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Edward and Mrs Simpson (1978)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Episode 3: 'The New King' (originally transmitted on ITV, 22/11/1978) Written by Simon Raven, directed by Waris Hussein

Following the death of George V, his eldest son Edward becomes the new King. After being sworn-in, he asks Wallis Simpson to marry him, despite the problems that they are bound to encounter. Edward and his brother stand vigil over the body of their father. At a weekend party at the Fort, his country retreat, Edward gives Wallis a large diamond broach. The party guests later help Edward clear the grounds, chop wood and plant new trees.

Edward starts taking elaborate steps to spend more time with Wallis, neglecting his official duties. Ernest Simpson speaks to Edward and decides to let Wallis have a divorce. Edward takes Wallis to see Walter Monckton to help arrange her divorce. Monkton asks her if she plans to marry again, but she denies it. Monckton asks her to delay the divorce in that case so as to reduce the possibility of a scandal surrounding her friendship with the King, but she refuses. Monckton is convinced she wants to marry the King despite her denials and asks for the advice of Winston Churchill, who is also disturbed by her decision to divorce her husband.

Edward takes Wallis and their friends on a cruise and, at Anthony Eden's urging, goes through Yugoslavia and not Italy, to avoid appearing to support Mussolini. Edward accepts, although he personally admires Mussolini. Edward and Wallis are greeted with great affection wherever they go and it becomes clear that their affair is being widely reported in the press outside of the UK. Towards the end of the holiday, Edward becomes depressed after a meeting with the King of Greece and his mistress at which a comment is made about the fact that the Greek King could not marry a commoner. Edward's friends start to wonder about the possible consequences of his affair with Wallis

Upon their return, Edward infuriates his mother by inviting Wallis to Balmoral and then upsets his staff when he calls off an official engagement just so that he can meet her when she arrives in Scotland. At a formal reception, Edward introduces Mrs Simpson to his brother Albert and his wife Elizabeth. They treat her coolly and Albert reprimands Edward for his recent behaviour. Edwards speaks to Monkton and assures him that he will manage to fulfil his public duties if he will be allowed to have time to himself, out of the public spotlight.