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Edward VIII by Frances Donaldson

Edward VIII

by Frances Donaldson

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Edward VIII, by Frances Donaldson, is an excruciatingly detailed biography of Edward VIII, more commonly known as the Duke of Windsor.

Much emphasis is placed upon his upbringing (not one one would envy, despite the wealth and title). The royal parents were actually quite crappy parents when you get down to it, and much of the later behaviour of the Duke can be laid at their feet.

However, in the end, the portrait painted of the Duke is one of a man, not too bright to put it mildly, badly educated, and surrounded without sycophants who told him what he wanted to hear, but with a great deal of physical charm and a practical sense of how to relate to the "common man."

The tragedy is of course that all this talent was completely wasted because he chose, early on, to marry another man's wife and spent the rest of his life a) making that happen and b) paying the consequences.

The concurrent description of Wallis Simpson was very interesting as well. She was described by many (in other books as well) as not loving him quite as much as he loved her. If she had truly wanted to prevent the "tragedy" of the life of the Duke, she would not have permitted his attentions, and would have absented herself from his presence permanently. She didn't, and much if not most of the blame for his aimless and sad later life is to be placed at her feet.

At the end of the book, and the end of his life, it's impossible not to make comparisons between the Duke and the current Prince of Wales. Consider: the Duke gave up the throne and lived a life, mainly pointless, with no real job or point to his life because he broke up a marriage and then married the divorcee. He spent the rest of his life hopelessly trying to get the Royal Family to recognize Wallis, and grant her the title of Her Royal Highness (they didn't).

The current Prince broke up a marriage, married the woman in question, lives a life without a real job or aim to his life, is surrounded by sycophants who tell him what he wants to hear, but lost nothing at all in status, money, title, etc. His wife will by all accounts become Queen of England one day. It is amazing what the passage of 80 years changed in the way of acceptance of what is identical behaviour.

What would the Royal Family be like now if Edward had not found it necessary to abdicate? He would have remained King. The Queen would have remained a Princess, Charles would not be the heir apparent. The entire Diana tragedy would not have occurred. Camilla would not be Queen in waiting.

  MissJessie | Oct 16, 2013 |
A biography of the Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII. I've read several books about him in the last few years, and the more I read, the more I think that everyone in the world needs to go down on their knees and thank their creator that he abdicated when he did. Well, maybe not Germany.
He was NOT a very bright boy (although very cute and possibly personable in his early days). This book makes him out to be quite a whiner, and it's not the first time I've heard that. It's a very well-researched book, although it tends to drag in places, and at the beginning, the titles and pronouns are switched around so I had to re-read several passages to know which king it was referring to. The book trails off somewhat after the abdication, so not a lot of information about the life he and the duchess lived. ( )
  tloeffler | Jul 31, 2012 |
4065 Edward VIII, by Frances Donaldson (read 31 Aug 2005) One of my reading projects is to read a biography of every US president and every English king, and this book is a step pertinent to that aim. This is 1974 biography of the duke of Windsor, who died 28 May 1972, and I found it full of interest, though somewhat gossipy--but Edward VIII invited a lot of gossip. The account of the events leading up to the abdication, while I had read Abdication by Brian Inglis on 3 Jan 1982 and still remembered that excellent account, is well told and of high interest. This book was fun to read, and held my interest throughout. ( )
  Schmerguls | Oct 17, 2007 |
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Edward VIII was heralded as the definitive biography of the ex-King and awarded the prestigious Wolfson Prize when it was first published in 1974. Since then no book on the subject has come close to Frances Donaldson's in scholarship or detachment and this re-issue also features the extra material added to the text in 1986.… (more)

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