History from across the centuries, Royalty from the 21st

Mon 23rd April, 2018
 

‘I’m not a big enough man’ for the job of King, said Edward VIII’s letter to mistress

A letter to his mistress has revealed the Playboy Prince, Edward VIII, had doubts about his future as King decades before he abdicated.

Written to mistress Freda Dudley-Ward during a tour of Canada in 1919, Prince Edward spoke of his fear of succeeding his father as Monarch:

The Prince of Wales, future Edward VIII, doubted his ability to reign in 1919. Library and Archives Canada.

The Prince of Wales, future Edward VIII, doubted his ability to reign as early as 1919 – before he met Wallis Simpson – as seen in his letter to his mistress. (Library and Archives Canada)

“I really am down & out to-night sweetheart & feeling like death as I’ve never taken such a hopelessly miserable & despondent view of life as I do now,” the letter reads.

“It’s hell and all on account of having had to do the P of W [Prince of Wales] stunt & play to the gallery till I can do it no more.

“I feel I’m thru and realise as I’ve so often told you sweetheart that I’m not 1/2 big enough man to take on what I consider is just about the biggest job in the world.”

Freda Dudley-Ward was The Prince of Wales’ mistress from 1918 to 1934, before he fell in love with twice-divorced American, Wallis Simpson.

A stamp collector found the item in a trunk, and it is being sold at auction in Nottingham. Estimates are that it will fetch £1,200.

The letter shows that even 17 years prior to taking the throne, and then renouncing it, Edward doubted his ability to fulfil the role of King.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor: Edward VIII on his wedding day after marrying Wallis Simpson in Paris. Library and Archives Canada)

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor: Edward VIII on his wedding day after marrying Wallis Simpson in Paris. (Library and Archives Canada)

He became King in January 1936 when his father died, but caused a constitutional crisis by abdicating 11 months later, choosing love over duty. This lead to his younger brother, Albert (George VI), taking the throne.

Richard Davie, of International Autograph Auctions, said: “It is well documented that the Prince of Wales had doubts about being King and others also doubted he was right for the role.

“I think it is fascinating this self-doubt was in his mind almost two decades before he took the throne.”

David, as Edward was known to members of his family, also made comments about his parents, King George V and Queen Mary:

“I owe my Mama 2 letters & my father 3 tho they do write such balls that they are hardly worth answering.”

Written by

Victoria has a passion for British history and Constitutional Monarchy, hence her reasons for founding The Crown Chronicles. Her specialism is the Early Modern era, with particular emphasis on the Tudor and Stuart dynasties. She is also a keen reader (usually something historical), baker and shopper. Her motto is to have a full bookcase, but a fuller wardrobe. Miss Howard also works closely with the British Monarchist Foundation as their Press Secretary and Spokesman.

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