INTIMATE details of Edward VIII's abdication - hidden from the public for 67 years - are revealed for the first time today.

The official documents give a previously unknown account of the biggest ever Royal scandal, which plunged the country into a constitutional crisis.

The papers were kept under lock and key until the death of the Queen Mother, the last surviving figure to feature in the crisis.

They reveal a desperate attempt by Edward to cling on to the throne.

He insisted on making an impassioned radio broadcast, appealing directly to the British public for him to remain King and still marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

But he was banned from making the speech by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, who insisted Edward was restricted to making his farewell address to the nation when he abdicated in December 1936.

The previously top-secret files, released by the Public Records Office in London, contain the text of the King's banned speech, which it is thought Winston Churchill helped to write.

In it he spoke of his love for Mrs Simpson and hinted at the possibility of a morganatic marriage, whereby she would not have been Queen.

A letter from Mr Baldwin, who vehemently opposed the marriage, said that the proposed broadcast would be a grave breach of constitutional principles.

In exile in France after their marriage in 1938, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor visited Germany as guests of Hitler. But the files contain no hard evidence to substantiate assertions that they were Nazi sympathisers.

They do, however, reveal the couple's bitterness at their treatment after the abdication.

The Queen Mother was instrumental in preventing them from returning to England. She told her husband, King George VI, that she had no wish to meet the Duchess.

In one letter to Downing Street, the Duke complained that he had only intended to leave Britain temporarily and had not renounced his right to return.

He was particularly annoyed by a suggestion that the payment of a regular allowance to him would be stopped if he came back.

Reading the archive material for the first time, historians last night marvelled at the information contained in the 120 files.

Dr Susan Williams, from the University of London, said: "The files contain a wealth of detail that will fill many gaps in knowledge.

"They also provide essential source material for the understanding of relationships between the Crown and Government during the inter-war period, in relation to constitutional and political issues."