King and PM Talk at Cross Purposes

Behind the Scenes

Monday 16th November 1936

Stung by the letter from his Private Secretary, Alec Hardinge, warning him of the risk that his behaviour might trigger a Constitutional crisis and which he took as coming direct from the government, the King summoned Baldwin to Buckingham Palace and preempted the discussion by telling him, unprompted, that he intended to marry Mrs. Simpson and was prepared to abdicate if he were not able to. Baldwin took this as a statement of his intention to abdicate, but in fact the King believed that Baldwin was misreading public opinion and was determined to fight. This was to prove a major breakdown in communication.

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