« The Retiring Years - 2 | Main | Episode 20 »

Feather's Miscellany: Edward: Act 1, Scene 4

Here's the fourth scene of Act One of John Waddington-Feather's play which concerns one of the most significant events in the history of the British Monarchy.

Time: Later that day.
Place: The dining room at Belvedere
Edward is entertaining two
Friends, Lady Thelma Furness and Mrs Wallis Simpson, whom
Lady Furness has just introduced to the Prince of Wales.

Edward: [To his butler] James, on no account are we to be disturbed. If the phone
rings, Iím out. Understand?

James: Perfectly, sir. [Exits]

Lady Furness: [Gaily] Not even if Parliament has been blown up, darling?

Edward: Some hopes, alas.

Mrs Simpson: But what if it were?
Edward: Why, then Iíd crack another bottle of champagne and weíd drink to the
health of whoever did it, for doing the country a great service. Poor
old Guy Fawkes! He ought to be made a saint.

Lady Furness: You say the most outrageous things, darling.

Edward: Iíve been born too late, my dear.

Mrs Simpson: Howís that, Your Royal Highness?

Edward: Earlier Kings were their own masters, for they had no Parliament, but
Parliament is now my master and I have to do what it decrees. Oh, to
have been born a Tudor! Iíd have had them all in the Tower and cut off
their heads in no time; every Jack man of them.

Mrs Simpson: But one day youíll be King and can do as you please.

Edward: Thatís a popular misconception you Americans have. No, the Crown is merely
a puppet of Parliament. Weíre figureheads, thatís all; here to smile and do
Parliamentís bidding.

Mrs Simpson: You sound aggrieved, Your Royal Highness.

Edward: [Leaning across and patting Mrs Simpsonís hand] Please, Mrs Simpson,
no more Royal Highnesses. Iím David to my friends only His Royal
Highness Prince Edward to the politicians.

Mrs Simpson: Then in that case, David, Iím Wallis.

Edward: Iíve heard so much about you and Iím so pleased that Thelma brought
you along. She said Iíd enjoy your company and she wasnít wrong.
Yíknow, Wallis, thereís too much standing on dignity in Britain, too
much class-consciousness and pigeon-holing people. We ought to be
more like you Americans, less formal and more easy-going, taking folk
as we find them.

Lady Furness: But your dignity and poise are exactly why we admire you British. You have
something we lost when we cut free. Weíve no aristocracy
only self-made millionaires. Oh, how we hanker after your dignity and
charm, the traditions you have.

Edward: And our fish and chips? [They laugh]

Mrs Simpson: Iíd never have associated the Prince of Wales with fish and chips.

Edward: Theyíre just as tasty to the palate of a Prince as to a peasant.

Lady Furness: Your Prime Minister would be shocked to hear you call the working class,
ďpeasantsĒ. Heís their champion, isnít he?

Edward: Heís the first Labour Prime Minister Ė and itís ironic that we have
the highest number of unemployed the countryís known. I had such

high hopes the Socialists would improve the lot of the common man.

Mrs Simpson: The Socialists under Herr Hitler in Germany have almost got rid
of unemployment . I admire him greatly.

Edward: Iím a great admirer of Herr Hitler, too.

Mrs Simpson: Heís lifted Germany right out of the mess they were in.

Lady Furness: But heís also upset many people, especially the aristocrats and
land owners. I can tell you, inside Germany thereís a great deal of
opposition to him and the Nazis.

Edward: The aristocrats are merely getting their come-uppance under Herr
Hitler, and about time, too. Itís the ordinary people who are reaping
the benefits. We desperately need some kind of leader like him here in
Britain to get rid of our class system.

Mrs Simpson: I didnít expect that coming from the Prince of Wales.

Edward: Youíll understand me more when you get to know me better, Wallis.

Mrs Simpson: [Flirting] And I certainly intend to do that, David.

Edward: [Raising his glass} Then hereís to our better acquaintance, Wallis.
[They clink glasses] And hereís to you, Thelma, for introducing us.

Lady Furness: Iím sure you two darlings will get on just fine.

Edward: [Flirting} I get on fine with all beautiful women, Thelma, and you
should know. Two of the most beautiful are dining with me tonight.

Lady Furness: Flattery, darling, will get you everywhere.

Edward: A manís not worth his salt if he canít flatter a beautiful woman.

Mrs Simpson: And youíre certainly a charmer, David.

Edward: That may be, but youíre worth charming for youíre a very attractive
lady, Wallis. Youíve bewitched me already.

Mrs Simpson: But you barely know me.

Edward: I certainly intend getting to know you better.

Lady Furness: I do believe youíve made a conquest, Wallis, over dinner this evening.

Edward: And Iíll be completely in thrall by the time the dessert arrives.

Mrs Simpson: [Smiling at Edward] Youíll find me an easy mistress, David.

Edward: And Iíll be your devoted slave.

Lady Furness: Well, well, you are quick off the mark, Wallis. Look well after him
while Iím away, darling.

Mrs Simpson: I promise you, I will, Thelma. I will devote myself to him entirely.

Lady Furness: Whoíd have thought things would have moved so fast when
I introduced you to each other tonight.

Edward: Iíd seen Wallis from afar long before tonight. Thatís why I asked you
to bring her.. I wanted the vision made real.

Lady Furness: David, darling, youíre incorrigible, but youíll find Wallis good company.

Edward: Iíll need good company the way things are here and how Iím
being got at by the Prime Minister and the rest. Theyíre nothing but
a bunch of old fuddy-duddies still living in the nineteenth
century. Parliamentís a talking-shop, thatís all. They argue and argue but
do nothing. Now if we had Herr Hitler as Prime Minister things would
be different. Heís a man I could really work with. [Sips his drink] I
hear youíre very friendly with the German ambassador, Wallis.

Mrs Simpson: Joachim von Ribbentrop?

Edward: The same. Whatís he like?

Mrs Simpson: Heís attractive and heís quite interesting. Like all Nazis heís bursting with
energy to get things done and heís very loyal to Herr Hitler. Thatís
what impresses me about them all. The Nazis are so loyal to each other
and work so well together. The ordinary people adore Herr Hitler.

Lady Furness: But when I was last over there, I did hear whispers from his opponents
that Herr Hitlerís inexperience would soon put him out of office.

Edward: Itís the old guard; the aristocracy and church who are against him and
neither count for anything. Theyíre has-beens. Theyíve had their day
just as theyíve had it here.

Mrs Simpson: Iím surprised you say that, David. One day youíll be head of the
English Church.

Edward: A Church which is on its way out. It counts for little now, because it
still lives in the past and is against innovation. Itís still in the
Dark Ages. I tell you, Wallis, when I become King I wonít be pushed
around like my father by a bunch of people who know nothing about real
life. What do bishops know whose entire lives have been spent inside
the cosy confines of the Church. Unless it changes the Church will be a
non-entity in Britain within a generation. Thousands already go
nowhere near it.

Mrs Simpson: You may be right. I know from bitter experience. Once youíre
divorced youíre an outcast as far as the Church is concerned. They
donít want to know you.

Lady Furness: [Uncomfortable at the drift of conversation] I canít say I agree with all
you say, Wallis, but letís change the subject before we get in too deep.
We donít want to spoil the evening arguing, do we, darlings? Say, have
you seen the new talking movies with Greta Garbo?

Edward: Yes. Now thereís a beauty Ė and what a voice!

Mrs Simpson: I just loved her opening line. [She mimics the deep husky voice of
Garbo] ďGimme a whisky, baby, and make it strong!Ē [They laugh]

Edward: Wallis, you ought to have been an actress.

Mrs Simpson: I may well be one day, David.

Edward: Youíve certainly got the good looks.

Mrs Simpson: [Smiling] Thank you, David. [She raises her glass to him]

Edward: And thatís not flattery. You are good-looking, Wallis, as pretty as any
film star and that goes for you, too, Thelma. You know, Iím very fussy about
my lady friends. They must be intelligent as well as beautiful. I meet too
many empty headed dolls who throw themselves at me.

Mrs Simpson: And I go for good-looking men who are men of the world. You score on both
points, David, but Iíve never thrown myself at any man. Theyíve
always come to me.

Lady Furness: We all find you attractive, darling David.

Edward: And not simply because Iím the Prince of Wales?

Mrs Simpson: Well, that does help a little. [They laugh]

Edward: Iím pleased to hear it. Iím pleased to hear anything nice said about me
by ladies like yourself. It does my ego a power of good.

Mrs Simpson: Good job weíre alone. The press would have a field day if they overheard
us speaking like this.

Edward: I assure you there are no ears at the keyholes for my butler is discretion itself.

Mrs Simpson: You have great faith in your staff, but I canít say the same for my servants.
Theyíre the ears and eyes of the papers and leak everything I say and do.
When theyíve nothing to report, they make things up and are paid for
any bit of scandal.

Lady Furness: Darling, you ought to take a cut and work hand in glove with them, like
myself . Half of what I tell them isnít true, but their readers lap it up and
Iím paid well so everyone is happy.

Edward: So hereís to the press. [They raise their glasses and toast.] When our
memoirs appear we three will make a fortune.


Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.