His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936
Parliament of the United Kingdom
|Long title||An Act to give effect to His Majesty’s declaration of abdication; and for purposes connected therewith.|
|Chapter||1 Edw. 8 & 1 Geo. 6 c. 3|
|Introduced by||Stanley Baldwin|
|Territorial extent||United Kingdom; British Empire|
|Royal Assent||11 December 1936|
|Commencement||11 December 1936|
|Related legislation||Statute of Westminster 1931|
|Status: Current legislation|
|Text of statute as originally enacted|
|Official text of the His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from the UK Statute Law Database|
His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 (1 Edw. 8 & 1 Geo. 6 c. 3) was the Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that recognized and ratified the abdication of King Edward VIII from the thrones of the United Kingdom and some other Commonwealth realms, and passed succession to his brother Prince Albert, Duke of York (who became King George VI). The Act also excluded any possible future descendants of Edward from the line of succession. Edward VIII abdicated in order to marry his lover, Wallis Simpson, after facing opposition from the governments of the United Kingdom and the British dominions (See Edward VIII abdication crisis).
Procedure and timing 
The Act was passed through the 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) gave their permission for the Act to apply in their respective realms. Canada also passed the Succession to the Throne Act 1937 (1 Geo. VI, c.16) to effect changes to the rules of succession in Canada to assure consistency with the changes in the rules then in place in the United Kingdom. South Africa passed His Majesty King Edward the Eighth's Abdication Act, 1937, which declared the abdication to have taken effect on 10 December 1936, i.e. the day before it was effective in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The Irish Free State passed the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act 1936, recognising the Duke of York as King from 12 December 1936, which meant that Edward was King in Ireland one day longer than elsewhere.
Legal background 
The Act was necessary for two main reasons.
First, there is no provision in British law for the sovereign to alter his status as sovereign, except through the due process of law. And no law exists in Britain that grants to the sovereign the right to choose, on his own authority, voluntarily to alter the scope or to discontinue the term of his or her reign. A close reading of the text of Edward's abdication letter reveals this. Edward VIII did not, in the Instrument of Abdication, solemnize as an accomplished fact, through the instrument, his departure from the Throne. The instrument is constructed as a statement of intent: firm intent, but only intent, to attain a future, not yet existent, state of ex-King.
Even in death, it is the laws relating to the succession which operate to recognize through the death a "...demise of the Crown...", which triggers the operation of other laws that choose and recognize the enthronement of the successor, whose oaths, consecration, and coronation only consecrate and ratify the operation of the existent laws. Thus, to abdicate the sovereign had first formally to resign (through a proper, signed, written instrument of abdication, that of course was witnessed; and in person); then, Parliament had to enact legislation which recognized, approved of, and ratified the abdication. Then the King, who at that stage was legally still King, had to give his royal assent to the legislation, which then, and only then, became a law of the United Kingdom, and thereby removed the sovereign from the Throne. Under the Act of Settlement 1701, the senior descendant of the Electress Sophia of Hanover is sovereign in England. The Act of Union 1707 confirmed this for Great Britain. Thus the senior descendant of Sophia who is not excluded by the anti-Catholic provisions of the Act is automatically sovereign, whether willingly or not. If the sovereign abdicates, an Act of Parliament is required to give it legal effect.
Second, the Act ensured that the throne passed to Prince Albert, Duke of York. Any future descendants of Edward VIII would, however, not have a claim to the throne and would not be bound by the Royal Marriages Act 1772.
As soon as King Edward VIII gave his royal assent to this Act (actually delivered orally on his behalf, as is usual, by Lords Commissioners), he was no longer king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The throne immediately passed to Prince Albert, who was proclaimed George VI the next day at St. James's Palace, London.
- Official text of the His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from the UK Statute Law Database
- Official text of the His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 as originally enacted or made within the United Kingdom, from the UK Statute Law Database
- "12 December 1936". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) (House of Commons of the United Kingdom). col. 2199–2221. 12 December 1936