In 1936, upon the death of George V his eldest son Edward ascended to the throne as Emperor of India and King of the United Kingdom and the British dominions.
Abdication Crisis avoidedEdward had held successively the titles of Prince Edward of York, Prince Edward of Cornwall and York, Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay, and Prince of Wales. As a young man, he served in World War I, undertook several foreign tours on behalf of his father, George V, and was associated with a succession of older, married women. The most recent example of the King's womanising was an affair with the American divorcée Wallis Simpson.
Members of the establishment and the royal house were horrified to discover that Edward was planning to break royal protocol by watching the proclamation of his own accession to the throne from a window in the company of the then still-married Mrs. Simpson. Fortunately for all concerned, he was disuaded from this course of action. Several months later the issue re-emerged when Edward declared that he intended to marry Wallis. However, due to her age it was improbable that such a union would bear children, and Edward was convinced to continue the relationship in semi-secrecy.
The significance of these events would only become apparent three years later. Because Edward VIII turned out to be just the right man for the hour, helping to lead the British people through the continental crisis with a calm fortitude that gained him their love and respect. Due in no small part to his excellent relationship with the German Government, the monarch had succeeded where elected politicians might fail, by ensuring that it would be "peace in our time".