Despite their struggle with the media, the royal family, and the royal duties since their marriage, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's decision to step down as "senior members" of the royal family comes as a shock to many. And while their royal exit may feel like one of a kind in the British family's history, their action strongly echoes those taken by Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.

Edward VIII was the king of the UK when he decided to abandon his royal duties for the love of his life, Wallis Simpson. Though Prince Harry is sixth-in-line to the throne as he takes the exit, Edward VIII had to make a much bigger sacrifice. He was immensely popular as the new king when he had to abdicate his throne within a year of his rule, to marry the woman he loved. She was not being accepted as the future queen for being a divorced American socialite.

After Edward's abdication in 1936, ‎George VI, father of the current monarch Queen Elizabeth II, took the reins of the kingdom. The explanation given by the royal family at the time was that being the head of the Church of England was a part of Edward's duties as a king, which forbade marrying a divorced woman.

However, several critics of the royal family claim that the reason the British establishment wanted his abdication was his stance on politics and an apparent disregard for established constitutional conventions. Edward and Wallis, given the title of Duke and Duchess of Windsor after the abdication, were also accused of being Nazi sympathisers when they visited Adolf Hitler during a tour to Germany in 1937.

"The Establishment wanted rid of Edward VIII. They found his fascist-sympathising politics dodgy and they feared his outspoken, witty wife. They felt much safer with the shy, stammering Duke of York and his homely, aristocratic Scottish wife," writes Andrew Norman Wilson for Mail Online.

Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson
Edward VIII abdicated the throne for Wallis Simpson in 1936. Getty/Central Press

And while Harry and Meghan's exit is far less dramatic than the abdication in 1936, which caused an existential crisis for the royal family, there are interesting resemblances in the events. Both Meghan and Wallis were well-known celebrities in America, and in their 30s, when they met their Prince charming.

While Wallis was criticised for having two husbands before Edward VIII and being already married when she fell in love with the then-future king, the "Suits" actress had her fair share of clashes with the British media, often treated as an outsider. The 38-year-old also had a divorce once, with Trevor Engelson with whom she was married for two years from 2011-2013 before she met Harry.