- His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936
His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 c. 3 was the Act of the
British Parliamentthat allowed King Edward VIII to abdicate the throne, and passed succession to Prince Albert, Duke of York. Edward VIII abdicated in order to marry his lover, Wallis Simpson, after facing opposition from the government of the United Kingdom and the British dominions (See Abdication Crisis of Edward VIII). Although Edward VIII had signed a declaration of abdication the previous day, he was still King until he gave royal assentto this Act.
The Act was passed through the Houses of Parliament in one day, with no amendments. As the
Statute of Westminster 1931stipulated that the line of succession must remain the same throughout the Crown's realms, the governments of some of the British dominions ( Canada, Australia, the Union of South Africa, and New Zealand) gave their permission for the Act to apply in their respective realms. Canadaalso passed the " Succession to the Throne Act" (1 Geo. VI, c.16) to effect changes to the rules of succession in Canada to assure consistency with the changes in the rules then in place in the United Kingdom. The Irish Free Statepassed the "External Relations Act", recognising the Duke of York as King; however, the Irish act passed one day later than the acts in the other Dominions, which meant that Edward was King in Ireland one day longer than elsewhere.
The Act was necessary for two main reasons.
*First, there is no provision in British law for the sovereign to abdicate. The
Act of Settlement 1701ensured that the senior descendant of the Electress Sophia of Hanoverwas sovereign in England. The Act of Union 1707confirmed this for Great Britain. Thus the senior descendant of Sophia is automatically sovereign, whether they wish to be or not. If the sovereign abdicates, an Act of Parliament is required to give it legal effect.
*Second, the Act ensured that the throne passed over to Prince Albert, Duke of York, but that it did not exclude other descendants of the Electress Sophia from the
line of succession. Any future descendants of Edward VIII would, however, not have a claim to the throne and would not be bound by the Royal Marriages Act 1772.
As soon as King Edward VIII gave his royal assent to this Act (actually delivered orally on his behalf, as is usual, by Lords Commissioners in the House of Lords), he was no longer King of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The throne immediately passed to Prince Albert, Duke of York, who was proclaimed George VI the next day at St. James's Palace, London.
* [http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/content.aspx?LegType=All+Legislation&title=His+Majesty's+Declaration+of+Abdication+Act&searchEnacted=0&extentMatchOnly=0&confersPower=0&blanketAmendment=0&sortAlpha=0&TYPE=QS&PageNumber=1&NavFrom=0&parentActiveTextDocId=1083735&ActiveTextDocId=1083735&filesize=6214 The text of the act as amended and in force today retrieved from the Statute Law Database]
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