As just about everyone is aware, this week Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they would be “stepping back” from their roles as senior royals.
The move was a total shock and caught everyone (including the Queen herself) off guard.
While the move is shocking, there is a little bit of precedent for royals going rogue.
King Edward VIII famously abdicated the throne on December 11, 1936. He had been king for less than a year and renounced his position of power so he could marry his girlfriend, American-born Wallis Simpson. On December 12, his younger brother (and Elizabeth’s dad) was named King George VI.
King Edward VIII and Wallis fell in love while she was still married to her second husband, Ernest Simpson. Ernest was an English American businessman, and he and Wallis lived together in London. The royal family did not approve of Edward’s choice in a mistress, and they definitely did not want him to marry Wallis.
Edward planned to discuss everything with his father, but then George V died — leaving Edward as king. Yikes. Though Edward was very popular with the public, the Church of England and politicians in Britain would not approve of their king marrying an American who had been divorced twice.
Since there was no resolution to his cause, King Edward VIII abdicated the throne. He and Wallis moved to France and lived throughout Europe.
The case differs from what Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are doing now, and the two have been careful to state that they are “stepping back.” Who knows if the royal Sussexes will want to come back into the fold down the road?
If anything, we can all certainly be sure that charting a unique path is not new to the royal family.
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