People's King: The True Story of the Abdication

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The Story of Edward viii's abdication for the woman he loved was the most celebrated love story of the last century. Susan Williams's The People's King follows the six tense weeks leading up to the abdication. Several months before their wedding, the only people who had heard of Wallis Simpson were those people who belonged to the tiny social circle surrounding the royal family. Press coverage and newsreels were strictly censored. Through contemporary letters and diaries, many never before published, Susan ...
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Overview

The Story of Edward viii's abdication for the woman he loved was the most celebrated love story of the last century. Susan Williams's The People's King follows the six tense weeks leading up to the abdication. Several months before their wedding, the only people who had heard of Wallis Simpson were those people who belonged to the tiny social circle surrounding the royal family. Press coverage and newsreels were strictly censored. Through contemporary letters and diaries, many never before published, Susan Williams demonstrates the huge popularity of the King and the tragic events that led to his downfall. This is a powerful and moving story of love, devotion to duty and betrayal. It's the story of a charismatic, radical young king who loved his people and was adored in return. It is the story of a man who, but for the plotting of his enemies, might have reigned for his lifetime, whether married to his beloved Wallis or not. It is a story so compelling that almost seventy years after it played itself out on the newspapers and radio waves of the world, it still continues to move and haunt anyone who knows it.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Today we are likely to see the 1936 abdication of King Edward VIII of Britain as a straightforward case of a king defying the rules of monarchy and accepting the inevitable consequences. Williams, a University of London historian, recreates the key weeks of crisis and effectively argues that the democratically minded king was deliberately ousted by a court and government unwilling to accept a new style of kingship. The king's ill-timed desire to marry American divorc e Wallis Simpson was both a symptom of their problem with him and a convenient excuse. An impressive selection of quotations from private letters and journals shows the British people eager to communicate with their king and influence his decisions in regard to the throne. A large number of them clearly were sympathetic to his marrying and still remaining king. It was the higher ranks of society who accepted Simpson as the king's mistress, but not as his wife. Williams makes a strong case that Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin bullied the king into giving up the throne, cynically isolating him, misrepresenting public and official opinion and refusing to allow him to address the country personally until the crisis was over. Quotes dominate the book, lending immediacy but also creating a repetitive structure as each chapter trots out a new round of contemporary opinion. Royal watchers will perhaps be startled by details of the relationship between the royal family and the state. Many will see instructive parallels between Edward's experience and recent concerns about a constitutional crisis over the possible remarriage of the current Prince of Wales. Illus. not seen by PW. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In this extensively documented retelling of "the most celebrated love story" of the 1930s, Williams (history, Univ. of London) suggests that despite our "conventional-and unflattering-opinions" about Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, there was strong contemporary support for both Edward as "a fine king" and Wallis Simpson as "a reasonable choice for a wife." Indeed, the "betrayal" in the title reflects Williams's conviction that senior government ministers' tactics, rather than Edward's behavior, made the abdication inevitable. Williams draws on hitherto overlooked or unavailable resources, notably, recently released government records and access in the Royal Archives to "ten massive boxes, bursting with thousands of letters and telegrams that were sent to Edward during the weeks of the abdication crisis, from people all over Britain." Evidently, she did not want to address charges that Edward was a Nazi sympathiser. Nevertheless, this is a fast-paced and intelligently written reevaluation of the six intense weeks leading up to Edward's abdication. Highly recommended.-Robert C. Jones, formerly with Central Missouri State Univ., Warrensburg Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403963635
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 1/3/2004
  • Pages: 336

Meet the Author

Susan Williams is a historian at the University of London.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations xi
List of characters xiii
Preface xvii
1 'Something must be done' 1
2 'My own beloved Wallis' 15
3 'The Spirit of the Age' 37
4 'King to marry Wally' 53
5 'I had declared myself' 69
6 'The Battle for the Throne' 86
7 'The People want their King' 104
8 'Tell us the facts, Mr Baldwin!' 119
9 'Cavaliers and Roundheads' 133
10 'Don't abdicate!' 149
11 'Our cock won't fight' 163
12 'God bless you both' 181
13 'Rat Week' 198
14 'We have had such happiness' 213
References 220
Archive sources 263
Bibliography 265
Index 277
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