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Edward VIII: The Plot to Topple a King

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Cosmo Gordon Lang, Archbishop of Canterbury during the abdication crisis, is painted here as a shady power broker and poison-dripper; the man whose behind-the-scenes machinations nudged, then pushed, Edward VIII to give up the throne once his affair with Wallis Simpson became public.

Certainly Lang’s radio address to the nation, just two days after the King stepped down, was pompous and inappropriate. One commentator describes Lang as a “ham actor” as we hear him bewail the ex-monarch’s lack of backbone (“strange and sad it must be”). He sounds a bit like Alastair Sim, only not as cuddly.

Lang, a close adviser to George V, thought Edward dissolute, and recruited heavyweight backers, including PM Stanley Baldwin, to remove him from the throne.


An exploration of former archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Gordon Lang's bid to remove the monarch on the grounds that his love for the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson made a mockery of the Crown. Lang worked with Geoffrey Dawson, editor of The Times, and other establishment figures to bring pressure on prime minister Stanley Baldwin to force an abdication, but his public criticism of Edward eventually backfired and his efforts to make the country a more religious place were unsuccessful. Documentary featuring dramatic reconstructions with David Calder.

Cast & Crew

Cosmo Gordon Lang David Calder
Steve John Shepherd
Director Louise Wardle
Producer Louise Wardle

Education Documentary

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