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20 January, 2020 00:00 00 AM
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British royal family’s history of abdication and divorces

AFP, London
British royal family’s history of abdication and divorces

The announcement Saturday that Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are to give up their titles and stop receiving public funds is only the latest instalment in a royal soap opera that has gripped Britain and the world. The 1936 abdication of Edward VIII 326 days into his reign remains the biggest scandal in modern royal history and caused a worldwide sensation.

Britain’s brief king provoked a constitutional crisis when he stepped down in order to marry the twice-divorced US socialite Wallis Simpson.

The union was deemed impossible while Edward was monarch and head of the Church of England, which at the time refused to remarry divorcees while their former spouse was still alive.

Edward was the first monarch in the 1,000-year history of the British Crown to give up his throne of his own free will. His brother King George VI replaced him on the throne, and Edward—who married Simpson in 1937 -- was subsequently ostracised by the rest of the Windsor family until the late 1960s.

He died in 1972.

Queen Elizabeth II’s fun-loving younger sister, Princess Margaret, also sparked a firestorm with her choice for marriage. In 1952, the then-22-year-old began a romance with her late father’s divorced equerry, former Royal Air Force officer Peter Townsend.

The couple’s wish to marry prompted a battle between the government and the public—which was seen to be sympathetic to the union—with the queen caught in the middle. Margaret was eventually persuaded to abandon the relationship, under the threat of losing her royal position, and instead married photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960. They divorced in 1978.

The queen memorably described 1992 as an “annus horribilis” after three of her children’s marriages crumbled. Heir to the throne Prince Charles’ split from Princess Diana after 11 years of marriage caused a media sensation.

The princess then rocked the monarchy by leaking shocking details of palace life to author Andrew Morton for his 1992 book “Diana: Her True Story - In Her Own Words”. Around the same time the queen’s second son Prince Andrew separated from wife Sarah Ferguson, whom he had married six years earlier.

Meanwhile Princess Anne, the reigning monarch’s only daughter, finalised her divorce from first husband Mark Phillips following their separation in 1989.

The popular princess died in a high-speed car crash in a Paris tunnel in August 1997. For the next week leading up to her spectacular funeral, Britain was plunged into an unprecedented outpouring of grief which shook the monarchy.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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