In December 1936, Britain faced a constitutional crisis that was the gravest threat to the institution of the monarchy since the execution of Charles I. The ruling monarch, Edward VIII, wished to marry the American divorcée Wallis Simpson and crown her as his Queen. His actions scandalised the establishment, who were desperate to avoid an international embarrassment at a time when war seemed imminent. That the King was rumoured to have Nazi sympathies only strengthened their determination that he should be forced off the throne, by any means necessary.
An influential coalition formed against him, including the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, his private secretary Alec Hardinge, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the editor of the Times. Betrayal and paranoia were everywhere, as MI5 bugged his telephone and his courtiers turned against him. Edward seemed fated to give up Wallis and remain a reluctant ruler, or to abdicate his throne. Yet he had his own supporters, too, including Winston Churchill, the Machiavellian newspaper proprietor Lord Beaverbrook and his brilliant adviser Walter Monckton. They offered him the chance to remain on the throne and keep Wallis. But was the price they asked too high? And what really lay behind the assassination attempt on Edward earlier that year?
Using previously unpublished and rare archival material, and new interviews with those who knew Edward and Wallis, The Crown in Crisis is the conclusive exploration of how an unthinkable and unprecedented event tore the country apart, as its monarch prized his personal happiness above all else. This seismic event has been written about before but never with the ticking-clock suspense and pace of the thriller that it undoubtedly was for all of its participants.
The Crown in Crisis is the definitive book about the events of 1936. Painstakingly researched, incisively written and entirely fresh in its approach, it will bring the events of that time to thrilling life, and in the process appeal to an entirely new audience.
Alexander Larman is an author and journalist. His most recent book, The Crown in Crisis (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2020) is a revelatory history of the abdication saga, using new and previously unknown material to tell the thrilling untold story of the political and legal machinations that led to Edward VIII’s renunciation of the throne.
His previous books include Byron’s Women (Head of Zeus, 2016), an ‘anti-biography’ of the famous poet that focused on nine of the key women in his life, Restoration (Head of Zeus, 2016), a social and narrative history of the year 1...
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