King Edward VIII Begins His Reign With Two Provocative Gestures On The First Day

On the first day of his reign, 21st January 1936, Edward VIII did two things which came to be seen as unnecessarily provocative. They gave a flavour of the headstrong contempt for the established order that was to mark his time as King.

Edward had a confrontational and unhappy relationship with his father, King George V. His father carped demeaningly and publicly when Edward departed from the dress code of idiotic complexity that he followed with near obsessive precision. Inevitably this grated severely on Edward's patience as did his father's happy adherence to Sandringham Time, the quaint practice instituted by Edward VII by which all the clocks on the estate were kept half an hour fast so as to extend the day's shooting in winter. Almost Edward VIII's first act as King was to order the clocks to be moved into line with the rest of the country. It was unimportant but tactlessly hasty.

His other unfortunate act gave a worrying foretaste of the issue which was to cost him the throne. He invited Mrs. Simpson to watch informally the ceremonial Proclamation of his Accession at St. James's Palace with him. By tradition the new sovereign does not participate in this ceremony so he and she were out of sight but the news spread quickly around Court insiders. It was not appreciated and it badly dented hopes that she would be kept as a discreet mistress entirely out of the public eye..