How Envious of Prince William his Great-Uncle Edward Would Have Been
In 1917, three years into the horrific carnage of World War I, the then Prince of Wales, an officer in the Grenadier Guards serving in France, met and fell in love with a pretty Red Cross nurse, Rosemary Leveson-Gower.
There is good reason to believe that Prince Edward – later King Edward VIII who, in 1936, abdicated the throne to marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson – would have married Rosemary if his father, King George V, had given his royal consent.
In 1917 however, the royal world was a very different place to the royal world of today.
Written in stone was the cardinal rule that royalty only married royalty, and though Rosemary was aristocratic – her father was the Duke of Sutherland – she was, in King George’s eyes, a commoner. What he would have thought of his great-great-grandson marrying the beautiful Kate, daughter of parents from a working-class background, can only be guessed at.
It is written into the British constitution that a Prince of Wales must have the monarch’s consent when he wishes to marry. As King George adamantly refused to sanction Edward’s marriage to Rosemary, Edward couldn’t marry her and two years later Rosemary married one of Edward’s friends, Eric, Viscount Ednam.
The author Rebecca Dean believes that his father’s refusal to allow him to marry the girl he loved had a traumatic effect on Edward whose name was never again linked with that of an unmarried woman. In her book The Golden Prince, published this month by HarperCollins, she melds fact with fiction to explore the poignant situation of Prince Edward when, as a very young man, he was denied personal happiness by not being allowed to marry the commoner he loved.
How Edward would have envied his great grand-nephew William.
And how different British history would have been if Edward, like William, had been given permission to marry the girl he gave his heart to as a young, idealistic prince.
Disclosure: I did not receive any form of compensation for this post.