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The People's King: The True Story of the Abdication

The People's King: The True Story of the Abdication by Susan Williams

ISBN10: 1403963630
ISBN13: 978-1403963635
Author: Susan Williams
Book title: The People's King: The True Story of the Abdication
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; First Edition edition (January 3, 2004)
Language: English
Category: Historical
Size PDF: 1876 kb
Size ePub: 1894 kb
Size Fb2: 1281 kb
Rating: 4.1/5
Votes: 204
Pages: 336 pages

The People's King: The True Story of the Abdication by Susan Williams

The People's King follows the six intense weeks leading up to the abdication of Edward VIII, considered by many to be among the most compelling love stories of the last century. Just six months before their wedding, the only people who had heard of Wallis Simpson were those people who belonged to the tiny social circle surrounding the royal family. Press coverage and newsreels were strictly censored. Through contemporary letters and diaries, many never before published, Susan Williams demonstrates the huge popularity of the King and the events that led to his downfall.


Not much of a book in the literal sense. More of a rough draft, a compilation of overheard conversations, trite observations, and outdated phraseology ( I thought the use of "Establishment", to represent the upper classes, went out in the late 70's). This author seem stuck in advocacy mode. The King was concerned about the poor...other than a walkaround with Welsh miners, she cites no proof or examples. But she thinks he was concerned so that is all the proof the readers need. Very condescending tone throughout this "book" also, as if the readers only wanted the gossipy side of the story. Instead of focusing on how this man forfeited his role as King of England to be dominated by this woman, she avoids any historical comparisons. Edward was a weak and gutless man, and his abdication saved England in WWII. THAT is the real story. I've seen better freshman English thesis papers as compared to this drivel. No sources cited, no bibliography, nothing but a glorified soap opera. Grade it an F.

If you are interested in the process of the abdication, plus the love story of King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson you will enjoy the book. It goes detail. I have found all the books on this subject are very interesting and good reading material.

Very little is known about Susan Williams, and her scholarship is certainly debatable given that she confuses popularity with effective and ethical governance. Her sole foundation for her ludicrous conspiracy theory is that Edward was so popular it MUST have been the connivance of dark forces of church and state that forced him from office. Williams completely disregards that long before and even after he became king, David Windsor was a self-absorbed hedonist who was not a rebel against tradition, but so ignorant he could not grasp the fundamentals of public service. He either fired or reduced the wages of his royal servants so that he could lavish Mrs. Simpson with jewels. Far from being "the people's king", he would have been the people's nightmare had he reigned as a fascist Hitler-loving monarch. The book is shoddy and shallow at best, and irresponsible at worst.

A masterpiece of historical research!!! This book is for everybody who is really interested in the truth of what happened in 1935 and 1936 regarding the abdication of King Edward VIII.

Someone witty once said that Britain should have statues honoring Wallis Simpson all over England. It's true; she saved them from the catastrophe that would have been King Edward VIII. Instead of reigning ineptly over the people of Britain, he instead jaunted from villa to hotel to chateau all over Europe and beyond, swilled cocktails, and draped his beloved in jewels. When Edward VIII abdicated to marry his twice-divorced American Wallis, it was the best thing to happen to England since Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha trotted over from Germany to marry the besotted Queen Victoria.

This book presents the view that the people loved King Edward and did not want to see him abandon the throne and would have accepted a morganatic marriage with Wallis as wife but not queen. He, however, wanted her to have "the whole bag of tricks." That he was popular with the people certainly is true. But David (as he was known in the family) was a self-absorbed man with little sense of personal duty, no grasp of the responsibility of royalty, and strong feelings against his mother, Queen Mary (whom he described in his memoirs as a "bitch with ice water running in her veins.") He was the golden boy of the family as Prince of Wales in the 20s - handsome, dashing, modern. Indeed, he had an almost American classless sensibility. He liked cocktails and weekend partying and married women. He was a source of considerable irritation to his father, George V, who said about him despairingly, "After I'm dead, that boy will ruin himself in twelve months," which wasn't far from the truth.

The author also posits that he would have made a wonderful king if the bad government hadn't bullied him into abdicating. He had progressive social ideas that would have been beneficial to the country. He wanted to help the poor and marginalized of the country. That might have been true on the surface, but nothing about the Duke of Windsor's life post-abdication bears this out. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor did not spend much time attempting to improve the lives of the poor or downtrodden anywhere, and he served most begrudgingly as Governor of Bermuda during World War II while his brother and wife were being bombed on in Buckingham Palace. He simply gave lip service to the idea of social programs while he was Prince of Wales, but that is the extent of it.

English history bulges with the stories of younger brothers who take up the mantle of kingship when the older brother has died: Henry VIII was a younger brother, as was George V (indeed, George's brother Eddy, Duke of Clarence, was another spoiled, dissipated libertine who spared the country when he conveniently died in his 20s). In this story, the older brother bolted with his lover instead and left the younger brother, the hapless Bertie, holding the bag. Bertie, who became George VI, was saddled with a speech impediment, stutter, and similar mother issues. However, he had a better-formed character, and was blessed not only with a strong sense of determination and duty but also a loving and supportive wife, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. He married a strong woman reminiscent of mother but much kinder, whereas David found a bullying mother figure in Wallis and reveled in it the rest of his life. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were the exact people for the country heading into the Second World War and beyond. They might have been dull and nonfascinating, but they had two lively daughters and a settled family life. They were not photographed shaking the hand of Hitler, frolicking on holiday at the beach, or leaving drink-rings on the state papers. They were dutiful, perfect royals. George V once remarked that he hoped "nothing would come between Bertie and Lilibet (current Elizabeth II) and the throne." He got his wish.

The only legitimate gripe the Duke and Duchess had was the withholding of the title "Her Royal Highness" to Wallis after she married David. As the wife of a royal duke, she was without a doubt entitled to it. The Duke bitched about this to his dying day, mattering more to him than his virtual exile from England. It mattered less to Wallis, who I think never wanted to be the wife of a periphatic, roaming monarch. There was far more cachet in being the mistress of a king than the wife of an exile, and I would wager she was horrified that David made his grand romantic gesture and gave it all up for her. Personally, I think it was a selfish escape from the responsibilities of kingship for David. I think he wanted his cake and to eat it, too. He thought he would be able to come back and live in grand style in England as Duke of Windsor with his beloved. However, the family were outraged at his dereliction of duty, and there was simply no way the government would allow back into the country someone so volatile as to communicate personally to Adolph Hitler (albeit it was a plea for peace), member of the royal family or not.

Simply put, the author feels Edward VIII was unfairly pushed out of his role and unable to fulfill what was undoubtedly a shining destiny. I think perhaps he meant well, but the truth is far different, as I feel history bears out brilliantly. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor turned into sad figures with no sense of social responsibility whatsoever. Wallis, the woman who saved England, should indeed be honored with statues throughout the country.