The Abdication Crisis of 1936

The abdication of Edward VIII was a monumental moment in the history of Britain and the Royal Family. It was the first time that an English monarch voluntarily gave up their position of power, as well as providing a key example of the power the government hold in shaping the actions of royalty.[1] Furthermore, the Church of England and the British public also did not support Edward in his actions, and were key to the events that unfolded.[2] In general terms, the Abdication Crisis of 1936 saw King Edward VIII faced with a key decision to make. Should he remain British monarch, or marry the woman he loved, Wallis Simpson? The reason Edward could not have both of these things at the same time was due to the fact that Mrs Simpson was a twice-divorced American woman, who in the eyes of tradition was a commoner in comparison to Edward.[3] The pairing was not supported by Edward’s father George V, nor was it supported by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. Stanley Baldwin made clear to Edward that should marriage take place, himself and his cabinet would be forced to remove governmental support of the king and his duties. Baldwin made this lack of support clear to Edward when hearing the plan of marriage on the 16th November at Buckingham Palace.[4] Edward had consistently been accused of lacking respect for royal protocol, with little regard for government tradition also. His relationship with Wallis Simpson was no different. It was not simply Simpson’s position that was seen as unsuitable for marriage to Edward, but also the conflict the marriage would cause within the Church of England. As king, Edward was also head of the Church of England, who did not support remarriage when a previous spouse was still alive, which happened to be the case with Wallis Simpson.[5] So on the 10th of December 1936, Edward VIII officially abdicated from his position as king in order to marry Wallis Simpson. His brother, George VI as he would be known, became king. Edward VIII is one of the shortest-reigning British monarchs, holding his position for just 326 days.[6] Edward and Wallis married in 1937, and remained married until Edward’s death in 1972.

Image Retrieved From https://www.gethistory.co.uk/historical-period/20th-century/interwar/edward-viii-and-the-abdication-crisis.


[1] History.com. (2009). Edward VIII Abdicates. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/edward-viii-abdicates.

[2] History.com. (2009).

[3] The International Churchill Society. (2020). The Abdication Crisis. Retrieved from https://winstonchurchill.org/the-life-of-churchill/wilderness-years/1935-1939/the-abdication-crisis/.

[4] The Gazette: Official Public Record. (2019). This Month in History: Edward VIII Abdication Crisis. Retrieved from https://www.thegazette.co.uk/awards-and-accreditation/content/103449.

[5] The Gazette: Official Public Record. (2019).

[6] The Gazette: Official Public Record. (2019).

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