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The next day, after signing the Act of Abdication, the last act of his reign was the royal assent to His Majesty’s Declaration of Abdication Act 1936. As required by the Statute of Westminster, all the Dominions had already consented to the abdication.

Although Edward VIII had signed a declaration of abdication the previous day—December 10, 1936—he remained king until giving Royal Assent to His Majesty’s Declaration of Abdication Act, which he did onDecember 11, at 1.52 p.m., and the Act became immediately effective from that time. Ironically, his last act as king was giving the royal assent to his own abdication.


His brother, the Duke of York, succeeded to the throne as George VI. Instead of becoming King Albert, his given name, he selected the name George to suggest continuity with his father George V. King George VI’s elder daughter, Princess Elizabeth, became heir presumptive.

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King George VI of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The act was passed through the British Houses of Parliament in one day, with no amendments. As the Statute of Westminster 1931 stipulated 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—requested and gave their permission for the act to become part of the law of their respective realms.

Prince Edward giving his abdication speech.

On the night of December 11, 1936, Edward, now reverted to the title and style of a prince, explained his decision to abdicate in a worldwide radio broadcast. He famously said, “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.” He added that the “decision was mine and mine alone … The other person most nearly concerned has tried up to the last to persuade me to take a different course”. Edward departed Britain for Austria the following day; he was unable to join Simpson until her divorce became absolute, several months later.