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Edward VIII made up ‘cruel’ rumour about Queen Mother

Queen Mother's actions at Margaret's funeral revealed by insider

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Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry his long-term lover Wallis Simpson — an American divorcee — who was deemed unsuitable for the role of royal wife. When Edward stepped down, his younger brother Prince Albert, who was affectionately known as Bertie, inherited the throne and became King George VI. His wife, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, became Queen Elizabeth and reportedly never forgave her brother-in-law for putting her family in this position. From then on, it was known that Elizabeth and Edward’s relationship was hostile, but some have alleged the tensions started bubbling long before. 

In the 2016 BBC documentary-drama ‘Royal Wives At War’, which is said to be based on letters and memoirs, some commentators claimed Elizabeth wanted Edward for herself and only settled for Albert because Wallis got in the way.

Lady Colin Campbell, who did a stint in the ‘I’m a Celeb’ jungle late in 2015, claimed: “She [Elizabeth] tried to marry David [family name for Edward VIII]. David wasn’t interested in her. He liked them slender, sleek and svelte, like Wallis.”

She added: “There was a malicious element to Elizabeth’s treatment of Wallis. I think it was vindictive, vicious and she set out to destroy them as a couple.”

However, royal historian and author Gareth Russell has rubbished the previous claims, alleging that it was Edward who started the rumour. 

Mr Russell, whose book ‘Do Let’s Have Another Drink! The Dry Wit and Fizzy Life of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’ recently hit shelves, was a guest on this week’s episode of Kinsey Schofield’s To Di For Daily podcast. 

The pair discussed the historian’s new book and Ms Schofield, also an accomplished royal commentator, asked about the rumours surrounding Elizabeth and Edward’s relationship. 

Mr Russell said: “I do discuss it in the book, but I don’t have much patience with it. First of all, it was the brother-in-law who started this theory years later…He’d been really low with her by the stage, and he was saying the reason why she never liked Wallis is because she was really in love with him.

“What I discovered was that they [Edward and Elizabeth] really did not spend enough time together, before she said yes to his brother, for her to have been in love with him. They sort of bumped into each other at one or two parties.”

Ms Schofield added it was “just a cruel rumour that somebody made up to make themselves look better or feel better about their circumstances.” 

As part of his research for the book, the historian looked at Elizabeth’s diaries and letters at the time of her and Bertie’s courtship. Some believed the London-born aristocrat was gunning for a higher-ranking title by allegedly pursuing a romantic relationship with Edward, who was destined to be King, but Mr Russell claimed: “She didn’t actually want to marry into the Royal Family at all.” 

He continued: “In fact, one of the reasons she kept pulling back from her future husband was she said: ‘This is not just a marriage to him, it’s a marriage to the public and to the country, and I will never have a full private life again.’ 

“She said to her younger brother: ‘I felt a door close behind me that will never open again,’ in terms of having a private life. So the idea that she was secretly in love with her brother-in-law…is completely unsustainable.”

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Mr Russell found that Elizabeth and Edward were “recorded as being in the same room three times” before she accepted Bertie’s proposal. The author studied the former King’s timetable during this period, when Elizabeth was a debutante, and found that he was “out of the country for months on end” conducting royal tours. 

He concluded: “So the idea that she settled for Bertie, or that she was secretly in love with the elder brother, is just completely unfounded from a documentary and ontological point of view.”

Others have affirmed Mr Russel’s claims, saying that Elizabeth’s alleged romantic feelings for her brother-in-law have no historical or factual backing. 

Following the release of the BBC documentary, leading historian Andrew Roberts told The Mail on Sunday: “The relationship between these two women is dramatic and extraordinary, without the BBC inventing rubbish of this kind. No reputable historian believes the Queen Mother was ever in love with the future Edward VIII, let alone tried to marry him.”

Tory peer Lord Tebbit said: “It sounds to me like somebody is making up fairy tales… It’s not just that it’s hurtful, it’s just that it deposits a story of historical events which was just not so.”

However, the Queen Mother’s dislike for the Duke of Windsor is well-documented. In a letter to her mother-in-law, Queen Mary, Elizabeth reportedly referred to the American divorcee as a “naughty woman”.

In the Channel 5 documentary ‘The Queen Mother: The Reluctant Queen’, royal biographer Philip Ziegler said: “I remember saying to her once: ‘Why have you been so resolute in keeping the Windsors out of Britain?’

“She said: ‘You can’t have two kings, can you?’ I knew what she was saying. His presence would have been a potential embarrassment and even quite dangerous.”

After his abdication, Edward moved overseas with Wallis. After their marriage, they were known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. They remained in exile in France until their deaths. 

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