WHEN the eldest son of King George V became King Edward VIII in January 1936 and abdicated the following December in order to marry the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson, he became a social exile and a political liability.

The couple spent a number of years drifting around the world, now and again being touched by scandal, to eventually settle in Paris.

There, they lived a quiet life, shunned by British royalty and virtually ignored by the world’s Press, except at their deaths - he in 1972 and she in 1986.

Such was the story of the second half of the life of the former HRH Prince Edward, in complete contrast to what went before, when as Prince of Wales he was arguably the most popular personality in Great Britain.

Born in 1894, he served in the First World War and subsequently took up the duties of royal life with some enthusiasm, particularly where they involved a connection with ex-servicemen of his generation.

The creation of Enham Village Centre for men disabled in the First World War, where they were trained in new skills to provide a future income, was a cause promoted by the King and Queen downwards and in 1926 a new institute sponsored by Mr and Mrs Landale Wilson was built to replace the former army hut that had served as dance hall, cinema and general village hall.

On June 29, 1926, the Prince of Wales was invited to open the new venue and on the same occasion he visited Andover as well.

At 2.15 pm, the Prince got off the train at Andover Junction and travelled by car down the short stretch of Charlton Road, into Junction Road, Bridge Street and so to the High Street.

All along the route people had turned out to wave and cheer, including the schoolchildren who must have enjoyed the break from lessons.

Andover Advertiser: The prince shaking hands with local dignitaries on the Guildhall forecourt. The prince shaking hands with local dignitaries on the Guildhall forecourt.

At the Guildhall, the lamp pillars and railings were decorated with red, white and blue bunting and a scarlet carpet had been laid out over the cobbled forecourt.

Across the front of the Guildhall was a banner with the single word ‘Welcome’.

The National Anthem was played and Hampshire’s Lord Lieutenant, General Seeley, introduced the Prince to the mayor Roland B C Kendall, who made a short speech of welcome, to which the prince replied in kind, saying he would retain many happy memories of the town.

After that it was back in the royal car and a drive to Enham, travelling via the upper High Street and down New Street.

Here also, he was cheered along the route, especially by the schoolchildren there.

Having opened the Landale Wilson Institute, which involved some lengthy speeches, he was given a tour of the estate, including a viewing of some of the cottages built to house the disabled tenants.

Finally, it was back to the War Memorial Hospital, which was due to be opened officially the following day by Field Marshall Lord Allenby.

The Prince was the first to sign the visitors book. Patients were already being treated, including an ex-soldier who had met with a road accident and also eight-year-old Kathy Aubrey from New Street who had been knocked down by a car on the previous Monday and had suffered a broken thigh.

Miss Aubrey was the daughter of town crier Arthur Aubrey and was later to marry James S (Jimmy) Monro whose garage is still at the bottom of New Street today.

The Prince was back at the station by 5pm, to take the royal train back to London, reportedly having had ‘a thoroughly enjoyable and instructive time’.