Edward VIII: who was monarch, what was abdication, and when is Ch4 documentary Britain’s Traitor King on TV?

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Edward VIII: Britain’s Traitor King is a scandalous new Channel 4 documentary that explores how the former king betrayed Britain for the Nazis

The documentary  provides shocking revelations about the man who was dubbed Princess Elizabeth’s “favourite uncle”.

So who was Edward VIII, what did he do and when is the documentary on TV?

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Who was Edward VIII?

Young Edward WindsorYoung Edward Windsor
Young Edward Windsor

Edward VIII was born during the reign of his great-grandmother Queen Victoria, as the eldest child of King George V and Queen Mary.

As a young man, he joined the British Army in World War One, and although he did not see active service due to his royal status, he did take part in extensive foreign tours - where he would represent his father.

Upon his father’s death in January 1936, Edward became the second monarch of the House of Windsor, to become King.

However, it was evident that he showed great impatience for the royal protocol, and seemed to have a disregard for his duty, and the constitutional conventions of being a monarch.

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Edward was known to have had affairs with multiple married women in the past, one in particular being Wallis Simpson, the wife of an American businessman. In October 1936, Simpson was granted a divorce from her husband, and as a result Edward was determined to marry her.

His royal advisors however, were against it as they knew as a King, he would not be allowed to marry a divorced woman.

What did Edward VIII do?

Edward VIII and Wallis SimpsonEdward VIII and Wallis Simpson
Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson

Long before Buckingham palace had to deal with the scandals of Prince Andrew being sued for assault, or the allegations of racism made during tell-all interviews, there was Edward and Wallis.

The situation has in recent years been compared to that of Prince Harry, since both men chose to abandon their royal duties and titles for love.

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On December 10 1936, Edward signed the instrument of abdication, and the role of monarch was passed on to the next in line to the throne -  Edward’s younger brother, and father to the then-Princess Elizabeth, George VI.

The following day he addressed the nation through a BBC radio broadcast, in order to explain his decision and actions. He then left for Europe, where he would go on to marry Wallis Simpson, and they were given the titles of duke and duchess of Windsor.

What is Edward VIII: Britain’s Traitor King about?

Duke and Duchess of Windsor are photographed with Adolf Hitler in 1937.Duke and Duchess of Windsor are photographed with Adolf Hitler in 1937.
Duke and Duchess of Windsor are photographed with Adolf Hitler in 1937.

The Channel 4 Documentary, Edward VIII: Britain’s Traitor King, digs deeper into the story, by unearthing new documents, discoveries and even interviews with people that knew Wallis and the Duke, personally.

Using previously unseen research, the documentary explores how Edward was actually complicit in a plan to get back into the monarchy, in the event of a Nazi victory.

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German files were discovered that show the Duke’s day-to-day involvement, which included passing on information to Adolf Hitler, and the Nazi regime.

Historians also believe that he was guilty of calling for a plan, to bomb Britain into submission.

When is the documentary on TV?

Britain’s Traitor King will be on Channel 4, on Sunday 27 March, at 8pm.

It is being repeated on Saturday 14 August.

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