The Year of the Three Kings

19/11/2015 16:27  |  Historic UK Coins

1936, the year of The Three Kings, or the Abdication Crisis as it is otherwise known, was a truly remarkable year in royal British history. It is the year that saw three different monarchs sit on the English throne in just eleven months of each other; King George V, his eldest son King Edward VIII and King George VI, Edward’s younger brother.

Upon the death of George V on 20th January1936, his eldest son and heir, Edward VIII, ascended to the throne. George V had made no secret of his misgivings about his eldest son; he had famously prophesied, “After I am dead, the boy will ruin himself in twelve months”. A prophesy that Edward would fulfil, and a month sooner than his father predicted.

Edward was a popular prince but had a notorious ‘playboy’ image. He would cause a royal scandal with the development of his relationship with Wallis Simpson. A divorced American socialite, Wallis was still married to her second husband when she and Edward began their relationship. Upon his ascension to the throne Edward was still unwavering in his commitment to Wallis, but the British public and parliament would never accept a twice divorced woman as their Queen. The government threatened to resign if Edward married Wallis and so he was faced with a difficult ultimatum; he had to choose between the crown and love. On 11th December 1936, Edward had made his choice and announced his abdication, becoming England’s first and only monarch to voluntarily give up their crown.

Following Edward’s abdication, his younger brother, George VI, became the third king of the year. George, though naturally shy and reportedly reluctant to be king, rose to great popularity and respect during his fifteen year reign. During WWII George and his wife Elizabeth’s open displays of care and concern for the country’s population served to significantly increase their popularity. The couple had two children, Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret.

When an extraordinary historical event such as this reaches an important milestone, collector demand for commemorative memorabilia is invariably high. The 80th anniversary of the Year of the Three Kings in 2016 will be no exception. Commemorative coins issued to mark the anniversary have traditionally always been highly sought-after among collectors, not just in the UK but worldwide.

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