January 18, 2021

The Crown in Crisis

By Alexander Larman
Review by
In The Crown in Crisis, historian and journalist Alexander Larman details one of the royal family’s biggest scandals: When King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in order to marry his lover, Wallis Simpson.
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In the past 30 years, the British monarchy has kept the tabloids busy with Diana, Charles, Camilla, Harry, Meghan et al. So you would be forgiven for knowing little or nothing about the royal family’s biggest scandal before our current era: when King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in order to marry his lover, Wallis Simpson. Consider filling in the gaps in your knowledge with The Crown in Crisis: Countdown to Abdication by journalist and historian Alexander Larman.

The year was 1936, and Edward was a reluctant monarch, unmarried and lonely. He became enchanted by society gadfly Simpson; some even say he was obsessed with her. That she was married and American (both no-nos according to the British public) did not rein in Edward’s sexual pursuit. If having Simpson as a wife meant finessing her quickie divorce and abdicating his throne, so be it.

Certainly Edward’s determination changed the course of history. Some view his pursuit of Simpson as the ultimate love story, but The Crown in Crisis takes a darker view of his behavior. Simpson seemed less invested in the relationship and was willing to walk away. Larman illustrates how Edward's “patriarchal entitlement” to be with her, no matter what, upended her life and caused enormous suffering. The Crown in Crisis presents Edward as reckless in his love life, as well as in his political associations. (He was more sympathetic to Germany’s ascendant Nazi party than the British government would have liked him to be.) This was a man who enjoyed the perks of his wealth and privilege but shrugged off many of his responsibilities and ran his staff ragged keeping up with his whims.

Larman examines all sides of this unprecedented crisis: the prime minister, the king’s courtiers, media magnates, religious leaders, Nazis, fascists, the couple’s posh friends and even the royal family. He blends previous reporting and newly published archival sources into a deeply researched account that will fascinate royal lovers and history fans alike.

Many aspects of British culture have changed since 1936. In The Crown in Crisis, the appeal of palace intrigue stays the same.

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The Crown in Crisis

The Crown in Crisis

By Alexander Larman
St. Martin's
ISBN 9781250274847

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