As the movie portrayed, King George ascended the throne as a result of his brother’s love affair with Wallis Simpson, an American woman who was still married to her second husband. Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson made no secret of their relationship, and on December 11, 1936, Edward abdicated the throne in order to marry her once her divorce was finalized. His decision avoided a constitutional crisis of all U.K. prime ministers resigning in opposition to the marriage. As Head of the Church of England, marriage to a twice-divorced woman would have also been obviously problematic.
In his abdication speech, Edward explained, “But 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.”
Let’s leave the story there, at the apex of romantic self-sacrifice. I often think about Jesus leaving the glory He had with the Father in order to take on human flesh. Analogies, of course, only go so far, and there’s no way to construe Edward as a Christ figure. His sacrifice for Wallis pales in comparison to what Christ did for His Bride, the Church. To quote Charles Wesley’s magnificent hymn:
He left His Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace!
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race.
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!