Because of his desire to marry a twice-divorced American, Wallis Warfield Simpson—of whom the royal family and the British government did not approve—the king was forced to issue an instrument of abdication on 10 December 1936 in favor of his brother Albert, who then became king as George VI. Edward formally abdicated on 11 December 1936. Subsequently titled His Royal Highness the Duke of Windsor, he married Simpson on 3 June 1937. In October 1937, the Windsors visited Germany, and the duke met with several top Nazis, including Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring, and was said to have admired improved housing and social conditions under Nazi rule. The Nazis attempted to involve him in many schemes, including promises to restore his crown. During World War II, there were rumors that the Nazis threatened to kidnap the duke.
Until 1940, the Windsors traveled throughout Europe, primarily residing in France, where the duke served as a British liaison officer. Forced to flee France on that nation's defeat in June 1940, the duke then became governor of the Bahamas, serving in that post until 1945.
The duke of Windsor's later years were spent traveling between France, where he lived, and the United States. He published three books, notably his memoirs, A King's Story. He died on 28 May 1972 in Paris and is buried in the royal burial ground at Frogmore, near Windsor Castle. The Duchess died on 24 April 1986 and is buried next to him. Wendy A. Maier
Bloch, Michael, ed. Wallis and Edward: Letters, 1931–1937—The Intimate Correspondence of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. New York: Summit Books, 1986.; Bloch, Michael. The Duke of Windsor's War: From Europe to the Bahamas. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1982.; Donaldson, Frances. Edward VIII. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1975.; Windsor, Duke of. A King's Story. London: Cassell, 1951.; Ziegler, Philip. King Edward VIII: A Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991.
Wendy A. Maier