EDWARD VIII, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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A very early signature as king.

EDWARD VIII (1894-1972). King of Great Britain and Ireland etc. Abdicated in 1936.
Document Signed ('Edward RI', as king), 1 page folio (oblong, the usual creases in the folds, one small stain) with papered seal, Given at St James's, 21 January 1936. The appointment of Geoffrey McCloughin Yelverton Dawson as a second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers, 31 January.

The new king's father, George V, had died at 11:55 on 20 January 1936, at which moment Edward automatically became king in his place. The following morning, the date of this document, the new king with his brother Albert (later George VI), flew to London, the first British reigning monarch to fly in an aeroplane. In the afternoon the official Accession Privy Council was held at St James's Palace (where this document was signed). Duff Cooper, who had to rush to Moss Bros to buy a second-hand privy councillor's uniform, recorded that 'The ceremony was rather impressive but not as much so as it might have been. I thought that Edward VIII looked very young and very lonely.' (The Duff Cooper Diaries, ed. John Julius Norwich). The new king broke the usual protocol on this occasion by watching the ceremony (with Wallis Simpson) from a window of the palace.

It is extraordinary that the king should have signed a routine document of this nature on the very first real day of his reign, but it would of course have been too soon for a facsimile of his signature to have been prepared for the purpose. The document is countersigned in the lower right hand corner by the adjutant-general, General Sir Harry Knox (1873-1971), and by Sir Herbert James Creedy (1878-1973, permanent under-secretary of state for war).
[No: 26487]

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