Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson

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Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson

Prince Edward abdicated the throne for Wallis Simpson.

Express/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images

One of history's famous lines, uttered Dec. 11, 1936, comes from His Royal Highness Prince Edward: "I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love" [source: Royal BC Museum]. Here's his story.

Edward was heir to the British throne in 1931 when he met Wallis Warfield Simpson at a party. Although it wasn't love at first sight for either, the two traveled in the same social circles and slowly their attraction grew. But there was one problem, and it was a big one. Simpson could never be considered an eligible match for Edward, as she was both married and an American. Pressure on the couple increased when, in 1936, King George V -- Edward's father -- died. Edward was king [source: Boykin].

Souvenirs were quickly created for Edward's coronation, but it never happened [source: Royal BC Museum]. England's prime minister told Edward that even if Simpson divorced, she could never become queen or even his consort -- the term for the spouse or companion of a reigning monarch. But Edward loved Wallis so much, he quickly chose her over the crown, abdicating the throne. (It was during his abdication, broadcast by radio, that he spoke the famous line above.) His younger brother became King George VI, and Edward was stripped of his title of Duke of Windsor. Simpson did get divorced in 1937, and the two married. They lived the rest of their lives quietly in France [sources: Royal BC Museum, Boykin].

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