english history · history

The Royal Marriage Act of 1772

This week in history marks the anniversary of Edward VIII’s abdication of the English throne in favor of marrying the woman he loved, Wallis Simpson, which took place in 1936. Edward had met Simpson in 1931 and they became an item by 1934. This relationship caused a great scandal because Simpson was already married to Ernest Aldrich Simpson…her second husband. She was an American, she had already been divorced once, and was now planning to divorce again to marry Prince Edward. This was unacceptable at the time for a future royal, let alone the future queen. Society was very different then and divorce was not approved by the Church of England of which the monarchy is still the head of (thanks to Henry VIII…who ironically gained a divorce!). Since Edward was the eldest son of George V; he was subject to the Royal Marriages Act of 1772.

In 1772, George III created this act as a reaction to his brothers both marrying “commoners” which was some kind of disgrace to the crown (though maybe it was just because George III was jealous that he could not have married for choice). This act states that any descendant of George II could not marry without the currently reigning sovereigns consent. This consent had to be documented and any marriages that did not have this consent were considered null and void. Continue reading “The Royal Marriage Act of 1772”