Abdication Crisis 1936

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Abdication Crisis background + issue

  • How Important was the Monarch in 1936?
  • Could have political influence over choice of minister or even government- George V intervened in 1924 to appoint Labour 1st Gov
  • Monarch also Emperor of India + Head of Commonwealth and Head of C of E
  • What happened?
  • 1936 new kind Edwarrd VIII, in r/shp with married american divorcee who was going through another divorce Wallis Simpson. Wanted to marry her. Fears in gov +estab about newkingwife
  • Fears?
  • EVIII politically indiscrete, had made comments about unemployed and poor and was sympathetic to the fascist governments of Germ and Italy
  • Divorce still frowned upon in 30s
  • King had a faction of supporters in Gov 'king's friends' eg WC. SB worried that E8 would replace SB with WC (selfish interests)
  • Mrs Simpson as queen of commonwealth, weaken ties with colonies
  • Church of England, ABC Lang opposed to the marriage, church did not allow divorces so how could Supreme Head of church divorce????
  • E8 was popular with the public? So what was to be done
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Baldwin response

  • Baldwin could've allowed E8 to continue with Mrs Simpson as mistress, but E8 determined to marry her. However, SB used this to his advantage as he wanted to get rid of E8 anyway

Baldwin Acts:

  • Nov 20th goes to King and asks him to consider impact of marriage
  • Nov Baldwin advising King that Cabinet unlikely to even accept morganatic (unequal social rank) marriage (probably an exaggeration
  • Dec 10th King agreed to abdicate in favour of younger brother, King George VI "Bertie"
  • Whole affair = victory for Baldwin, who removed a potential opponent, and pushed WC even further into the wilderness. Opposition to gov on appeasement and policy on India even less effective = ideal for SB
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