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The Crown in Crisis

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The Crown in Crisis gives us a glimpse into one of the most contentious times in British Royal history, one that set the course for what the modern British royal family is today. Larman uses previously undiscovered documents to reveal a Britain on the edge of chaos, and that the storied love affair between King Edward and Wallis Simpson was not the ideal match that has been described. It shows the political maneuvering and the complicated legal processes that went into the abdication and the global ramifications it had. For people who enjoy learning about the political aspects of this scandal, this is a good book to read.
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I love everything about Britain, the tea, the pints, the history, the pints (!) and particularly the royal family.  This book is a lovely addition to the large canon of books that have already been written on King Edward VIII's abdication. 
It was written more from the perspective of the government's role in aiding, or should I say forcing, the King to leave his post, but it also included accounts of the time period from Wallis Simpson, the King, his family and other members of royal family.
It was very interesting, and as with all good non-fiction books, it made me want to delve deeper into the subject matter.
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Publish Date: January 17 2021

Many know the story of King Edward VIII’s abdication of the throne. This book dives deep into what was going on behind the scenes at the time. While it is a little dry, I find it utterly fascinating. I would recommend to anyone who loves history or the English royalty.

#theroyalmonarchy #thekingsdpeech #wallissimpson #crownincrisis
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When I first heard of the Abdication as a teenager, the entire story of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson seemed liked a romantic and tragic tale.  A handsome KIng gives up all for “the woman I love”.  It was not until later in life, as I read and learned more, I realized there was much more to this fable, as fable it was.  It was more a sad story of someone who has been given gifts few can even imagine who squanders it from lack of character and puts the country he was sworn to defend into chaos so that he could achieve his own selfish goals..  As it turns out, Britain dodged a bullet when Edward abdicated and this book looks into the details that led up to and included that precarious moment.

The book is remarkably fair, even painting Wallis in an almost favourable light.  Yes, she was a gold digger.  Yes, she orchestrated the entire proceedings and in fact was the one in charge in the early stages.  But once she realized how dangerous things had become, she did try to bow out and prevent Edward from self destruction.  He, however, did not believe the word “no” had any relevance in his vocabulary and pushed ahead to the inevitable end.  She comes across as not a particularly nice person to put it mildly.  He comes across as a shallow narcissistic man whom, once his charming surface is scratched, turns out to be, what one pundit called it, “sand”.

Even knowing the details and the outcome, the reader is nonetheless swept along by the narrative.  There were so many people trying to do the right thing and help resolve the issues.  Up until days before the abdication, the British press kept silent while the international press had a field day.  There were agendas on both sides but at the heart of it, there seems to have been that cadre of people whose only goal was to protect The Monarchy and to settle things in the least disruptive manner.  The behind the scenes efforts of so many people is fascinating but doomed to failure because of the nature of the man in the middle.

As it turned out not three years later, the Nation could rejoice that the person on the Throne was George and not Edward for history might have been changed dramatically and not for the better.  It is sad though that a man who was not groomed to be King would carry such a heavy burden and have his health and his life cut short because of it, whilst his brother would swan on for decades.

For the student of history or just someone who enjoys a very well told story, this book is recommended highly.  And if the reader sees some similarities in future generation of Royalty, who shall remain nameless, so be it.  Five purrs and two paws up.
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3.5 Stars

I have read numerous books about the abdication of King Edward VIII so he could marry the American double divorcee, Wallis Simpson.   This particular book is heavily researched and chock full of minute details involving various government officials and quotes from their memoirs.  While I respect the intensive work that must have fueled this literary work, I have enjoyed this version of the story the least.  Other works I’ve read on the subject are historical fiction novels or accounts that humanize the situation between these two parties.  This book was just a little too “dry” for my taste; heavy on facts and quotes but remote in emotion.  I’m sure I’m an outlier and this is a fine book, but it’s just a matter of taste and I choose to DNF this at 60% to move on to something more enjoyable.
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I’ve been on a “Crown” binge and “The King’s Speech” is always worth watching.  That’s why I requested this.

Alexander Larman provides a lot of insight with his research, digging deep into various archives that have recently surfaced.  The historical context observes the voluntary abdication of King Edward VIII and the events leading up to it.  The details surrounding his affair with socialite Wallis Simpson astonishing to say the least, but the biographical content of Edward heightens up the book for me.  I knew the man was mad, but this was a completely different experience, most notably the controversy surrounding the nazi party.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC
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"The Crown In Crisis" presents a well-researched, readable work about the abdication of King Edward VIII from the throne of England, in order to continue his association with the American divorcee Wallis Simpson. The author includes historical content to further explain the political and world situations that were occurring at the time. Part drama and part history, the book will provide an intriguing read for those interested in history and the royal family.

I received this book from the publisher and from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
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**I received and voluntarily read an e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Even as an American (and before Harry and Meghan), the abdication crisis has always intrigued me. The idea that a king would choose love over duty made me wonder what the true story was.

There was a lot of research that I had never heard or read before, but the presentation was lacking. The writing felt a little cramped and wordy and as if the author was trying to cram as much into the book as possible instead of using selections of information to support the story.

Overall, it was well researched, but was a little too dry for my taste.
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
I am odd for a royal historian- I don't have any strong feelings about either Edward or Wallis. I think it is for the best that Edward abdicated due to his political leanings and general temperament. However, I don't think that either are as interesting as people assume. Larman takes a very balanced approach to the abdication and the central figures in it, including the government, and I appreciated it. Drawing on newly released archival sources, Larman works to uncover the full story behind it. I fully admit, I knew pretty much nothing about Lord Beaverbrook and PM Sir Stanley Baldwin, at least in regards to Edward. There were a lot more moving pieces in play than I realised, and Larman has done a fantastic job at exploring all of them. I can't say I came out of this book liking or disliking anyone more than before, but I feel much more informed on the abdication!
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The Crown in Crisis is a well-researched and detailed study of the abdication of British King Edward VIII on the brink of World War II. However, non-Anglophiles may find all the characters and what their jobs entail rather confusing. Though I can envision future university students citing this book in their term papers.

For fans of The Crown, The Crown in Crisis is a nice prequel showing an even more crazy time in the history of British royalty. It makes Meghan and Harry’s exit seem almost mundane. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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I've read about this subject before but the author has done a fantastic job of writing about it here. Very well done. I loved it.
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The Crown in Crisis by Alexander Larman – The Man Who Should Have Never Been King


I wanted to read The Crown in Crisis – Countdown to the Abdication by author Alexander Larman because I had heard about the King Edward VIII’s abdicating the throne for divorcee Mrs. Wallis Simpson.  I didn’t know any of the details other than the fact that Mrs. Simpson was an American who was twice divorced.  It all seemed very romantic and like true love that would bring a man to give up the throne of England to be with his beloved.

Well, I was in for an awakening.  As I write my thoughts about King Edward VIII, I need to divorce my feels about him from what I think about this book.

As the man was portrayed in this book, I found King Edward VIII to be an arrogant, rude, immature, vapid, insufferable, selfish, boring jerk who focused on himself instead of others.  He put himself over and above the Country he had been entrusted with.  Mrs. Wallis Simpson wasn’t much better.  She seemed to be on a quest for power and money and used sex or whatever she had to entrap men, including King Edward VIII.  Wallis was not twice divorced, but once when she started committing adultery with King Edward.  As part of their weird relationship, a plan was implemented for Wallis to divorce her current husband so the two could marry.  But they made it look like Wallis’ husband was the one who was committing adultery and she was the innocent one.  Their adultery was blatant and it fractured Edward’s relationship with his father, King George V.  

Not sure if the book accurately portrayed Kind Edward VIII and Wallace Simpson?  It may have been accurate.  Obviously, when a man is ready to toss the crown away for a woman who uses people, they will make a few enemies along the way.  It was hard to tell if the author had a negative viewpoint of the King and Mrs. Simpson, or if the preponderance of information about them was negative from the people who surrounded them during this timeframe.  

Regarding the book, apart from two very dislikable people, it had some negatives.  The book came across as very gossipy, and you know gossips are not always the most reliable source.  At times, I found the story and scenes confusing in how they were written.  It has long sentences that made the point hard to follow.  There were volumes of people in this book, too many to really tell the story in a straight, interesting understandable manner.  Some of the accounts were very confusing and skipped from one person to another.  There didn’t seem to be a logical order, especially about to the attempted assassination of King Edward VIII.  At times, the author went into too much detail and pursued rabbit trails that took away from the story instead of making it richer.  It seemed like the author had so much information about King Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson from the many, many people that surrounded them that he included it all in the book.  I’m sure he left a lot out, but I found this book was not written in a fashion that made drew the reader in and unveiled what happened during this crisis in an interesting, logical, and organized way.  

I hated the first chapter, it was gross and vile in what was said and seemed to be rumors, innuendo, and speculation as opposed to facts.  Throughout this book, I noted many times that it seemed gossipy.  If I hadn’t agreed to read the book and give a review, I would have closed the book and not finished it.

I did find that the last third of the book interesting.  You would think if someone wanted to walk away from the throne, they could hand over the reins to the next one in line.  Not so.  It was a huge crisis for England and there were a lot of politics and power plays that were happening and of course, family relationships that were impacted.  This was the part of the book that was most interesting.  

King Edward VIII was a man who should have never been king.  From the beginning, I thought it was God’s providence that spared England from a weak self-absorbed king, as the nation would soon be in a war for the survival of their nation and the free world.  

Would I recommend this book?  Probably not.  Take into account the good and bad information and make a decision if you would like to read it.

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read the The Crown in Crisis by Alexander Larman.  I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book and not under any obligation to give a favorable review.
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A fascinating book full of historical facts that will appeal to all. Quotes and letters are shared which allow the reader to follow the abdication, decisions, and journey of King Edward. Highly recommended. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher.
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The Crisis of Edward VIII’s Abdication

Prior to WWII the world was in turmoil. This was accentuated in Great Britain by the love affair between Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. This book presents the history political as well as societal, along with new information that gives a clear view of the turbulent time. 

Edward is presented as a self-absorbed man who put his desires ahead of the good of the country. The author clearly believes that in spite of Edward’s younger brother, George, being a reluctant king, the country was the winner. Wallis Simpson is presented as pragmatic and cold. It isn’t clear that she was ever in love with Edward although he was infatuated with her. She even tried to break it off at one point. 

The scenes of Wallis’ divorce are worth the price of the book. The political and personal machinations that went into that episode are incredible. The assassination attempt on Edward is also fascinating reading. 

This book is filled with historical detail and could have been dull, but the author did an excellent job bringing the characters to life and moving the story at a quick pace. It was almost like reading fiction. 

If you’re fascinated by the tumultuous times before WWII, this is a must read. 

I received this book from St. Martin’s Press for this review.
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This was a very good read. I knew the history (as we all do... we now what happened, of course) but enjoyed this tremendously. This was such an important event. Underrated in its impacts to world history. This was well-written and obviously well-researched. Congrats to the author. Will recommend!
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Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, St Martin’s Press for this Advanced Reader Copy and the opportunity to review “The Crown in Crisis.” All opinions are my own.

2021 gives us “The Crown in Crisis” by Alexander Larman, a fresh look at events surrounding the abdication of Edward, Prince of Wales and then King.  Mr. Larman has thoroughly researched his subject; all the players are here.  Among them, the king and queen, disapproving (and disappointed); Walter Monckton, legal advisor and friend (a better friend than deserved, as the book relates); Winston Churchill, raging in his defense and angry at what he sees – and eager to make his voice heard, detrimentally, as it turned out; the PM, Stanley Baldwin, afraid for his government, his country, and the Commonwealth – and how close ties were to Hitler.  And at the heart of it all, Edward and Mrs. Simpson, going back and forth, first stalwart and then stumbling, unwilling -- or unable -- to see the heart of the threat.  Mr. Larman pulls no punches in describing the utter lack of compassion and understanding that this privileged man, christened “Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David” has toward what he is doing.  It’s quite chilling.

All this the author sets forth in a straightforward fashion, using new information and his own interpretation of the events.  He also makes it quite clear that a better ruler was obtained, and the crown saved; time and tide has borne this forward to us.   The couple eventually turned up on many a society page, there is no doubting the charisma that surrounded them. Eventually, “Edward’s own Helen of Troy,” as the author calls her, slipped back into the pages of history as a sad footnote, nothing more.  But for a while, “The King’s Great Matter,” to borrow a worry from another English king, was a problem indeed, as Mr. Larman eloquently tells us.

As an aside; I have always wondered if anyone speculated who this 42-year-old prince/monarch would be able to marry that was young enough to give the kingdom heirs.  Why not give up, let him have his “doxy,” to use a vulgar phrase popular at the time, and turn all eyes to an heir that was already there?  The one that, ultimately, turned out to be?  This has always intrigued me.  Perhaps it was too delicate a subject.  I have to assume the “threat” of a divorced woman that close to the throne was just too much to be borne.  And an American to boot.  The author points out how this was considered quite “the horror,” in “The Crown in Crisis.”
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When I was in middle school way back in the 1980’s, I saw a TV movie called The Woman He Loved starring Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour and absolutely fell in love with the true-life story of Edward VIII of England, who abdicated his crown for the love of a twice-divorced American woman named Wallis Simpson. After watching the movie, I was hooked. I had to know more about them. And the more I read, the more I realized that the decision to abdicate for love was not all it appeared to be. The Crown in Crisis: Countdown to the Abdication details the main players, and uses documents not previously released to the public to tell the tale. I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest review.

From the publisher: “On December 10, 1936, King Edward VIII brought a great international drama to a close when he abdicated, renouncing the throne of the United Kingdom for himself and his heirs. The reason he gave when addressing his subjects was that he could not fulfill his duties without the woman he loved—the notorious American divorcee Wallis Simpson—by his side. His actions scandalized the establishment, who were desperate to avoid an international embarrassment at a time when war seemed imminent. That the King was rumored to have Nazi sympathies only strengthened their determination that he should be forced off the throne, by any means necessary.”

“I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.” — Edward VIII

It all sounds so romantic, but the true story of Edward VIII’s departure from the British monarchy is hardly that simple. It was, however, the story much of the world remembered for decades. As time has passed, new letters and official documents relating to the abdication have been released, and they tell a different story. The Crown in Crisis: Countdown to the Abdication uses many of those documents to weave a tale that reads like a novel.

Edward (called David by his intimates) was a lot of things. He was utterly charming as Prince of Wales, doing his royal duties his father picked out for him. But he was a vain (rumored to be anorexic, too, he was so obsessed with staying fit and trim), self-centered, Godless (important to note if one is to be the head of the Church of England), xenophobic, nationalistic, mercenary of a man who, even as a little boy, declared he never wanted to be king. He adored all the trappings that royal life brought to him, but none of the duties, even though he was, as mentioned, quite good at it.

While he was Prince of Wales, Edward had a series of long-term affairs, mostly with high society woman, almost always married. It was considered acceptable at the time that married people of a certain stature could commit adultery. Edward’s own grandfather, Edward VII, had a long-term affair with a woman named Alice Keppel (who just so happens to be the great-grandmother of Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles’ wife).

King George V, Edward’s father, did not get along with Edward at all and had no faith in his abilities. He was famously to have said, not long after meeting Wallis Simpson, “after I am dead, the boy will ruin himself in twelve months,” and even went so far as to tell an intimate, “I pray to God that my eldest son will never marry and have children, and that nothing will come between Bertie and Lilibet and the throne.” He was proved right, as Edward reigned only 326 days.

Edward’s met Wallis Simpson in 1932, introduced by his then-current lady friend, the married Lady Thelma Furness, also an American. (For more reading on Lady Furness, you could try the historical novel The Woman Before Wallis (review here). Thelma was the twin to Gloria Vanderbilt, who was in the middle of a custody dispute for her daughter, Little Gloria (the famed designer and mother of TV Anchor Anderson Cooper). You can read more about the custody case in Little Gloria… Happy at Last (review here). Thelma had to go to America to lend support to her sister and asked Wallis to look over “the little man.” Wallis did such a good job of taking care of the Prince of Wales that Thelma was written out of his life when she returned.

At the time, all the major and minor newspapers in Great Britain had a gentleman’s agreement with the palace that private affairs of the royals would remain private. So the common man and woman had no idea about the prince and his affairs, but it was reported in other countries and their newspapers, most especially the United States. So when King George died and Edward became King, the newspapers knew they could not hold back the information much longer. The good news for the king was that the heads of the major newspapers were on his side and stroked his ego, insisting he could get away with marrying a twice-divorced American and make her Queen. The British government had other ideas.

Wallis Simpson is often portrayed as the villain in this story, power-hungry and someone who was sort of a sexual dominatrix to the king, but as letters and documents have shown, she tried to break away from the king several times, although not too forcefully. She wrote to the king “The possession of beautiful things is thrilling to me and much appreciated but weighed against a calm, congenial life I choose the latter.” Wallis said more than once she wished to return to her husband, Ernest, “I have the deepest affection and respect for him. I feel I am better with him than with you–so you must understand… I am sure you and I would only create disaster together.” But Edward was a man obsessed with his love for Wallis, and threatened suicide if she did not return to him. So she did. This scenario played out several times during the crisis, with Edward telling her that if she left him, he would track her down. Wallis seemed to genuinely care for Edward, but most agree she wasn’t in love with him. She was more attracted to the lifestyle than the man.

The bulk of the book is the machinations of Edward, Lord Beaverbrook, Walter Monckton (Edward’s solicitor and advisor), Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, and Winston Churchill, who was the one who suggested a morganatic marriage, whereby two partners of unequal social ranks are married, with the provision that any children from such a marriage could not inherit the throne.

I had no idea there had been an assassination attempt made on King Edward’s life during his short reign, nor did I know that MI-5 (sort of like the FBI in America) bugged the phones of the major players, including the King, Wallis Simpson, and Prince Albert (later George VI). I did know that once the newspaper gag was lifted, public support seemed to be on the king’s side. The Parliament, however, worried about fractures, with a so-called “King’s Party” being formed. The Prime Minister, did not want the government to divide into those for the king, and those against. That sort of thinking was fine for other countries, but not in Great Britain. Even though they were part of the Liberal or Conservative party, they were all “for the king.” Baldwin did not want to be responsible for a civil war, one fought “in words and not in blood.” There were also concerns with Edward’s coziness with German diplomats and how he supported some of Hitler’s socialist programs. The king was supposed to stay above politics, not dive in and offer opinions on them.

Edward knew deep down that he would abdicate because he really didn’t want the job anyway, meeting with his brother Bertie in mid-November, just to let him know what was going on with the crisis. Then he didn’t talk to his brother for almost a month! Bertie found out for sure that he was to become king about five days before it actually happened. Winston Churchill helped Edward write his farewell speech, and Bertie became King George VI. His daughter, Elizabeth, has reigned as Queen since 1952.

The Crown in Crisis doesn’t go into detail into the afterward of the crisis and how the division with his family widened for years, then relaxed a little closer to Edward’s death, although the author did note that he stayed close to his sister, Mary, who is rarely mentioned in royal histories.

The once romantic tale of giving up power to be with the one you love doesn’t ring true anymore. It’s a nice fairy tale. And The Crown in Crisis reveals the many details that went into the decision that changed the course of the British Monarchy.

The Crown in Crisis is being released January 19, 2021.
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This is a very well researched book that reads like a novel. The story of Edward and Wallis is a romance that fascinates just about everybody. In this new entry in the list of books about them much is new information that has been released and the author also connected with people who had their own information to add. Everything is well documented with footnotes.
More than the romance, the focus is on the abdication and all of the players. With each name mentioned I found myself wanting to make a list of them for future reading. The things I learned about the rules of abdication made this a very enjoyable read. I had no idea what Edward was up against.
My thanks to the publisher St. Martin's and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
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The short reign of England's King Edward VIII lasted less than a year.  It began in January 1936 when his father, King George V died, and it ended abruptly early that December, when his younger brother took the throne as King George VI.    This book is a brisk fascinating narrative account of the controversy which ended Edward's reign, mostly his plan to marry a married American woman, Wallis Simpson.  He and Simpson had been more or less living together for several months even before he became king.  They embarked on a scandalous Adriatic cruise in the summer of 1936.  The British press knew about these dalliances but was silent about them, leaving most of the English people in the dark.  

The book reads like fiction, even though it is based on actual events.  While the whole year is covered, the last few days of the Edward's reign is described in breathless detail, drawing upon contemporaneous diary entries of people involved in events.  Even though the ultimate outcome is known to most readers, you are drawn step-by-step to the story, wanting to know what happened next. 

It is not a hagiography as are many accounts of the British royals.   Edward is shown as a tragic figure, selfish and shallow, rejecting his family and the throne for Wallis Simpson. The trouble with Edward was brewing for a long time, even while his father was still living.  He was unsuited to be king and there was some suggestion when he was Prince of Wales that it would be best if he would fall off his horse (and die) before he could come to the throne.  There was a mysterious attempt on his life in the spring of 1936 (while he was king) that is suggested to have some connection to the British secret service.  There is the view that his younger brother (the future King George VI) was favoured to be king, even by George V and Queen Mary, the parents.

This author is more balanced in his views of Simpson than others have been. However, he casts doubt on whether she really loved Edward at all.  At least, she was not obsessed with him to the extent that he was obsessed with her.  Simpson is a mystery woman: stirred strong reactions: like or hate. In the first chapter, the author recounts the Nazi designs on the potential future queen, who was being wooed by Hitler's ambassador to Britain, von Ribbentrop.  There is also the concern that Edward had pro-Nazi sentiments. Many in the British aristocracy (e.g. Lady Cunard) were sympathetic to the Nazi cause out of a fear of communism.   There is no strong sense about what the man in the street thought about the King and Mrs. Simpson.

Aside from Edward and Wallace, several key people stand out.  An out-of-power maverick politician, Winston Churchill was a firm supporter of Edward.  Walter Monckton, Edward's lawyer, was loyal to him throughout the whole time.  Press barons like Lord Beaverbrook rattled around in the background, eager to eventually use Edward's story to sell newspapers. British Prime Minister Baldwin was tireless in his efforts to resolve the looming "crisis", to save his government.  

Edward's story was playing out as World War II loomed at the horizon. The struggle over appeasement was soon to take centre stage.   In the end, Britain got a stronger king in George VI, which is probably a good thing.  Edward's sole impact on events seems to be his abdication.  This book is not a magisterial tome of the life and times of Edward VIII; the time following his abdication is left for other writers. 

Recommended reading for fans of the British royalty as well as those interested in the interwar years.

I requested and received a complementary advanced reading copy of the eBook from the publisher St. Martin's Press, via Netgalley.  The comments about it are my own.
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Society has its privilege. If a society doesn't have its privilege it wouldn't be a society. 
  Royalty on the other hand has a set of rules that been in place going back centuries. One has to adhere to these rules. 
  
 In Alexander Larman's excellent and extremely well research novel; The Crown in Crises: Countdown to Abdication, the reader can see how the forces that kept the rules for Royalty from crashing down from within. There is a breech in the gap that needed to be fixed or else Royalty would just be like any other society. 

 Edward otherwise known as David is the oldest son of King George V. The author shows how Edward sort of floundered around trying to figure out what it means to be a member of Royalty. His parents King George V and Queen Mary began early to show Edward a cold shoulder. Things really came to a head and the wall that separated Royalty from the rest begin to show its weakness like a breech had been opened when Edward brought a woman who was divorced and currently married to dinner. King George V knowing that this woman was a intruder upon Royal society became angry and told his Minister's that in know way would Edward inherit the crown and if he did make sure he doesn't stay long. 

  The rest of the story deals with different people on either  side, those supporting Edward VII decision to eventually marry Wallis Simpson, and the opposition which includes the church and those who want to maintain a certain decorum. 
  An assassination attempt on King Edward VII is told as is the divorce proceedings of Wallis Simpson. The papers were also at the time going either one way or the other. Those intent on keeping the centuries old tradition alive began to push King Edward VII out.
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