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The Crown in Crisis

Countdown to the Abdication
Narrated by: Richard Trinder
Length: 11 hrs and 2 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Summary

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Using previously unpublished and rare archival material and new interviews with those who knew Edward and Wallis, The Crown in Crisis is the conclusive exploration of how an unthinkable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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio on our Desktop Site.

©2020 Alexander Larman (P)2020 Orion Publishing Group

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Interesting but not without problems

Interesting new insights into the evolving drama of the abdication crisis of the mid 1930’s. The Author’s personal opinions occasionally intrude into the narrative, at one point alarmingly suggesting that it would have been a good thing if Edward VIII had been assassinated early in his reign.

The book does contain the odd mistake, suggesting Churchill, when a backbencher, made a speech from the despatch box in the House of Commons a big no no. Similarly that the Chamber broke out in applause a thing that would in the 1930 be regarded as deeply unparliamentary, still is today

Nevertheless I am pleased to have read it

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No definitive work

This is not the definitive work on the abdication by a long way. The author is obviously prejudiced against the notions of service and duty: but it is well narrated.
Thankfully the British peoples were delivered of Edward, this deranged, pathetic and unworthy man and his paramour. And blessed by George V1 ( Bertie and his wife Elisabeth The Duchess of York) who took the country through the years of the second world war and beyond. The errant pair, Edward and Wallis got their just deserts. There is an old adage which says 'Be careful what you wish for. You might get it.'

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Abdication = lucky escape

I thought throughout the book the author was from USA, as he kept referring to “the King of England”, with a single exception, when quoting Edward VIII’s abdication speech, which used the proper title!
It does undermine a writer’s credibility when such an obvious mistake is made, but would have been more forgivable in an American writer.
However, it is an interesting story of the crisis in UK which preceded the big much more nasty one of the ‘39-45 war.
Edward VIII would not have been up to the challenge of being head of state throughout WWII and decolonisation. His younger brother Bertie -George VI - & niece Elizabeth maintained a dignified presence in the world.
Churchill was a malign influence in the intense negotiations which threatened the UK constitution as the result of Edward’s determination to marry, willy-nilly, a twice-divorced American adventuress.
The rôle of newspaper barons (unelected, unaccountable, mephistophelian) was already established. The reticence of the UK press was conditional, political, quid pro quo, but abroad royal shenanigans were cash in the bank. It is difficult now to imagine an era when news (and rumour) did not travel instantly.
The reputation of Stanley Baldwin should be re-evaluated in light of his management of the abdication crisis.
Great romance? No. 1936 had far more important issues to deal with than a spoilt playboy king and his obsession with one of his married mistresses.