Edward VIII (1894 – 1972) was King for 326 days, from January 1936 until he abdicated (gave up his title) in December the same year. He was the eldest son of King George V and Queen Mary.
Edward (who was confusingly known to the family as David!) had a relatively happy childhood. His mother doted on him and he was adored by his grandmother, Queen Victoria. He went to the Royal Navy College in Dartmouth, spent time in France and Germany (which he loved) and also went to Oxford where he spent more time hunting, partying, womanising and drinking than studying.
He was a dashing, good looking, brave young man. When the First World War broke out he joined the army and was keen to serve on the front line, but was kept against his will behind the lines. After the war his father capitalised on his "Hollywood" good looks and personality by sending him on hugely successful tours of Canada, America, New Zealand and Australia - but Edward's contempt for court protocol and customs, and lack of a stable relationship, infuriated his parents. He was also suspected of being a Nazi sympathiser, and at least two of his close friends were passionate supporters of Hitlers. Consequently George V excluded Edward from any real responsibilities. His father predicted that his reign would be a disaster for the country and that he would "ruin himself within 12 months".
When Edward became King he didn't change his ways at all. He continued to live in his house near Sunningdale, sacked his father's staff, ignored deadlines and was generally undisciplined and irresponsible. Early in 1936 he proposed to Wallace Simpson, an American divorcee who was in the process of getting another divorce from her second husband. The marriage was opposed by the Prime Minister - not only because he believed the people would never accept a divorcee with two living ex-husbands as the King's consort, but also because Edward, as head of the Church of England, should not marry a divorcee. After months of negotiations, Edward chose to abdicate, and his younger brother Albert (Bertie) found himself king, choosing the name George VI.
Edward married Wallace Simpson in 1937 and was created Duke of Windsor. He spent time in France and Germany but, still suspected of being a Nazi sympathiser, he was sent to The Bahamas as Governor during the Second World War. After the war he retired to France.