Program Signed by King Edward VIII as Prince, and by His Strongest Supporter in the Abdication Crisis, Winston Churchill

“The Way of the World” is a play by William Congreve. Its main character is Lady Wishfort, a character type with a long tradition in drama – the over-eager, man-seeking widow. But she also has a sympathetic character, one that kept this play popular for decades at the start of the 20th...

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Program Signed by King Edward VIII as Prince, and by His Strongest Supporter in the Abdication Crisis, Winston Churchill

“The Way of the World” is a play by William Congreve. Its main character is Lady Wishfort, a character type with a long tradition in drama – the over-eager, man-seeking widow. But she also has a sympathetic character, one that kept this play popular for decades at the start of the 20th century. Nigel Playfair was an actor-manager of the Lyric Theater in London, and he produced the play in 1924. One night, both the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) and Winston Churchill (later his greatest defender) were in the audience.

The program for the play, signed by Edward as “Edward P”, and also by Churchill. An extremely rare combination of signatures.

In 1936, the abdication crisis arose when Edward wanted to marry the American divorcee, Walls Simpson. Churchill became Edward’s strongest supporter, believing that he was entitled to choose a wife, and that he would make a great King. He argued in the King’s favor in Parliament, and criticized  Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin for pressuring Edward to abdicate.  The general consensus among his political rivals was that Churchill was planning, if the situation arose, to form a “King’s Party” in support of Edward staying on the throne. But the King was not interested in any of that happening, so it didn’t.

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