The British Royal Family

· Popular culture

In 1936, there were three different kings who were sovereign over Britain. King George V had reigned since 1910, when King Edward VII died. George V’s son, Edward VIII, reigned only for less than a year. Can you imagine giving up the throne for the person you love? That is what happened in 1936. After the Abdication (which means giving up the throne), George VI took the throne. He reigned until he died in 1952, when Queen Elizabeth II (the current queen) ascended the throne.


There is a good deal of hypocrisy on the subject because one of the main reasons why it was thought that Edward VIII was not suitable to sit on the throne was because he wanted to marry a woman who was divorced, Mrs. Wallis Simpson. Nowadays that seems positively tame. It remains a mystery why Edward VIII did not simply tell his government that he was going to marry whom he chose, and if he needed to get new ministers, then that is what would have to happen. One theory is that Queen Elizabeth, his consort, who would become the Queen Mother after the ascension of her daughter Elizabeth II to the throne, manipulated things behind the scenes so that her husband would be able to rule Britain. Be that as it may, it suggests that Edward VIII was a rather weak man, given that he was able to be manipulated so easily, either by ministers, his sister-in-law (George VI was his brother, next in line to the throne). It is interesting to wonder what would have happened if Edward VIII had remained on the throne. George VI was not a particularly prepossessing man and at first did not engender a lot of respect from his people. However, he and Queen Elizabeth impressed the Western world with their leadership during World War II. In spite of this, Britain’s fortunes did fall, partly because of the War during this time frame. Britain still has not recovered its former glory that it enjoyed when it was such a great colonial and imperial power. By all accounts, Elizabeth II has been a very successful queen in terms of general respect, so perhaps that decision in 1936 helped lend legitimacy to the monarchy. It is hard to say. What do you think? 

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