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Feather's Miscellany: Edward - Act 5, Scene 2

John Waddington-Feather continues his compulsively readable play about a King's love which cost him his throne.

Time: November 1936
Place: Fort Belvedere, the Kingís office. Edward has just returned
from Portland where heís been inspecting the Fleet. His butler is awaiting him.

James: I trust you enjoyed your stay in Portland with the Fleet, Your Majesty.

Edward: I certainly did, James. I met many old shipmates from my time in the Navy
and talked over old times; but best of all I was free of all my worries
here. Portland and Palace might be in two different worlds.

James: [Handing Edward a letter] I was asked to give you this, sir as soon as
you returned. Itís from your secretary, Major Hardinge, and itís
marked ĎUrgentí.

Edward: Into it as soon as I get back. No rest for the wicked, eh? I wonder what
Hardinge has to tell me thatís so urgent. [Opens the letter and starts
reading; then sits down at his desk clearly upset] Good God!

James: I hope itís nothing serious, sir.

Edward: Itís about as serious as anything can be.

James: Iím sorry to hear it, sir, but is there anything Your Majesty requires before
Mrs Simpson arrives this evening?

Edward: [Still poring over the letter, but looks up] Iím sorry; what did you
say, James?

James: I wondered if there was anything you needed before Mrs Simpson came.

Edward: Please show her in here the minute she arrives, James. Iíve much
to discuss with her before the Prime Minister comes. Heís arriving shortly
after Mrs Simpson and whatever happens you mustnít let them meet. Hold
him off till I give you the word, James.

James: I understand, sir. Will that be all?

Edward: Make sure you bring in plenty of whisky when the Prime Minister sees
me. Iíll need it! [James bows and exits. Edward remains seated holding
the letter] So, itís come to this. Theyíre pointing a gun at my head and Iím
to obey orders or go. I can hardly take it in. [Looks again at the letter and
reads aloud] ďSir, As Your Majestyís private secretary, I feel it my duty
to bring before you immediately the following facts: the Prime Minister
and senior members of Government are meeting today to discuss
the Governmentís action in light of the serious situation which is
developing regarding Mrs Simpson. The silence of the press will not
be maintained much longer, then news of your intention to marry Mrs
Simpson once sheís divorced will become public knowledge. The resignation
of the Government in that eventuality is being discussed and I have reason
to know that your majesty will find it impossible to form a new one.
If Your Majesty will permit me to say so, there is only one step
which holds any prospect of avoiding this dangerous situation, and that is
for Mrs Simpson to go abroad without further delay. The press is
becoming increasingly hostile so this is a matter of great urgency.í

[Edward stares at the letter a moment, then stands and begins pacing the
room angrily] What damned cheek! What bloody impudence, telling me to
get rid of the woman I intend to marry, just like that! Who do they think
they are? [Looks at the letter] And why is Hardinge being to damned
formal? Itís not like him at all. Could this be the final ultimatum from on
high? Thatís it. Hardinge has been seen by Baldwin, whoís been pressurized
by the rest of them to get rid of Wallis; but theyíre mistaken. Nothing
will separate us now and Iíll tell Baldwin that to his face when I see
him tonight. [Knock on the door then the butler appears]

James: Mrs Simpson is here, sir.

Edward: Send her in at once, James. [James opens the door for Mrs Simpson, then
bows and exits after sheís entered. She and Edward embrace]

Mrs Simpson: Whatís the matter, darling. You look agitated.

Edward: [Handing her the letter] Read that and youíll see why. [Mrs Simpson reads
the letter while Edward watches her closely.

Mrs Simpson: [Handing the letter back. Edward throws it on his desk] Well, darling, to use
a good old fashioned American expression, it looks as if theyíre about to
give you the works. [Looks at him intently] And are you going to give me up?

Edward: Like hell I am! You mean more to me than crown, country or empire.
You mean more to me than life itself and Iíll do anything to keep you now.

Mrs Simpson [Relieved] Darling! [Embraces him] So whatís your next move, David?

Edward: The Prime Minister is coming here later and I shall tell him straight out that if
the Government is so opposed to our marriage, then Iím prepared to go.

Mrs Simpson: Please donít act too hastily, darling. There must be some other way for us
to be together after your coronation.

Edward: After? Youíre going to be at my side as my wife when Iím crowned,
else Iím not crowned at all. [Points to the letter] I donít believe there is
any other way after this. Iíll see if I can drum up support for us in the press.
If thereís enough pressure from the people for me to be their King and
be married to you, then perhaps the Government will back down. Iíll
contact Beaverbrook. Heís always been loyal to me and if anyone can sway
the people in my favour, he can.
.
Mrs Simpson: And if he canít?

Edward: Then Iíll abdicate.

Mrs Simpson: Darling, it may not come to that. We could keep quiet about my divorce
then get married quietly after your coronation when my divorce is
made absolute; then perhaps you could appeal to the people over
the radio. Youíve many loyal admirers out there, I know.

Edward: But theyíre not in Parliament, and it will be the politicians who
decide whether I go or stay Ė not the people.

Mrs Simpson: And if they insist you give me up?

Edward: Then I go and begin a new life with you. [He kisses her. Knock on
door] Yes?

[Enter James]

James: The Prime Minister has arrived, Your Majesty.

Edward: Then show Mrs Simpson to the lounge. [To Mrs Simpson] James will
look after you there, darling, till Baldwin leaves. [She exits with
James. Edward picks up the letter again and studies it] They must
have turned the heat on Hardinge for him to write so formally. It begins
to look as if itís all cut and dried, but weíll see what Baldwin has to
say. [James knocks again and announces the Prime Minister. Edward
greets him then motions him to a chair near the whisky table]

Edward: It must be a matter of urgency for you to request seeing me so quickly,
Prime Minister.

Baldwin: It is, sir. Very urgent.

Edward: I can hazard a guess why youíve come, so let us come to the point,
Prime Minister. I understand the Cabinet and yourself are concerned
about an imminent constitutional crisis blowing up over my proposed marriage to Mrs Simpson.

Baldwin: That is correct, sir. We are very disturbed that you will marry a woman
who is divorced.

Edward: [Flippantly] So whatís the problem, Prime Minister?

Baldwin: The difficulty arises from the fact that whoever you marry will have to
be Queen, and we believe the people will not tolerate a divorcee on
the throne. So you see our dilemma, sir.

Edward: And doubtless youíve consulted Archbishop Lang?

Baldwin: The Archbishop, as a member of the House of Lords, is always
approached where matters of moral guidance are needed. Itís done in
the public interest and as a matter of etiquette.

Edward: And my marrying Mrs Simpson would not be in the public interest, eh?

Baldwin: That is for you to decide, sir, but we believe it would not be.

Edward: Regardless of the fact that as King I find in her all the womanly qualities
I desire in the wife I want to marry and want to be my Queen.

Baldwin: That is your privilege, sir, but equally it is our duty to preserve the
integrity of the Crown. Marriage to a woman twice divorced
would seriously reflect on how the monarchy is regarded, not only by
the British public but in the Empire at large. They expect their King
to marry a woman beyond reproach.

Edward: And Mrs Simpson in their view is not beyond reproach even though she
is the woman I love?

Baldwin: Itís not for me to pass judgement on your private life, sir, but that
will certainly be judged by the population at large both here and
abroad. That is their right, just as it is their right to elect or unseat me
for what they perceive as right or wrong in my private or public life
as Prime Minister. I have no say in that, sir, no more than you do as King.

Edward: So the entire question doesnít simply hang on my right to marry like
other men?

Baldwin: You are not other men, sir. You are the King.

Edward: And what would your reaction be if I appealed to the nation over the
radio for their support?

Baldwin: That would be by-passing Parliament and would be unconstitutional.
I would forbid it, sir.

[A momentís silence]

Edward: So Iím stymied whatever I say or do, and you and I reach stalemate,
Prime Minister. Nevertheless, I intend marrying Mrs Simpson as soon
as she is free to marry. If Iím able to marry her as King Ė well and
good Ė and Iím sure Iíd make a better King with her as my wife.
However, if the Government oppose my marriage to her, then I
am prepared to go.

Baldwin: [Pause] What you have said is most grievous, sir, and I canít comment
on it till Iíve conferred with my colleagues. Tonight you have gone further
than I expected, but you must have been considering this for some time.

Edward: I have only spoken my mind, Prime Minister. I can do no other.

Baldwin: Indeed, sir. [Rises to go]

Edward: Wonít you take a drink before you leave, Mr Baldwin?

Baldwin: No thank you. Not this time. I need a clear head for you have given
me much food for thought. But Iím most grateful to you, sir, and
relieved that you have spoken so openly.

[They move to door]

Edward: I have always valued your advice, you know, but Iím sorry I
cannot accede to any idea of giving up Mrs Simpson, whom I intend
to marry whether Iím King or not. Please inform your Cabinet of that.

Baldwin: I will convey your decision to the Cabinet, sir, and in due course let
you have their reply. Good evening, Your Majesty. [Bows and
exits. Enter James]

James: Shall I inform Mrs Simpson that the Prime Minister has left,
Your Majesty?

Edward: Yes, James, and bring her straight here. [Exit James] The die is cast
and where do I go now? Affairs have moved rapidly tonight, faster than
I expected and the future now lies in the hands of the gods Ė and
the Cabinet. Yet I feel strangely relieved, as if a burden has suddenly
been lifted from me. Iíll have to tell my mother and the rest of the
family, and thatís not going to be easy, for I know what their
reactions will be Iíll be an outcast for the rest of my life. [Enter
Mrs Simpson, whom he embraces warmly] Well, darling, Iíve done
it! Iíve told the Prime Minister Iím going to marry you come hell or
high water as soon as youíre free.

Mrs Simpson: Darling David! And what now?

Edward: Now the whirlwind.
Mrs Simpson: Weíll weather it together, darling.

Edward: With you I can face anything. Once your divorce comes through
weíll marry immediately. No waiting. No delays.

Mrs Simpson: Where?

Edward: Wherever we are once we know what decision the Cabinet has
reached Ė and thatís a foregone conclusion. However, thereís much
to do before that. Iíve my family to inform for when Iíve gone, it
will fall on poor Bertieís shoulders to take my place as King and I
donít envy him.

Mrs Simpson: Must you really go, David?

Edward: After tonight itís inevitable. Iíve made it quite clear to Baldwin
Iím marrying you, but until Iím told to go, weíll carry on as
normal, darling.

Mrs Simpson: Iím bewildered. Itís all happening so quickly.

Edward: [Putting his arms round her} Donít worry, Wallis. Together weíll see
it through.

Curtain.



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