In 1936, King Edward VIII became the only British sovereign to voluntarily resign the crown. Edward wanted to marry Mrs. Wallis Simpson, an American who was in the process of obtaining her second divorce. Because of her status, the marriage was firmly opposed by the royal family and the Church of England. Nevertheless, the king submitted his abdication. Some people considered his decision as part of an endearing love story; others saw it as shocking and scandalous. Either way, the king’s abdication is a good place to be finding God in sacrifice when we look at it in light of the Christmas story.
It would be easier to romanticize the story if we ignored the prince’s earlier relationships. At age twenty-three, Edward began an affair with a married woman which lasted sixteen years. He also had a long-term relationship with Viscountess Thelma Furness, who introduced him to Mrs. Simpson. It took Price Edward two years to end his relationships with the other two women and make Wallis Simpson the only one in his life.
Edward didn’t decide to renounce the throne lightly after reigning only ten months. He knew such a move would be controversial. He understood that he might face disapproval from the public and the political establishment. But since it was impossible for him to marry a divorced woman with a living ex-spouse and remain on the throne, Edward was forced to choose between the two.
On a radio broadcast the day after Edward’s abdication, the former king explained: “But you must believe me when I tell you that I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.”
Edward and Mrs. Simpson were married on June 3, 1937, when her divorce was finalized; they remained together until his death thirty-five years later.
The throne of England is nothing compared to what Jesus Christ gave up for us.
Philippians 2:6-8 explains that although Jesus was God, he temporarily set aside his divine rights and left the glories of heaven to be born as a helpless baby in a stable. Jesus willingly accepted the frailties and limitations of a human body; he also knew he would suffer humiliation, persecution, and a horrible death to pay the price for our sins.
Each time we see a nativity scene, the baby in the manger reminds us of all that Jesus sacrificed to become the Savior of the world. Even though King Edward’s love for Mrs. Simpson pales in comparison to the love that motivated Jesus, we can still be finding God in this historical event.
Enjoy this beautiful music from the band Downhere, singing “How Many Kings”:
© Dianne Neal Matthews ( www.DianneNealMatthews.com) Adapted from her book : One Year on This Day (Tyndale House Publishers). History buffs can see the full text of King Edward VIII’s speech at historyplace.com and the 1936 newspaper article about Edward and Wallis at guardian.co.uk.