In 1911, after the ascension of his Father, King George V, Edward became the Prince of Wales. When the First World War broke out in 1914, Edward had reached the minimum age for active service and was keen to participate. He had joined the Grenadier Guards in June 1914, and although Edward was willing to serve on the front lines, Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener refused to allow it, citing the immense harm that would occur if the heir apparent to the throne were captured by the enemy.
Despite this, Edward witnessed trench warfare first-hand and visited the front line as often as he could, for which he was awarded the Military Cross in 1916. Although he witnessed the hardships of the front line, his assignments to safe positions on the Italian front troubled him, causing him to announce, “What difference does it make if I am killed? The king has three other sons!”