tv The Windsors Inside the Royal Dynasty CNN February 16, 2020 10:00pm-11:00pm PST
w nothe real work begins. >> we will get there. i promise you. we as a people will get there. the latest in a long line of brides prepares to join the most celebrated royal family on earth. actress meghan markle will marry into a world of grand tradition and vast wealth. >> my whole life shall be devoted to your service. >> but all that glitters is not gold. for 100 years, this royal house
has faced scandal, war, adultery. >> it would have been far easier to have two wives -- >> and tragedy. >> diana, the princess of wales, has died at the age of 36. >> a family that will do whatever it takes to survive. >> we are here to celebrate six decades of the queen's -- >> duty, power, and sacrifice. the windsors. 1911. the future of the british monarchy rests on the shoulders of a teenage boy.
prince edward. he is the eldest son of king george v and his wife, queen mary. on his father's death, edward will reign over britain and her vast empire. edward is only 17 when his father, king george v, forces him to go through this special ceremony declaring him prince of wales and heir to the throne. the whole ceremony is all planned by his father, king george, and everything about it is one giant symbol of what george thinks monarchy should be. >> king george v is the 38th monarch in a line that stretches back nearly 1,000 years. through eight royal houses, all the way to william the conqueror. though george holds no direct political power, as head of state and supreme governor of
the church of england, many regard the king as the ultimate symbol of britain's national identity. today edward will be publicly presented as king in waiting. when he is crowned prince of wales. >> king george designs this wonderful medieval outfit for him to wear. >> edward absolutely hates it. and he can't wait to get out of the ceremonial robes. >> he must have looked to the future with absolute horror. it was a foretaste of a life of formality and ceremony which he absolutely hated. >> edward is part of a new generation and he wants to do things differently from his father and his father, king george v is very much part of old guard.
>> the upbringing of the royal children has been purposefully shaped to protect a thousand years of tradition. >> george v is particularly strict on his children because he believes that they should be sort of virtuous role models that his people should then look up to and emulate. >> there were precise rules for everything. the children could be punished for something so slight as wearing the wrong kilt with the wrong jacket. >> george had a ruthless temper. when the boys were summoned to his study, they were terrified. he was the king and you didn't argue with the king. >> there is almost nothing of the natural sort of fun and affection that would you expect to see in most families. >> as a child, edward is closest to his younger brother, prince albert. known in the family as bertie.
>> bertie is shy. he suffers from a serious stammer. his father is very unsympathetic. >> edward and bertie are really oppressed by their father's tough regime and they do gain some solace from the fact that they are in it together. >> but the two brothers find an escape route from their father's strict household. war. >> germany is threatening to become the dominant power on the european continent and there comes a point when britain has to intervene. >> more than 30 countries
including the united states will be dragged into the first truly global conflict. world war i. >> 20-year-old edward, like other 20-year-old young men in britain, want to go out and fight for their country. >> george is advised that it would be good for him and for the monarchy if his sons are seen to take part. >> but if the king allows his sons to go to war, they will be fighting against their own family. germany's ruler, kaiser wilhelm, is george's first cousin. in fact the british royal family is related to most of the royal houses of europe. they're all intermarried and all cousins. >> george v and kaiser wilhelm are both grandsons of the late queen victoria. known as the grandmother of europe, she sat at the center of a vast network of royal families connected by blood and marriage. victoria was married to a german, prince albert.
>> so the name of the british royal family is the saxe-coburg gotha dynasty. >> his people are at war with germany but how can the king command their loyalty for they're questioning his british origins in the first place. >> the british public becomes very much aware and critical of the german origins of the king. and at this point, george makes a really radical change. >> they have to change the family name. >> the question is, what name? all sorts of names were thought of and eventually they come up the new idea of calling it the house of windsor.
>> the name comes from windsor castle of the official residences of the monarchs. >> it had been there a thousand years. it is quintessential britain. >> they change the name to windsor. with that they say to the nation, we're not german. we're english. we're english just like you. >> it works. the pr maneuver increases the king's popularity. one crisis has been averted. but the war will soon force an impossible decision on the king. nationwide 5g network. and with it, you can shape the future. we've invested 30 billion dollars and built our new 5g network for businesses like yours. while some 5g signals only go a few blocks, t-mobile 5g goes for miles. no other 5g signal goes farther or is more reliable in business. tomorrow is in your hands. partner with t-mobile for business today.
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1917. the first world war rages on. prince edward is now an officer in the british army. >> but he's not allowed to fight. he's not allowed near the front line. >> he says to his father, king george, look, i have to be doing my bit. and his father said no, no, you can't risk being killed or captured. >> that's an experience that he finds extremely humiliating. >> his father insists the prince of wales is protected at all times. but edward defies his father's orders. >> at one point, he escaped and stole a motor bike and headed off for the front line. >> and he hears the stories of ordinary men, and he sees the
sacrifices that they're making. >> it is at this time that edward realizes that he is able to make contact and connection with ordinary people outside. the bubble of the court. >> he was extremely popular. he represented a new generation. >> edward's personal popularity may be on the rise, but king george faces another wave of public dissatisfaction with the monarchy. the carnage of the first world war makes people question the old traditional social order. they're supposed to be fighting for king and country, but really, what is it all about? >> the working classes in particular are questioning the decisions taken by their social superiors. people like the monarchs. >> particularly worrying is what is going on in russia with george's cousin czar nicholas ii.
>> in march 1917, revolutionaries deposed the czar and placed the russian royal family under house arrest. czar nicholas needs asylum. he wants to come to england. >> king george is very close to his cousin nicky. they were very good friends and they looked almost identical. the problem with the czar is that he is incredibly unpopular among some people in britain. >> he is seen as a blood spinning tyrant, brutally crushing any kind of uprising prior to 1917. >> the fall of the czar is celebrated by a growing number of the british working class. george is afraid if he brings in nicholas, he'll have a flaming revolution in this country as well. >> if the russian royal family
can be toppled, what is to say the british royal family aren't next? >> george will do everything he can to preserve his own dynasty and his own family. >> the king makes a cold hearted choice. he refuses asylum to his cousin, his wife, and their five children. one year later, king george learns the fate of his russian family. >> a group of bolshevik soldiers opened fire on them. the czar died straight away. it took a long time to kill his son, the zarina and their successors. they all had jewel diamonds sewn into their underwear which was like armor and so their death was more agonizing than it might have been. >> he writes of his misery but he never speaks of it publicly. he knows, he didn't save them. he didn't offer them asylum. >> ultimately, the survival of the british monarchy comes first.
>> in november 1918, after four long years of war, germany surrenders. prince edward, heir to the throne, is welcomed home as a war hero. >> but at this point, a whole new set of challenges emerges. the biggest of those, perhaps, is the survival of the british empire which is starting to fray at the edges. >> king george's empire extends from canada to australia covering a fifth of the world's population. nearly 3 million of george's subjects from across the empire fought in world war i. and hundreds of thousands lost their lives. many now question their sacrifice. >> there is lots of discontent and rebellion in different parts of the empire. >> there are nationalist uprisings and a lot of violence
in egypt, ireland and india. >> king george realizes that his son edward's wartime popularity is something that he can use the shore up the loyalty of the british empire. >> in the fall of 1919, edward is sent off on his first major overseas tour to canada. >> edward embarks on these tours as an ambassador on behalf of his father to broker good relations between britain and the other countries. >> the program that has been set for him is a very old-fashioned, formal one with carriage rides and formal lunches and receptions. >> edward is the very antithesis of his parents, king george and queen mary, who were enormously correct and very, very stuffy. >> the first thing that edward
does when he gets to canada is to fire the organizer for the tour. that's the same man has organized his father's tour a few years before. >> he begins to practice the more informal style of monarchy which he had begun to develop during the first world war. >> he wants to have mass receptions where he can meet as many people as possible. >> he shook so many hands. his right hand became unusable. it was too bruised and he had to start shaking hands using his left hand. >> of course, the prince of wales was a very dynamic character, in the fact that he was so good looking. he got mobbed wherever he went. >> at the end of his canadian tour, edward decides to tack on a visit to america where president woodrow wilson has invited him. >> he's given a ticker tape parade in manhattan and people are just delighted to see him.
>> he falls in love with the u.s. and the american way of life. >> for him, the wide open spaces represent a life of freedom. somewhere where he can be his own man. in charge of his own destiny. >> edward loves north america so much that he buys a cattle ranch. and he has this fancy that one day he'll be able to retire from public life and go live out a private existence on this ranch. >> he has all of these responsibilities, he is representing the british throne. and then at the same time, there are things that he wants to do. he loves the social life, he loves to go dancing. he is really a kind of jazz age prince. >> it will set how many a collision course. not only with his father but
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that for the monarchy to survive, it has to be useful. edward travels around the world on behalf of the british empire on endless goodwill tours. >> what an amazing constitution the prince of wails must have. there he is at a garden party in buenos aires. he shook hands with more than 500 people. >> he worked really hard. much more than george had done when he was prince of wales. prince edward is britain's answer to hollywood celebrity. >> whatever he wears is adopted as a fashion. >> i suppose we shall all be wearing loafers now. >> despite edward's huge popularity, his father, king george, is irritated by his modern approach. from george's point of view, edward can do nothing right. he is constantly criticizing silly things about how he shakes too many hands or wears the wrong clothes. constant carping.
>> in 1924, edward takes a break from his royal duties and is drawn back to his beloved america. >> the usa is one of the few places in the world that edward visits that's not part of the british empire. so he feels much greater freedom in america. >> edward falls in with the kind of high living socializing set of long island. and he spends three weeks living it up. >> one of the first people he meets in america is a hollywood starlet. she is married to a new york millionaire and they embark on a passionate affair. >> it was fun, probably for
everybody. except for the prince of wales' father who back home in england thinking, good lord, this isn't possibly the tour we had anticipated. >> when edward returns from his trip to america in 1924 his father is apoplectic. >> the king has a pile of news clippings on his desk with such headlines as prince gets in with the milkman. >> george v expects his son to behave properly with decorum, etiquette to project a certain moral virtuousity. to maintain the image worthy of the future king. in george's mind, edward is letting them down. >> george is furious at this public exposure and he is so annoyed that he refuses to let edward ever go back to the united states again. >> but america's influence has
transformed edward's vision of the kind of royal he wants to be. >> edward believes that america is more democratic but if he could dispense with pomp and pageantry, perhaps the monarchy will have a relevance. >> britain is going through very difficult times economically with the depression. he is out there meeting the people, going into ordinary houses, finding out about working conditions on a much more direct and immediate level than royalty has ever done before. >> edward is enormously popular. suddenly, here was somebody who was willing to talk to you like a normal human being and people were just overwhelmed by that. >> he speaks out about the dreadful living conditions and
housing in britain. and this shocked the government. because it was an implicit criticism of them. >> it was crossing a line, if you like. that here was the prince of wales actually getting involved with politics. and this was something the monarchy of george v was certainly very against. >> usually the monarchy should stay out of politics and edward is breaking all the rules. >> king george worries desperately about the future and he is reported to say, after i'm dead, the boy will ruin himself in 12 months. >> but the king is delighted with the man his second son bertie is promising to become. >> edward and bertie are very different characters. edward is very glamorous, outgoing, and bertie is terribly shy and rather nervous. >> bertie marries lady elizabeth, who is from a very
grand, ancient, scottish aristocratic family. >> in 1926 she has elizabeth. in 1930 she has margaret rose. >> bertie is living his life the way he is, he is pleasing his father and doing exactly what george v would want him to do. >> bertie has become very close to his father. he lives a virtuous family life. on the other hand, you have edward, the bad boy. he is unmarried, single, and his father thinks his eldest son is woefully unprepared for becoming king. >> as edward approaches 40, he is at a low end. he feels lonely. his brothers are all settling down, making marriages and having children. >> and that's when he meets the woman who will throw the entire
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>> wallace exudes charm. she has very strong features. of course, elegantly dressed, tiny skinny. i mean, you can never be too rich or too thin. i think she might have said. >> they're sitting together. other people are dancing and edward suddenly opens up about his work. the visits that he's making to the coal mining areas. and wallace listens attentively. >> he talks to her about the burdens he faces and all the difficulties of his daily job. and wallace is not only deeply sympathetic, she's very knowledgeable. >> and he says, wallace, you're the first woman who has ever been interested in my job. >> wallace very quickly
realizes that beneath that confident veneer, the prince is actually lacking in self-confidence, to some extent. >> in wallace he finds someone with whom he can really discuss all these matters that are preying on his mind. wallace doesn't defer to him in a slavish way as the english tend to do. he was subjected to the most errant appalling flattery by the english. she didn't do that. she talked to him as a woman to man. and he liked this. >> edward and wallace become secret lovers. before long she's a regular guest at ft. belvedere, his private retreat. >> ft. belvedere meant everything to edward. he can be there with no royal protocol going on around him. >> ft. belvedere was his get away from the rigors of court life. >> what he loves doing is having
the cocktails before dinner and rolling up the carpet after dinner and putting on a round of records. all of those things that queen mary up the road in the castle and king george would abhor. >> it is amazing how quickly the relationship between wallace and edward develops. >> edward falls head over heels for wallace. i think precisely because she offers him the love and support that he wasn't necessarily getting. particularly from his father but also his mother. it is also the case that edward has a great affection for all things american. >> there was something about an american woman that he found spirited and different and sparky. that is key to any relationship as far as edward is concerned. >> she had this ability to make you feel that you were the most important person in the room.
and the rest of the world had just sort of vanished. she was completely focused on you. >> wallace establishes herself very quickly as the unofficial wife at ft. belvedere. >> but wallace presents a number of problems. not least, the fact she is married and has been divorced. divorce is simply not done. it is taboo. not just in britain but also in the united states. >> divorced people in england at this point have no status. they're almost viewed as pariahs. >> so for him to have a relationship with a woman who has been divorced is completely unheard of. >> divorced people can't be presented at court. so they can't meet the royal family officially. >> however, edward is so besotted with her that he wants her to accompany him to the pre wedding ball of his younger
brother, prince george. >> edward is absolutely determined he is going to bring wallace to this party to meet his father, against all advice and protocol. >> edward's younger brother bertie and his wife elizabeth are horrified. they think that this unscrupulous woman, this woman of low morals, should not be in the company either of themselves or for that matter, the prince of wales. >> wallace is finally introduced to edward's father, king george v, and she feels the icy stare almost burning through her. >> george really explodes with rage and says, she must not darken my doors again. and there is real serious bust up between father and son. >> king george and queen mary are terribly worried about the
degree to which he is completely under wallace's spell. >> his parents are fearful of what this could mean for the future of monarchy. but before they can intervene, king george's health suddenly declines. >> king george becomes seriously ill. it is clear he is on his death bed. and that means that edward will become king and that will change everything about his relationship with wallace. so is this stuff really fresh? yes. i mean yeah, we don't have freezers, we don't have microwaves. we always have fresh stuff coming in. i mean this is the best guac that you can get. fresh is what you stand for. definitely. no. uh uh, no way. ♪ come on. no.
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that's the power of edge-to-edge intelligence. in january, 1936, king george v dies from heart failure at the age of 70. >> when george breathes his last, mary, the queen, one of her first acts is to bow before her son edward and to kiss his hand. in that moment, he has gone from being edward to king edward viii.
>> two days after he becomes king, there is a ceremony at st. james' palace when his accession is proclaimed. my grandmother was at the proclamation. she is there in the courtyard, and looking up, she sees out her window the new king edward with wallace by his side. and she's very shocked by this. we have the new king standing next to his american mistress, laughing, enjoying himself, when they should have been in mourning and it should have been a much more somber, dignified occasion. the king has only just died. to appear at a window with your mistress as your proclaimed
king, well, what more can i say? >> the gravity of his role as the new constitutional king seems to pass edward completely by. >> you get the feeling that really, he is kind of liberated. now his father is gone. he can do exactly what he wants. >> he spends most of every week planning lunches and dinners and weekends at ft. belvedere or buying costly presents and jewels for wallace. a playboy king. >> edward's reliance on mrs. simpson grows. he neglects his official duties. he doesn't do the things that he's supposed to be doing. he doesn't do his job. so far his affair with mrs. simpson has been successfully kept from the public. but edward's passion for wallace is becoming all consuming. >> edward should be meeting and greeting his ministers, looking
through state papers and signing off laws. and yet he lets things slide. >> edward charters a yacht to go around the mediterranean for a few days. >> edward thinks he is off duty. he can behave as anybody might behave in those circumstances. they sail around greece. he is photographed without his shirt on. this would make poor george v turn in his grave. >> up to then, in public at least, he's been relatively discreet about meeting wallace. but on holiday, he throws caution to the winds. and there are dozens of photographers following edward and wallace on this tour. >> the american press prints so many photographs of mrs. simpson
with the king that it starts a conversation about whether or not they will marry. >> there is one particularly compromising photograph which shows wallace simpson resting her hand in a very sort of comfortable way on his arm. >> the king's body is reverent and dignified. you're not to touch him in public. it is not the done thing. >> that is the moment when it is pretty obvious they are close and have been for some time. >> the trip is very much a turning point for wallace and edward. their relationship becomes known globally. >> while the entire world learns of edward and mrs. simpson's affair, in britain, the story is censored. >> you could buy american newspapers in england but if
there was a story about wallace, it would be cut out with scissors. the news agents had to remove it before they were allowed to sell it. >> this is as a result of a gentleman's agreement where by the press is very deferential to the monarchy. >> so after they return from their cruise, her aunt bessie from baltimore sends her a pile of newspaper clippings. >> wallace is furious that she's become public property. wallace says to the king, we have to break this off now. >> he's besotted by her. he's absolutely at her mercy. >> he threatens wherever she goes, he will come and find her. if he doesn't find her, having searched the four corners of the earth, he will kill himself. >> finally, wallace and ernest
simpson decide their marriage is over and initiate divorce proceedings. >> a crisis is now imminent. >> members of the government, members of the palace, all become very concerned that within six months, she will be divorced and she will then be free to marry him. >> for the royal family to marry a divorced woman is the most appalling, scandalous, unthinkable thing. >> as king, he is the defender of the faith and as such, he simply could not marry a divorced woman. this was against the faith which he was trying to defend. >> and king edward realizes that he's going to have to make a choice. for the drive to create a new kind of family car,
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♪ ♪ today the american press is filled with rumors of royal romance, and in this topsy-turvy world, it may be time for an american woman to marry a british king. >> king edward has been on the throne for just nine months. until now, he has managed to keep his two-year affair with wallace secret from the british public.
>> the world knows all about this relationship. but in britain they're still in the dark. >> it's patriots in america are writing home to britain saying, what is happening? >> finally, edward has a meeting with the prime minister baldwin. >> edward declares his hand. he says that he is determined to marry wallace. >> this is a bombshell. >> the prime minister tells him that he has three options. he can give up his relationship with mrs. simpson, he can marry mrs. simpson against the express wishes of his ministers who will then resign, or he can abdicate. >> there's no precedence for abdication. there's no blueprint of what a king or, indeed, a prime minister or parliament should
do. >> it's the tloehrone or it's mrs. simpson. one or the other. he can't have both. >> however, before edward has made a decision, the story breaks in the press. >> ultimately the british newspapers realize that they simply can't hold off any longer. this story is too big. they break the gentlemen's agreement and decide to publish it. >> the british empire faces an extraordinary crisis. not for centuries have these houses of parliament witnessed so dangerous a political struggle. shall king edward 8:00 marry mrs. simpson? no, say the members of the cabinet supported by the upper classes. they are forbid enfrom marrying the american woman twice divorced. >> there is a great division among the public between those who see this as a great love story, and then there are a great many people who see this as an absolute dereliction of
duty, because he wants to marry an american socialite? >> wallace becomes immensely unpopular as the woman who threatens to take away the king, and her house is surrounded, stones are thrown through the window. >> she's the center of this attention. that would be hard for any woman. >> wallace is quite panicked now and she thinks the time is right to flee london, and she drives off to the south of france. and she's chased by a press pack desperate for more details. >> edward is desolate when she leaves. she has been his support, his confidant, and obviously his lover. and without her, he is completely bereft. >> edward finds himself faced
with a huge dilemma. he is having to choose between doing the job that he had trained his entire life for and wallace simpson. >> eight days after the crisis breaks, edward finally addresses the nation. >> this is windsor castle, his royal highness prince edward. >> i was in bed and i think i was half asleep because i remember somebody coming in and saying the king is coming on. so there is going to be an announcement. >> i mean, everybody tuned in. it was an extraordinary moment. >> until now it has not been constitutionally possible for me to speak. a few hours ago i discharged my
last duty as king and emperor. but you must believe me when i tell you that i have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as i would wish to be without the help and support of the woman i love. >> when the british public finally learns what's happened, they feel absolutely shocked and betrayed. how could a king give up his throne and empire? >> i thought it was domz day. dooms day. we don't have a king any more. >> edward sits down with his brothers around him as witnesses
to this momentous unprecedented event and signs that fateful decree abdicating the throne of england. >> bertie, you will become king. feel nothing but dread at the prospect of succeeding. edward himself feels a sense finally of freedom. >> in the early hours of december the 12th, edward leaves the country and goes into exile. >> no king has ever abdicated like this before. it's completely unprecedented. >> edward leaves after just over 300 days on the throne. and in doing so, he throws the monarchy into chaos. >> next on "the windsors." >> bertie has been tasked with this incredible job. >> he's always been the mood to
his brother's son. edward feels like cavorting with the nazis. >> all of this is undermining bertie. >> edward has not adjusted to the fact that he is not king. this is a big problem. hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. you are watching cnn newsroom and i'm rosemary church. just ahead, hundreds of americans quarantined for weeks aboard a cruise ship are finally on their way back to the united states. but they won't be headed home to their families just yet. plus, u.s. attorney general william barr under fire. calls for his resignation from one group that says his behavior presents a grave threat to justice. and how one police officer is using his hoop skills to transform the lives of kids living in los angeles.