for less than 11 months, gave up his throne in order to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

He left his brother, the Duke of York - the Queen's father - to take over as George VI.

Edward VIII signed the Instrument of Abdication on the morning of December 10, 1936 in front of his three brothers and his lawyers, and the news was announced to the Commons by the prime minister, Stanley Baldwin. The next day, December 11, the Act of Abdication came into effect when it was passed by Parliament and given royal assent in Edward's last act as king.

Princess Elizabeth, who was just 10 at the time, became the heiress presumptive on his abdication.

Her mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, never forgave Edward and Mrs Simpson for their actions, and the former king and his lover went into exile in France.

Historian Richard Toye has said Edward VIII would have been a "useless king" and that, rather than giving up the crown for love, he was looking for a way out from a role he "fundamentally couldn't stomach".

Prof Toye, of Exeter University, said: "You have to ask yourself whether this whole episode was really about his most incredible, profound love for Mrs Simpson, or whether he was perhaps subconsciously looking for a get-out."

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