King Magnus and King Minus

Stanley Weintraub

in Who's Afraid of Bernard Shaw?

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780813037264
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813041544 | DOI:
King Magnus and King Minus

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)


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In December 1936, Britain was shaken by the crisis of a royal abdication. The events recalled the threat of abdication by King Magnus in Shaw's popular futuristic political comedy of 1929, The Apple Cart. Shaw (at eighty) mocked the ongoing crisis in a playlet, “The King, the Constitution, and the Lady,” which appeared in the Evening Standard, whose proprietor, Lord Beaverbrook, was, with his friend Winston Churchill, on the side of the adulterous Edward VIII. As Shaw felt that upending the conservative Establishment was delicious, and that the king, for the sake of controversy, could conduct his private life as he wanted, the playlet was set in “the Kingdom of the Half-Mad,” where the unnamed king intended to marry the twice-divorced American “Daisy Bell,” the offstage mistress whose name Shaw drew from “A Bicycle Built for Two.” Shaw's king shrewdly outwits the staid Tory prime minister and a weak Archbishop of Canterbury. In reality the mediocre Edward VIII was not up to kingship and preferred Wallis Simpson to the throne; however, knowledge of The Apple Cart and the satirical playlet entered the deliberations as the king relinquished his crown and his brother became George VI.

Keywords: Edward VIII; Wallis Simpson; George VI; King Magnus; Apple Cart; Establishment; abdication; Daisy Bell

Chapter.  7918 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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