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Gallup Vault: Americans OK'd UK Royal Marrying U.S. Divorcee

In November 1936, a month before King Edward VIII of England forfeited the throne to wed an American divorcee, Mrs. Wallis Simpson, Gallup found 61% of Americans supporting the possible marriage. The remaining 39% disapproved.

Americans' Support for King Edward III Marrying Mrs. Wallis Simpson
November 1936
%
Approve 61
Disapprove 39
GALLUP

Gallup's write-up of the poll a year later said, "Two sections of the country, New England and the South, frowned slightly on the marriage of the King to a divorcee, but general public opinion approved." The article also referred to the fact that while Americans were aware of the budding scandal, Britons themselves were not:

"On November 22, 1936, before the average British citizen had read anything regarding the royal romance, the Institute of Public Opinion [Gallup's original name] published the results of a survey in this country which showed Americans sympathetic to Edward's intended marriage."

The British people's unfamiliarity with the king's romance was due to an astounding cover-up by British newspapers at the time. Years later, it was revealed that the nation's leading editors, as well as the BBC, had conspired to bury the story out of deference to the king. Even more remarkably in today's digital age is that ample news coverage in the U.S. didn't spread to the British citizenry.

The couple married on June 3, 1937. A Gallup poll conducted soon after found the same percentage that had favored the Windsor-Simpson marriage a year earlier, 61%, now favored the newlyweds living in the United States. According to the article, "Rumors that the royal couple might make their home in the United States have been in the air ever since the Duke closed the door of British dominions on himself when he abdicated. Possible royal 'lodges' and estates have been pointed out in California, in Maryland and on Long Island." They ultimately settled in France.

Again, New England was among the least sympathetic region to the Duke, with only 51% of residents there saying they would like the couple to make their home in the U.S. The figure was 59% in the South and 60% or greater in all other regions.

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View the 1937 Gallup news release on the Windsor-Simpson marriage and where they should live.

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