The death of King George V on 20 January 1936 propelled the British nation into a tumultuous predicament that would threaten the stability of the monarchy and its adherence to tradition. When King Edward VIII ascended the throne, his differences from his paternal predecessor were made manifest in his pursuit to marry a twice-divorced American woman, Wallis Simpson.
This paper examines the National Government’s role in preventing Mrs. Simpson from becoming queen and in facilitating the abdication of King Edward. The Government had been predisposed to disfavoring the king and viewed his marriage plan as an extension of his disregard of traditional monarchical values. The Conservative Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin was the principal agent of opposition throughout the abdication crisis. He gave the king an ultimatum in which he offered the choice between the throne and the divorcée. Through Baldwin’s communication with the House of Commons and the governments of the Dominions, his influence over the British press, and his manipulation of information, he created a climate in which King Edward VIII’s abdication was inevitable.