1936 – Edward VII of England abdicates

It was a serious business: there were pressing legal, moral, theological and political reasons why the King of England could not marry an American divorcee. But such was King Edward VII’s love for Wallis Simpson that he was prepared to ignore all those things. The heart wants what the heart wants.

But ignore them he could not: as King, he was head of the Church of England, which at that time forbade the marriage of divorced people. Moreover, many citizens of the nations of the British Empire – Britain not least among them – did not want a twice-divorced American as their Queen. The establishment in England tended to view Wallis Simpson as little more than a gold digger.

Edward remained stubborn, and on the 10th of December, 1936, he announced his abdication from the throne (although under law, it was not legally binding until Parliament ratified it). Edward’s brother became the next king, George VI, and Edward was created the Duke of Windsor, and upon their marriage, Wallis Simpson became the Duchess of Windsor.

Referenced in:

Edward VII — Lord Caresser
Life Between the Wars — Al Stewart
Blessed Are The Meek — Status Quo

1930 – Amy Johnson flies from England to Darwin

Amy Johnson became famous the world over after she became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia. Flying her de Havilland Gipsy Moth (which she had named ‘Jason’), she departed from Croydon, near London, on May 5, 1930 and reached Darwin, in Australia’s Northern Territory, on May 24, a flight of some 11,000 miles (or 18,000 km). She was honoured with the Harmon Trophy, a CBE, the No. 1 civil pilot’s licence under Australia’s 1921 Air Navigation Regulations and a street in Darwin that still bears her name today, all for this achievement.

Johnson later died under disputed circumstances during World War Two – it is believed that she may have been on a mission for British intelligence, but the truth of the matter has never been revealed.

Referenced in:

Flying Sorcery — Al Stewart
A Lone Girl Flier — Bob Molyneux
Just Plain Johnnie — Bob Molyneux
Amy, Wonderful Amy — Harry Bidgood
Johnnie, Our Aeroplane Girl — Jack Lumsdaine

1914 – Archduke Franz Ferdinand is assassinated

It’s one of those things: the wrong man at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was that man, Sarajevo was that place and July 28, 1914, was definitely the wrong time. While on a motorcade with his wife, Sophie Hollenburg, the Archduke narrowly dodged an assassination attempt by bomber Muhamed Mehmedbaši.

Muhamed’s failure led to the man who had placed him there, Danilo Ili, to send another of his team, Gavrilo Princip, to complete the job. Princip fired two shots, fatally wounding the Archduke and his wife with one shot each.

And in doing so, he set in motion a chain of events that would lead, inexorably, to the outbreak of World War One.

Referenced in:

Manuscript – Al Stewart
All For You, Sophia – Franz Ferdinand