Royal Divorce down the Ages

At the dawn of humanity, marriage was deemed to be sacrosanct. Divorce in most societies – especially at the instigation of a female – was not permitted. Royalty – men only – were usually entitled to have a lover as their wife was usually married for political and not affection reasons. In these circumstances, divorce was never considered as the wife was the baby production machine whereas romantic love was reserved for their mistress. What happened when the wife could not deliver a male heir or, like in more modern times, when mistresses were no longer tolerated, how did the king or the royalty get their divorce? 

This blog dissects four vastly different royal divorces each of which exposes much about the milieu in which each occurred. Included in this blog will be the vignette on how [Bessiewallis] Wallis Simpson obtained her divorce from her second husband in order to marry King Edward VIII.

Main picture: Anne Boleyn in the Tower awaiting execution by Edouard Cibot (1799–1877)

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King Edward VIII: Once a King

King Edward VIII is notorious for two reasons. The first, the reason for his abdication in 1936, was his love for an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. The second, and for the most part unproved, was his pro-Nazi views during WW2. The first is fact but is there any substance to the second allegation?

In terms of the primogeniture rules of succession then applicable, young Edward, or David as he was known to his siblings, would become the next king of England. By the throw of the dice, Edward who was ideally suited to this role for he possessed the common touch was the heir presumptive. Unlike his parents, he was unafraid of being seen by the commoner.

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