Edward VIII shocked the world in 1936 when he gave up his throne to marry an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson
. After abdication he lived out his life as the Prince of Wales. The eldest son of King George V
, Edward (known to his family as David) served in World War I and was the first member of British royalty to become a pilot. His father died on January 20, 1936, making Edward king at age 41. But his brief reign as Edward VIII -- only 326 days in length -- was ended by his decision to abdicate; as a divorcee, Wallis Simpson was considered inappropriate to become queen. The official history of the Royal Family reports: "On 10 December 1936, Edward VIII executed an Instrument of Abdication which was given legal effect the following day, when Edward gave Royal Assent to His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act, by which Edward VIII and any children he might have were excluded from succession to the throne." In a famous radio address after renouncing the throne, Edward told the British public, "I have found it impossible to carry on the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge the duties of king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love." His brother Albert became King George VI
, while Edward was made Duke of Windsor in 1937, the year he married Simpson. He served as Governor of the Bahamas from 1940 to 1945, and spent the rest of his life living abroad, mainly in France. After their deaths, he and Simpson were buried on the grounds of Windsor Castle.