Note: This article will be revised to include more information in the near future.
Called David in his family, King Edward VIII was the eldest son of King George V and Queen Mary. He became King upon the death of his father in January of 1936 and abdicated the throne in December of 1936 in order to marry the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Following his abdication, David was made the Duke of Windsor and married Wallis Simpson in June of 1937. For more information on the Duke of Windsor’s life and abdication see:
Wikipedia: Edward VIII
Wikipedia: Edward VIII abdication crisis
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor lived the latter part of their lives in Paris, France in a mansion they called Villa Windsor located at 4 Route du Champ d’Entraînement in the Bois de Boulogne, a large park. The house is owned by the city of Paris and was leased to the Windsors at a nominal rent from 1952 to 1986. During the 1950s and 1960s, the Duke and Duchess were treated as celebrities and were the toast of parties they hosted and attended as guests. The couple visited Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon at the White House and were popular guests among “society” around the world.
The Duchess was never fully accepted by the Royal Family. Her mother-in-law Queen Mary refused to formally receive her. Occasionally, the Duke did visit his mother and brother King George VI and did attend his brother’s funeral in 1952 and his mother’s funeral in 1953. He did not attend the coronation of his niece in 1953. In 1965, the Duke and Duchess visited London and were visited by the Duke’s niece Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke’s sister-in-law Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, and the Duke’s sister Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood. During their visit to London, the Duke’s sister Mary suddenly died and the couple attended her funeral. The funeral of Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent in 1968 was the last royal event the Duke attended. He was invited to the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales in 1969, but declined the invitation.
The Duke’s health started to decline during the 1960s when he was treated for an aneurysm and detached retina. He was a smoker and in late 1971 was diagnosed with throat cancer. Early in 1972, the Duke underwent surgery for a hernia. On May 18, 1972, Queen Elizabeth II, along with the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales, visited the Duke at his Paris home while on a state visit to France. The Duke was too ill to come downstairs to tea, but the Queen spent 15 minutes talking alone with her Uncle David in his first floor sitting room after the Duchess of Windsor hosted tea in the downstairs drawing room.
Ten days later, a statement from Buckingham Palace said: “It is announced with deep regret that His Royal Highness, the Duke of Windsor, has died at his home in Paris at 2:25 A.M., Sunday, May 28, 1972. The Duke of Windsor died a month before his 78th birthday. The Duke’s body, lay in state at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, and an unexpectedly large number of people filed by the casket.
At the Duke’s request, a private royal funeral was held at St. George’s Chapel. The casket, draped in the Duke’s personal standard, was carried into the chapel by eight soldiers of the Welsh Guard followed by the Duke of Edinburgh, King Olav V of Norway who was a first cousin of the Duke, and other male members of the Royal Family. Excepting the Duke’s only surviving brother, the Duke of Gloucester who was too ill, all other adult members of the Royal Family attended the funeral. The Dean of Windsor, the Rt. Rev. Launcelot Fleming, conducted the funeral service along with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Michael Ramsey, and the Archbishop of York, Dr. Donald Coggan. During the funeral, the Garter King of Arms recited words reserved for a deceased sovereign: “Knight of the Garter, of the Thistle, of St. Patrick, Knight Grand Cross of a multiplicity of Orders, sometime the most high, most mighty and most excellent monarch Edward VIII of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India.”
You Tube: BBC News Video Clip 1972 Duke of Windsor (Edward VIII) Funeral
The Duke’s casket was of plain English oak and bore the inscription “HRH The Prince Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, Duke of Windsor. Born 1894. Died 1972. King Edward VIII 20th January – 11th December 1936.” The Duke of Windsor was buried next to his brother the Duke of Kent at the Royal Burial Ground behind the Royal Mausoleum of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Frogmore near Windsor Castle. The Duchess of Windsor attended her husband’s funeral. She lived as a recluse in her Paris home until her death in 1986 and was buried next to her husband at Frogmore.