Succession to the Throne Act, 1937

Statute of Westminster 1931 Edward VIII His Majesty King Edward the Eighth's Abdication Act, 1937

Succession to the Throne Act, 1937
Parliament of Canada
Enacted byParliament of Canada
Royal assent31 March 1937
Status: In force

The Succession to the Throne Act, 1937 (1 Geo. VI, c.16) is a 1937 act of the Canadian parliament that ratified the Canadian cabinet's consent to His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936, an act of the United Kingdom parliament that allowed the abdication of Edward VIII. This ratification was of symbolic value only, because under the Statute of Westminster 1931, the UK act was already part of Canadian law by virtue of the Canadian cabinet's prior request and consent.


Edward VIII abdicated in order to marry Wallis Simpson after facing opposition from the governments of the United Kingdom and the Dominions, including Canada's. Edward signed instruments of abdication on December 10, mailing one instrument, with advance notice by cable, to each Dominion; Canada's went to the Governor General, John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir.[1] However, Edward was still king until Royal Assent was granted to His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936, which was passed through the British Houses of Parliament on December 11, with no amendments. Under the terms of the Statute of Westminster 1931, the British parliament could pass legislation for a Dominion only at the request and with the approval of that Dominion's government. The Canadian government duly requested and gave its consent, via an Order in Council of the Privy Council of Canada.[1][2] Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand did likewise. Edward as King-in-Council then issued an Order in his British Privy Council to authorize the inclusion of the Dominions in the Abdication Act.[3] The South African parliament later passed His Majesty King Edward the Eighth's Abdication Act, 1937, backdating George VI's accession in South Africa to December 10, 1936. The Irish Free State did not incorporate the UK act but recognized the abdication in the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act 1936.

Canadian law

The Canadian act ratified the changes to the rules of succession in Canada and assured consistency with the changes in the rules then in place in the United Kingdom and the other Dominions. The Canadian act was not legally required at the time, as the Canadian government's request and consent to His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 had already made it part of Canada's law[2] and the Governor General had already proclaimed the Duke of York as King George VI. (Indeed, Royal Assent to the Canadian bill was granted in the name of George VI.[4]) However, constitutional experts noted that "Whether necessary or not, it was clearly designed to demonstrate Canada's equality with Britain in the British Commonwealth and to display the Canadian aspect of the monarchy."[5] Under present Canadian law, the Canadian government cannot request and consent to any British act becoming part of Canadian law, under both the UK parliament's Canada Act, 1982 (which renounced the right in UK law) and Canadian parliament's Constitution Act, 1982 (which repealed the 1931 provision in Canada).[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b Toffoli, Gary; Benoit, Paul. "More is Needed to Change the Rules of Succession for Canada" (PDF). Canadian Parliamentary Review. Ottawa: Parliament of Canada. 36 (Summer 2013): 10. ISSN 0229-2548. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Anne Twomey (18 September 2014). Professor Anne Twomey - Succession to the Crown: foiled by Canada? (Digital video). London: University College London.
  3. ^ King Edward renounces the throne, The Guardian, December 1936
  4. ^ Various (20 March 2013). In Committee from the Senate: Legal and Constitutional Affairs - March 20, 2013 (Digital video). Ottawa: CPAC. Archived from the original on 13 April 2015.
  5. ^ Herald, Andrew (1990). "Canadian Independence". Simon Fraser University. Retrieved 24 July 2013.