Eighty years ago this week, Parkwood, as a family home and the workplace for forty servants was abuzz with activity and wonder around what King Edward VIII was going to do.  The abdication crisis fueled the imaginations, fears and thoughts of Parkwood, just like it did the world and this has been captured in the secretary’s journals, as well as in Adelaide’s scrapbooks.

Todays generation may be aware of the abdication crisis through pop culture references, recently The King’s Speech and the Netflix  success, The Crown, however, the context around the atmosphere at Parkwood is fascinating and this is why I have chosen to examine it in this blog.

David, or Prince Edward, was a guest at the Estate during his visits to the Dominion. His car of preference was the McLaughlin-Buick, custom designed and built in Oshawa. Prince Edward, in green blazer with bowler, is even captured in the Billiard Room mural, north east corner, at the Toronto Hunt Club, with George Beardmore. I have always wondered why in a mural commissioned to showcase family hobbies, pursuits and delights, Edward and Beardmore are prevalently situated, and one can only assume a household affinity towards both must have existed when the mural was executed by Frederick Challener in 1924.

During our oral history collection several of the past serving staff have referenced this time frame within the mansion, and the tensions that existed.  At the time, a radio was situated in the servants’ dining hall location, rear of the mansion off the main kitchen, and the staff would gather to listen to the reports out of London.  Household Secretary JJ English has captured the feelings in his notations within the daily journal, “everyone at high tension, rumours…”

And the abdication is broadcast worldwide :                               

Abdication Speech

Imagine the households and workplaces throughout the Empire coming to a standstill to listen to the broadcast as Edwards says farewell.

The frenzied days after the abdication and the romance of what has become acquainted with Edward’s act of renouncing the throne, the fairytale of the 20th century, with the love letters, clothing and items of both Edward and Wallis Simpson selling for small fortunes, are imprinted in the newspapers, journals and collective memories of the era.  Even the McLaughlin-Buick custom made for Edward has been coined “the worlds most romantic car”
Romantic Car

In her scrapbooks, Adelaide has a collection of articles and papers that follow the legacy and life of Edward notably the abdication headlines, but also what is to occur next.

In January of 1937, Macleans Magazine publishes a series of articles analyzing the abdication and the players involved, from Baldwin to Churchill to Wallis Simpson to Westminster to the Act of Abdication, itself.

Finally, among the items in the scrapbook is a 1947 Time Magazine article written by Edward himself, discussing his education.
It’s a fitting piece for Adelaide’s scrapbook, combining her love of the monarchy, but also education. It is interesting how she continued to follow Edward’s life once he had left the throne.

In the following typed letter, an item I recently acquired from McLaughlin family members, there is a reference to the defunct monarchy of Edward VIII. I will elaborate on the further contents at another time, however, I enjoyed this line, as it summed up for me, the family feelings over the abdication