Edward VIII was born on 23 June 1894. He served with the Commonwealth Forces in World War I. In 1920, as Prince of Wales, he was sent on an extended tour, principally to thank the Allies for their assistance in World War I. The visit was one of the most popular royal visits to Australia. The Prince's first port of call was Melbourne, where he arrived on 27 May. He subsequently visited all the Australian states and departed from the country on 18 August 1920. His tour also included Barbados, California, Honolulu, Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa, Acapulco, the West Indies and Bermuda.
Prince Edward ascended the throne on 20 January 1936 following the death of his father, George V. Before his coronation, however, he took the unprecedented step of abdicating to allow him to marry a twice divorced American woman, Mrs Wallis Simpson. On 10 December 1936 he announced to the Empire:
'After long and anxious consideration, I have determined to renounce the Throne to which I succeeded on the death of my father and I am now communicating this my final and irrevocable decision. Realising as I do the gravity of this step, I can only hope that I shall have the understanding of my people in the decision I have taken, and the reasons which have led me to take it.
'I will not enter now into my private feelings, but I would beg that it should be remembered that the burden which constantly rests upon the shoulders of the Sovereign is so heavy that it can only be borne in circumstances different from those in which I now find myself.
'I conceive that I am not overlooking the duties of a Sovereign that rest upon me to place in the forefront public interests, when I declare that I am conscious that I can no longer discharge this heavy task with efficiency or with satisfaction to myself.'
Edward had reigned for just 325 days.
Edward became the Duke of Windsor after his abdication and lived with his wife in exile. He was thought to be a Nazi sympathizer, and visited Germany in October 1937, notoriously making a Nazi salute. The Duke and Duchess remained in exile for the rest of their lives.
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