Abdication Crisis

King Edward VIII's Phone Was Bugged By His Own Government

British government records released today over 75 years after the events took place reveal the extraordinary fact that King Edward VIII's phone calls were bugged by his own government as the abdication crisis unfolded in 1936.

The Home Secretary Sir John Simon ordered the interception in a hand-written note after the King informed Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin that he intended to marry Mrs Simpson, an American divorcee.

At that time, the Church of England refused to remarry divorcees while their former spouse was still living, and Baldwin was clear he felt that the marriage was impossible if Edward was to remain on the throne.Amid this backdrop Sir John ordered the General Post Office (GPO) covertly to monitor the King's telephone calls.

A roughly-scraweld note dated December 5 and marked "Most Secret" was sent from the Home Office to the head of the GPO Sir Thomas Gardiner and read: “The Home Secretary asks me to confirm the information conveyed to you orally, with his authority by, by Sir Horace Wilson that you will arrange for the interception of telephone communications between Fort Belvedere and Buckingham Palace on the one hand and the Continent of Europe on the other."