British, Commonwealth, and Irish responses to the abdication of King Edward VIII

Donal Coffey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In late 1936, the Commonwealth was rocked by the abdication crisis. There were three legal elements to this crisis. first, the British Parliament responded with a statute in order to amend the line of the succession to the throne. Secondly, the crisis provided an insight into the evolving nature of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The members of the Commonwealth were consulted before the passage of the British Act. The British legislation was subsequently adopted by different means according to the constitutional conventions of the respective countries. Thirdly, only one member of the British Commonwealth failed to assent to the British legislation. This was the Irish free State. The abdication crisis was perceived in the free State as an opportunity to remove the Representative of the Crown from the internal affairs of the State. Despite this, the British government were prepared to accede to the Irish response to the abdication crisis. This article will analyse the legal situation in relation to the abdication. It consists of three sections. Section one considers the internal British legislative framework and, in particular, the primary British Act engaged by the abdication crisis, the Act of Settlement 1701 (the “1701 Act”).1 Section two examines the necessity for Dominion acquiescence to British proposals in the abdication crisis. This was as a result of the Statute of Westminster 1931. Section three examines the response of the Irish free State to the crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-122
Number of pages28
JournalIrish Jurist
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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