Monday, August 11, 2008

The Churchill Series - Aug. 11, 2008

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

I said I'd wrap the Abdication Crisis "series within the series" today.

What better way to begin the wrap than with the commenter's post which "started it all" by responding to my question as to what you would ask Churchill if you could ask him only one question and what you thought he'd say?

Here's the comment:

My question would be as follows: Mr Churchill, do you think that the abdication of Edward VIII not only saved the institution of the monarchy in Britain but also, with the ascension of the stalwart George VI and his wife Elizabeth, provided the public face to the stalwart speeches you gave during the Blitz?

While I am not sure of the answer to the first half of the question, I am certain that he would maintain that the example of the King and Queen sticking it out in Buckingham palace with the two princesses served as a piece of public assurance that the British people were made of the stiff upper lip that would enable them to defeat Hitler and his allies.
If Edward had not abdicated, but gone ahead and married Wallis Simpson, he would've taken Britain and the Commonwealth past the point of crisis into a condition of chaos, one outcome of which would certainly have been a great weakening among British and Commonwealth of their loyalty to the Crown and their sense that the Monarchy guarded their rights.

When, a few years later, Churchill said "we shall defend out island home whatever the cost may be," he was confident the people would respond, in significant measure because of their sense of themselves as a unique and worthy people bound together by a great history and precious common rights, all of that symbolized the monarchy.

I don't know about you but the Abdication Crisis series, for all its shortcomings, has given me a much greater appreciation for what a significant event it was; something not just about a King's wish to marry and the Government's objection to that, but a matter that, had it not been resolved in a way that preserved the constitutional monarchy, would have significantly diminished the chances of Britain and the Commonwealth successfully standing up to the Axis powers.