Dignity, like the Imperial mantle which is placed upon England's King at his Coronation, clothed Edward VIII and his every act last week after the decision of His Majesty to abdicate and become not "Mr. Windsor" but Prince Edward, newly created Duke of Windsor, and still Knight of the Most Ancient & Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Knight of the Most Illustrious Order of St. Patrick, Knight Grand Commander of the Most Exalted Star of India, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Grand Master of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael & St. George, Grand Master of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Knight of the Golden Fleece of Spain, Knight of the Order of the Annunziata of Italy.
Scarcely anyone failed to tune in on Edward VIII as he took leave of his country or to read within a few hours the simple words with which His Royal Highness said good-by to very nearly all except "the woman I love."
Prince Edward was scrupulous not to betray his class, and to do and say all he could to uphold the Kingdom and the Empire, giving no opportunity to irresponsible groups of the masses to harm Britain. Long after His Majesty's instrument of abdication was signed, sealed, published and in course of certain enactment by Parliament (see p. 17) one of the greatest mass gatherings in British history was still roaring outside of Buckingham Palace, "WE WANT EDWARD!" He was not there.
Neither as King Edward, nor later last week as Prince Edward, did the eldest son of the Royal House enter London. This idol of the British masses (for such His Majesty unquestionably was) vanished, and after a little space other idols (for such King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and crown princess Elizabeth will soon be) were substituted. The basic English truth which emerged is that the Kingdom long ago became and is today neither a democracy nor a monarchy but an efficient oligarchy, more or less benevolent. Its symbol is the Crown, but the really effective British crowns are the top hats worn by Stanley Baldwin and a few hundred others. They rule over millions of British soft hats, tens of millions of caps and hundreds of millions of Indian noddles. Members of the British Royal Family have long had this basic reality embedded in their natures, and last week in King Edward VIII's hour of sorest indecision it tipped the scales. He left England as the eldest son who has locked a rattling skeleton in the Empire's closet and thrown away the key. Not ungrateful to opportune Winston Churchill, who had offered and sought to form a party of "King's men" to fight the issue out in Parliament, His Majesty rewarded this active British son of a U. S. mother last week with a discreetly private lunch.
With Prince Edward supplying all necessary dignity, the British Broadcasting Corp. found it possible to send out a "children's hour" message to the moppets of the Empire, a description in words of one and two syllables of the relations between Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson. Only a few days prior these had been so "scandalous" (because undignified) that they were supposed to be something which only a few nasty-minded British adults would stoop to read in the "American press."*