What Are You Willing To Give Up In The Name Of Love?

On the cold morning of December 11, 1936, the world woke up to hear the shocking news of the abdication of the newly ascended British King, Edward VIII. It was unbelievable in the anal of British history because none in its existence ever had a monarch voluntarily gave up the throne in the name of love.

In his speech, the forlorn king emphasized:

"But you must believed me when I tell you that it is impossible for me to carry the burden and responsibilities and discharge my duty as king without the support of the woman I love."

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, defying odds to be together

To the royal family, it was an ultimate betrayal, a direct defiance of duty which had been considered as a sacrilege to their custom and tradition and to which the royal family had been devoted since the early times. But to the rest of the world, Edward's action was the greatest legacy of love, a sacrifice of a man so in love he had no other choice but to give up his world riches to be with the woman he dearly loved.

In this season of love, let us ponder on the love story of this British king and how he changed the royal tradition of falling in love, which later became the window of decision making followed by the succeeding royals. So unique and unconventional that this story became one of the greatest love stories of all time.

How Things Started?

Edward VIII, known as David, the Prince of Wales, before his ascension in January 1936, was the eldest child of King George V and Queen Mary and the paternal uncle of the current British Queen, Elizabeth II. As a future British king, he was expected to marry and find a suitable royal bride.

During his time, royals were not permitted to marry a commoner, much more a divorce person, so David was expected to look for a bride within the royal and nobility circle only. In 1935, David was courting a storm of controversy when the news of his secret love affair with Wallis Simpson became public.

She was everything the royal family despised. An American, a commoner, once divorce and on the brink of separating from her second husband, became public. To the world of aristocracy, she did not deserve the love of a king born to a privilege life.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor on their wedding day in June 1937

George V did everything in his power to cut the relationship but his son was so besotted with Wallis he declared he would never abandon her. In January 1936, George V died, David succeeded as Edward VIII and the headache of the British royal family and the parliament began. The newly-ascended king wanted to marry his lover as soon as her second divorce  became final.

It was pure madness. As a British king, Edward would be the supreme governor of the Church of  England which never  performed a re-marriage, due to the fact that Christian marriages are indissoluble. And worst, Wallis was a non-aristocratic commoner. Something never heard from the previous Queen Consorts. None in the history of the British monarchy ever had a monarch married a divorcee (except King Henry VIII). The relationship  was met with strong opposition from the royal family and the government.

For nine months, the controversial love affair of the king became the most heated public discussion in Britain and its dominions and threatening to fall into a constitutional crisis.

During the entire controversy, the love-struck king was so alone in his battle. He could not get support from the royal family members who upheld the ancient custom and tradition of marrying only within their circle and those deemed suitable.

The poll was conducted and the result was unanimous. Either abandon Mrs. Wallis Simpson or take the throne. The king chose love. And gave up the British throne. Upon his abdication, the throne passed to his younger brother, Prince Bertie who would become King George VI. He was the father of Queen Elizabeth II.

Edward was created Duke of Windsor and was ostracized from the British court forever. On the night of his abdication, he went quietly to Austria and joined Wallis in France after her divorce from her second husband became final.

They married in June 1937. The royal family cut their ties to Edward, who would never see England again until 16 years later when King George VI died. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor lived in Paris. And judging from history, their union was a happy one. Though abandoned by the royal family, Edward and Wallis lived a fulfilled married life and never once reported to have misunderstandings.

The Duke of Windsor was extra protective of his wife. Even fighting with the royal family to honor Wallis with the title she was due. The royal family refused to honor the Duchess of Windsor with the courtesy title of Her Royal Highness, arguing that she did not deserve such title for being a commoner. The animosity between the Duke of Windsor and the British royal family lasted a lifetime. All because of chosing an unsuitable wife.

So what will you give up and how much sacrifice you will take in the name of love?

Edward and Wallis were just among the famous people who chose each other over duty and tradition. In European monarchy where marrying within their circle was a common practice prior to the 21st century, many blood royals were disinherited for taking wives outside their circle.

Two sons of Prince Knaud of Denmark were stripped of their princely title and inheritance and removed from the line of succession to the Danish throne for taking a commoner spouse. But they lived a happy life.

This story of love from star-crossed lovers or those who have been bound by different social classes and contrasting beliefs is also prevalent in Interfaith relationship. It's another costly affair that can make or break one's principles in life. Depends on the magnitude of emotions and balance of judgment, one will have to make a painful decision in life: either give up love or live a day to fight for it.

The most popular case is often on the contrasting belief. Like Edward and Wallis, a couple separated by different religious practices might also be confronted with the same difficult decision-making that requires a deep discernment process.

The roots of other religious belief on prohibiting their flock from involving into an interfaith relationship might be from the book of Deuteronomy in the old testament:

Deuteronomy 7:3-4
"You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons, or your sons to their daughters, for they would turn away your sons from following me and serve with another god".

The Roman Catholic Church also observed the above verse but had been sanitized to be more realistic in human life. As church is not a structure but a flock, it evolved as centuries turned to suit with the call of times.

Its position on interfaith marriages has evolved. Unlike popular public opinion that Catholics are not prohibited to marry someone from other religious group, the truth is Catholics are being prohibited through the decree of Tametsi issued by the Council of Trent in 1563.

However, succeeding Popes made some revision on the promulgation to make the church appear more human, pointing to what the book of Deuteronomy referred only as those heretics and Atheists (those who don't believe that God exists) whom Catholics should not marry.  As the church expanded in later centuries, the requirements to marry among Catholics became part of the Canon Law or the Church Law.

Catholics are currently permitted to marry someone from other religion provided they will seek permission from a bishop in their diocese, who will then begin the process of dispensation from disparity of cult (different worship) and determine later if the marriage can proceed.

Asking why the Pope can revise some practices, it is based on his role as supreme head of the universal church, successor of St.Peter and Vicar of Christ where he could not be deemed mistaken when giving a decree to the law of the church.

This role of Peter and his successors has scripture basis in the book of Matthew 16:18-20: And I say this to you, you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it and I will give you the keys of heaven. Whatever you will bind in earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose in earth shall loose in heaven".

This is a very complicated topic to discuss in this season of love. So I will just end it up here 😊 Going back to Edward VIII, later in his life when he was asked if he made the right decision of chosing Wallis Simpson over the British throne, his answer had been always yes.

Edward died in 1972 from throat cancer and was brought back to England to bury at Windsor Castle. His wife died in 1986. But until then, she was not received with dignity by the British royal family for creating an acrimonious crisis in 1936.

Such a great story of undying love, fighting odds to defy convention.

Indeed, one must give up something to take a part from another and make it a whole. One must take a highest form of self-sacrifice to conquer odds in love. After all, we live today, we live everyday and not tomorrow or the next day. Life is happening now. So let's live for the moment. Whatever life may bring ahead, at least we live for the day and enjoy the moment we spend with someone whom we feel comfortable talking or sharing stories with. That's life and the essence of Valentine's day.

             Happy Hearts Day everyone!

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