December 11, 2014

On this date in 1936, Edward VIII, King of Great Britain, abdicated his throne. Radio stations around the world broadcast his farewell speech.

He began with these words:

“At long last I am able to say a few words of my own. I have never wanted to withhold anything, but until now it has not been constitutionally possible for me to speak.

A few hours ago I discharged my last duty as King and Emperor, and now that I have been succeeded by my brother, The Duke of York, my first words must be to declare my allegiance to him. This I do with all my heart.

You all know the reasons which have impelled me to renounce the Throne. But I want you to understand that in making up my mind I did not forget the country or the Empire which as Prince of Wales, and lately as King, I have for twenty-five years tried to serve. 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.”

The speech as broadcast by BBC radio:

Here is a story excerpt from the New York Herald Tribune:

“King Edward VIII renounced his throne today because the vast empire over which he had ruled for only ten months refused to let him take Mrs. Wallis Warfield Simpson, of Baltimore, as his Queen. The King announced his ‘irrevocable decision’ to abdicate and named his eldest brother the Duke of York, as his successor in a dramatic message which was read to both Houses of Parliament this afternoon.”

In addition to hearing the news on radio, or reading it in print, viewers could also watch newsreel footage at their local movie theater.

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