Britain Bugged Its Own King in 1936

As Edward VIII abdication crisis erupted
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2013 11:57 AM CDT
Britain Bugged Its Own King in 1936
This is a May 7, 1937 file photo of Edward, The Duke of Windsor and Mrs. Wallis Simpson at the Chateau de Cande, near Touraine, France before they are married.   (AP Photo/Len Putnam, File)

Today's best bit of historical trivia comes compliments of the BBC, which reports on newly released secret documents that show Britain bugged the phone of its own king in 1936. That king was Edward VIII, most famously known for abdicating so that he could marry divorcee Wallis Simpson. But before he did so, an "abdication crisis" broke out, leading Britain's Home Office (which oversees police, MI5, etc) to order that all calls between his residence at Fort Belvedere or Buckingham Palace and "the continent of Europe" be intercepted; at the time, Simpson was bunking with friends in France.

It appears the bugging of calls was short-lived: A "Most Secret" memo confirming the interception is dated Dec. 5, 1936, reports the AFP; Edward, who had not yet been formally crowned, stepped down on Dec. 10, ending a 326-day reign. The files, released by the National Archives, do not log any details of calls that may have been intercepted. (More Wallis Simpson stories.)

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