King George's Brother Edward Abdicated The Throne & 'The Crown' Will Re-Visit His Daring Choice

The new Netflix drama series The Crown chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth II after her marriage in 1947. A few years later, she was crowned Queen, but got that position as an indirect result of a family scandal. Why did King George's brother Edward abdicate the throne? Maintaining relationships while in a royal position has always been a source for interesting stories, and Elizabeth had a very intriguing one in her family's recent past.

In 1936, according to the New York Times, King Edward VIII proposed to the American socialite Wallis Simpson, a soon-to-be twice divorcée. At the time, the Church of England did not allow divorced individuals to remarry if their ex-spouses were still alive. This was only overturned by the Church in 2002, according to the Church's official website, by the way. As King of England, Edward was the head of the Church, so that was a problem. Because of that, Simpson was not considered a proper royal consort. He even suggested that they have a morganic marriage, in which Simpson would receive no titles or property, but the Prime Minister rejected the idea.

So, in order to marry the woman he wanted to, Edward gave up the crown, after only 11 months, and became the first to abdicate voluntarily. Sounds romantic, right? In Edward's abdication speech, he said, "you must believe me when I tell you that I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love." Edward and Wallis lived the rest of their lives in partial, mostly self-imposed exile in Europe, settling down in Paris.

Edward's story has been told on screen before, most recently on Downton Abbey, Dancing On The Edge, and in The King's Speech — which was about his brother, George VI. On The Crown, he will be played Alex Jennings. Since this series is taking place after Edward's juicer life events, he will most likely serve as a guide to Elizabeth. Edward is what happens when you choose love over the crown. When Season 1 of The Crown takes place, his scandalous decision still looms over the royal family, including Queen Elizabeth herself.

Images: Alex Bailey/Netflix