King Edward VIII

Thursday, November 13, 1919

In the summer of 1919, Edward the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, embarked on a tour of the Dominions. After touring Canada for several months, the Prince decided to spend a few days in the United States. This was his first visit as Prince of Wales to the U.S. since his grandfather Edward VII had visited 50 years earlier. The estate was open to the public on the day of the visit, but the Mount Vernon guard force was augmented with “a detail of U.S. Marines.”

Resident Superintendent Colonel Harrison Dodge wrote of the visit:

In 1919, the Prince of Wales came informally by automobile, escorted by Vice President Marshall, Secretary of State Lansing, Assistant Secretary of State Phillips and other prominent officials. After depositing his evergreen tree upon Washington’s sarcophagus, he planted an English yew in front of the tomb a short distance from where his illustrious grandfather in 1860 made an unsuccessful attempt to start another tree. The Prince said to the young man whom I instructed to hand him the shovel, ‘What branch of the service were you in during the war?’

‘I was the sergeant in the U.S. Infantry, sir.’

‘Ah, then you did not get a cross. Hard luck.’

Turning from the tree, he noticed among strangers present a man in service uniform and walked up to him. Looking at him closely, he said, ‘Didn’t I see you at Koblenz last summer?’

‘I was there, Your Highness.’

At the Mansion, I introduced him to two ladies who had come to Mount Vernon in 1860 with their parents to greet Prince Edward, his grandfather. One of them said, ‘Your Highness, I was a very little child then, and your grandfather kissed me.’

‘Indeed, how jolly,’ he replied. And then, to me, as we hurried away, he asked, ‘Do you suppose that was a hint of the old lady for me to do the same?’

In December 1936, Edward VIII would abdicate the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee.

Read More About Historic Trees at Mount Vernon

The Prince of Wales places a wreath on Washington's sarcophagus. Tomb guard Charles Simms hands the Prince his hat and cane. Mount Vernon Resident Superintendent Harrison H. Dodge departs the tomb vestibule behind the Prince. At far left is Secretary of State Robert Lansing and Vice President Thomas R. Marshall. (MVLA)

The Prince of Wales plants a tree near the Tomb during his visit to Mount Vernon on November 13, 1919. This press photograph was taken during the ceremonial planting. Others present include: Superintendent Dodge and tomb guard Charles Simms, as well as members accompanying His Highness. (MVLA)

Visits by the British Royal Family

British Royalty has paid many visits to Mount Vernon over its long history.

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