ABDICATION by Brian Inglis


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This is a much longer inventory of the factors that led to the abdication of King Edward VIII than the recently published Beaverbrook recollection -- The Abdication of King Edward VIII (p. 526). This book misses the critical bite and the willingness to judge that Beaverbrook brought to his discussion. (Although nobody will miss Beaverbrook's willingness to congratulate himself.) The author compensates, perhaps over-compensates, with a multitude of details and a more extensive report on some of the less well known figures who either lent a helping hand or inserted a shaky one into the Constitutional crisis arising from l'affaire Simpson. Once again, the King's Story gets condensed, all of it, from early childhood to the point where he left, before the author goes on to examine the general mishandling that attended his departure. Although the author is tenderly respectful of the Duke of Windsor's sensibilities and intelligence, it nevertheless becomes clear that the Prince Charming who became King was a Royal Bumbler, more than a little bit under the spell of his own publicity. He failed to muster inter-family support, his ministers and his people. There is much more here about the eminence grise part played by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the political hay Baldwin made of the King's request for extra-Constitutional consideration. And, of course, there is much more than Beaverbrook cared to acknowledge about the general paralysis of the British press, which had so assiduously covered the superficial life and tours of the King as Prince of Wales. For the people to whom thirty years was only yesterday, this will have the most reader appeal.

Publisher: Macmillan