The Abdication Crisis (Britain 1900-1951 Period Study 1918-51)


  • Who was King Edward VIII?
  • Who was Wallis Simpson?
  • Why did their relationship cause problems?
  • Significance of the crisis

Part of Domestic politics 1929-39

For OCR Unit 1

Britain 1900-1951

Period Study 1918-51

  • Created by: oanderton
  • Created on: 25-08-20 16:14

Who was King Edward VIII?

  • Huge amount of informal influence.
    • Met on a regular basis with the PM.
    • Offered ministers advice
  • Head of the commonwealth and empire
  • Emperor of India
  • Head of the Church of England-
    • The church has a close relationship with the government 
  • Edward VIII far more like his grandfather. Known for his party ******* attitude and string of mistresses. He liked married older women
  • Seen as figure head
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Who was Wallis Simpson?

  • Married to a very successful business man. Already a divorcee. Probably only intended the relationship to an affair
  • The King became inflated with her. She was only interested because it gave her husband to gain social connections and business contacts
  • Asked her husband for a divorce, he reluctantly agreed  
  • The King died, it became a political scandal by 1936 there was an intention of the King to marry her
  • Was widely reported in the foreign press but was not widespread knowledge in Britain 
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Why did their relationship cause problems?

  • King was political indiscreet making comments about the poor and unemployment
  • Marriage to her would weaken ties with the empire
  • Lang, Archbishop of Canterbury didn't like the queen being a twice divorced woman. Church opinion was important to the Conservatives  
  • King was the supreme head of the Church and divorced people could not remarry in the church if their ex partner is still alive
  • Divorce is still frowned upon by society
  • King was personally popular, cheered warmly on visits to a fleet in London, South Wales – in clash with the cabinet public opinion would favour the king 
  • Baldwin didn't really get on with the King
  • King had close relations with fascism and made positive comments about Hitler, this made him look out of step
  • "King's Friends" right ring Members of parliament who supported the King included the Churchill.  Meaning he could ask them to replace the elected government. However this would be very radical and unusual
  • Lots thought he wouldn't marry her, because he had had a lot of relationships before
  • The King was determined to marry her
  • Cabinet advised King to tell Wallis not to get a divorce, indicated he was far more intent on private happiness then public duty, he was a self centred individual determined to get his way 
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Significance of the crisis

  • Lack of press coverage
  • Baldwin’s handlings meant the King departed without major upheaval
  • The affair maintained the moderate respectable consensus built up by the national government especially Churchill who was pushed into the political wilderness
  • Did mean people questioned the importance of the monarchy
  • Side lined those in conservatives who are pro monarchists and more likely to be anti appeasers like Churchill on the right wing of the party
  • House of Windsor became more intent on protecting their image 
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