Abdication Crisis - Political And Social Impacts On Britain - Modern History - Essay

1448 words - 6 pages

Assess the Political and Social impacts on Britain of King Edward’s Abdication
The abdication of King Edward VIII brought many consequences to Britain, both beneficial
and disadvantageous through political and social aspects. His abdication left a promising
role for his younger brother King George VI, as it provided him with the opportunity to give
Britain a traditional leader. The choice Edward had made for his marriage had largely
affected his life as he was no longer allowed to visit his homeland without the approval of
his elder brother. Nonetheless, the crisis would have never of taken place without Wallis
Simpson, leaving her with a lifetime of harassment from society. The Abdication left
Queen Elizabeth II with an immense amount of responsibilities as head of state, vowing to
the Commonwealth that she would put her role as Queen above her own welfare. It is
clear that the Abdication Crisis had left critical impacts on those involved, leaving some
with a heavy burden, whilst providing others with vast amounts of respect.
The Abdication Crisis was favourable in the succession of King George VI as the British
Monarchy were in need of a traditional leader who would preserve its power. King Edward
was considered a controversial leader who posed a threat to the stability of the Monarchy,
as his disregard for the established traditions proved his unsuitable role as King. When
George VI came to the throne, he preserved the monarchy's position in the modern world.
This was done through his following of the traditional domestic values and the
parliament's authority that was used by his father during World War I. King George VI was
able to lead the Monarchy through one of the biggest threats to both Britain's Monarchy
and existence, which was World War II. George's primary focus was to "strengthen the
sense of community", also dedicating his position on the throne to distance himself from
the hardships that his elder brother King Edward VIII faced. George resembled his father
through his image as a humble family man, thus receiving support from the people of
Britain. After he had signed Edward's instrument of abdication, he was greeted by
"thousands of Londoners" at the front of his home on his arrival from Fort Belvedere on
December 10. The reason behind the new King's popularity can be seen in an article by
the New York Times stating "He has never made a slip in his private or public life. Above
all, he has been what the home-loving British people call a happy ‘family man.’ He has
been modest in his personal life, careful in the choice of his friends, devoted to his British-
born wife and a perfect father of two little princesses, one of whom may rule one day as
another Queen Elizabeth." Ultimately, King George VI was able to do what King Edward
VIII could not. The years following the Abdication Crisis, George VI and his family were
able to present themselves accordingly through the use of established traditions, keeping
public spirit and enthusiasm for the monarchy high.
As opposed to his younger brother, the Abdication Crisis had an unfavourable political
impact upon Edward as he was no longer able to travel to England, requiring permission
from the King to do so. Known after his abdication as the Duke of Windsor, both the Duke
and Wallis were forced into self-exile from his homeland in Britain. An agreement was
proposed after the discussions with Edward's solicitors in December 1937, stating that he
could only return to England with the permission of his brother, King George VI, whom
unlike his elder brother, acted upon the advice of the government. Naturally, the Duke was
unsettled by the proposition, expressing his concerns through a seven-page handwritten
note on December 22, 1937, to Neville Chamberlain: "I never intended, nor would I ever
have agreed, to renounce my native land or my right to return to it for all time. I regard
such a proposal as both unfair and intolerable, as it would be tantamount to my accepting
payment for remaining in exile.". Edward further expressed his regard when he had
written about his sensitivity towards public opinion and how he could never remain in a
country for a long period of time, in which his presence felt unwelcomed. He had strong
loyalty and support for his brother as King, stating how he would never cause disruptive
action in others. As a result of his abdication, Edward was forced to exile from his
homeland and lost rights to visit his country freely.
Wallis Simpson suffered a substantial amount from her partner's abdication socially, as
she is responsible for changing the British royal family forever. She was shunned by
society and gained a lot of harassment from the press. The people in which she
considered to be her social circle were also shunned by society in some form, as King
George VI ordered those who were loyal to the crown to disregard those within Simpson's
social circle. These people included her primarily American-born friends Lady Cunard,
Chips Channon, Laura Corrigan, Lady Mendl, and others, including Perry Brownlow who
all experienced a similar neglect to Wallis. Perry Brownlow is the most well-known person
within her social circle as he followed Simpson on her exile to France, consequently being
ignored whenever he attended his exclusive club. Because Wallis and those regularly
seen around her received neglect from society, she faced a lot of betrayal from friends as
Emerald Cunard had stated that she had never met her. Wallis experienced betrayal from
the Churchills, Chips Channon, and both Lord and Lady Granard who had all verbally
attacked the previous King and Simpson. Wallis was faced with hated every day because
of the crisis, receiving harsh criticism anonymously each morning in the postbag. She
would eventually become depressed because of the threatening letters and hatred she
received. However, her good friend Herman Rogers had told her "You are in for a
miserable and unhappy life unless you learn to ignore the lies and inventions, and to say
to yourself over and over again, ‘I won’t let it get me down.'". Because of Simpson's
leading involvement in the Abdication Crisis, she was met with an abundant amount of
loathing that had a large impact upon her social life.
The crisis had a significant impact upon Queen Elizabeth II, making vows after her
father's death to the Commonwealth, stating that she would place her responsibilities as
Queen above her own welfare. "Abdication is a dirty word in her language. She would
never step down.", this is a quote by Gordon Rayner, previously acting upon the role as
royal correspondent for Britain's Daily Telegraph. He further states how Queen Elizabeth II
is a powerful woman whom would never take a vow and not follow through with it. In
1947 whilst she was still a Princess she had spoken to the nation declaring "all that my
whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service." The Crisis in 1936
ultimately led to Elizabeth's father becoming the new King, which then resulted in the 10-
year-old princess becoming the next in line to the throne. The abdication caused a painful
time in history, considered to be one of the biggest crises in the modern monarchy. This
had severe effects to Queen Elizabeth II and her family, as it had also been responsible for
causing damage to the Royal Family. It was her Uncle's decision that had evidently
changed the course of her life from seemingly carefree, to eventually becoming the most
famous woman in the world. As a result of her Uncle's abdication, the Queen has
developed a strong sense of duty and devotion for her country, as she has become the
longest reigning monarch in history.
King Edward VIII is the only King in history to have given up the throne voluntarily by his
abdication, which certainly left an extensive amount of impacts upon those involved. His
younger brother succeeded to the throne as King George VI, providing Britain with a
traditional leader in place of the disregard Edward had for his role as monarch. Whilst his
eldest brother was being praised as a proficient king, Edward was faced with self-exile
from Britian, no longer capable of visiting his home country unless permitted by the new
King. Wallis Simpson clearly suffered a great ordeal from her role in the Abdication,
receiving countless hate for her partner's decision which affected her social life. The crisis
changed the Queen's course of life, assigning her with responsibilities in which she would
recognise over her welfare. As a result, the Abdication in 1936 led to a constitutional
crisis that changed British monarchy forever.

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