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Bonds of EmpireWest Indians and Britishness from Victoria to Decolonization$
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Anne Spry Rush

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199588558

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199588558.001.0001

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A Model for Secession?

A Model for Secession?

The 1936 Abdication Crisis

(p.75) 3 A Model for Secession?
Bonds of Empire

Anne Spry Rush

Oxford University Press

This chapter traces how middle-class Jamaicans who participated in the public debate about Edward VIII's 1936 abdication understood the effects of his actions on the monarchy and the British people — including themselves as colonial subjects. While they sympathized with Edward's feelings as an individual, most Jamaicans felt that he could not retain the respectability of the crown (and through it the empire's power) if he married a formerly divorced women. As Jamaican commentators framed it, by abdicating, Edward had made the honorable choice, bowing to the people's will in order to preserve Britain's dignity and advance what they considered the British Empire's commitment to democracy. Jamaican reactions to the crisis thus reflected and ultimately reinforced their perception of the British monarch as a symbol of British honor, respectability, and justice.

Keywords:   abdication, British Empire, crown, democracy, Edward VIII, Jamaicans, honor, justice, people's will, respectability

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