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The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an
act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom In the United Kingdom an Act of Parliament is primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary legislation, the latter also called delegated legislation or subordinate leg ...
that sets the basis for the relationship between the
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a perma ...
s and
the Crown The Crown is the state (polity), state in all its aspects within the jurisprudence of the Commonwealth realms and their subdivisions (such as the Crown Dependencies, British Overseas Territories, overseas territories, Provinces and territorie ...

the Crown
. Passed on 11 December 1931, the statute increased the sovereignty of the self-governing
Dominion The word Dominion was used from 1907 to 1948 to refer to one of several self-governing colonies of the British Empire. "Dominion status" was formally accorded to Canada, Australia, Dominion of New Zealand, New Zealand, Dominion of Newfoundland ...

Dominion
s of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
from the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
. It also bound them all to seek each other's approval for changes to monarchical titles and the common line of succession. The statute was effective either immediately or upon ratification. It thus became a statutory embodiment of the principles of equality and common allegiance to the Crown set out in the
Balfour Declaration of 1926 300px, King George V (front, centre) with his prime ministers at the 1926 Imperial Conference.Standing (left to right): Walter Stanley Monroe, Monroe (Newfoundland), Gordon Coates, Coates (New Zealand), Stanley Bruce, Bruce (Australia), J. B. M. ...
. As the statute removed nearly all of the British parliament's authority to legislate for the Dominions, it had the effect of making the Dominions largely sovereign nations in their own right. It was a crucial step in the development of the Dominions as separate states. Its modified versions are now domestic law within
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
and
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, Pacific and northward into the Arctic Oce ...

Canada
; it has been repealed in
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...

New Zealand
and implicitly in former Dominions that are no longer Commonwealth realms.


Application

The Statute of Westminster gave effect to certain political resolutions passed by the
Imperial Conference Imperial Conferences (Colonial Conferences before 1907) were periodic gatherings of government leaders from the self-governing colonies and dominions of the British Empire between 1887 and 1937, before the establishment of regular Meetings of ...
s of 1926 and
1930 Events January * January 6 ** The first diesel engine automobile trip is completed (Indianapolis, Indiana, to New York City) by Clessie Cummins, founder of the company Cummins. ** An early literary character licensing agreement is signed by ...
; in particular, the
Balfour Declaration of 1926 300px, King George V (front, centre) with his prime ministers at the 1926 Imperial Conference.Standing (left to right): Walter Stanley Monroe, Monroe (Newfoundland), Gordon Coates, Coates (New Zealand), Stanley Bruce, Bruce (Australia), J. B. M. ...
. The main effect was the removal of the ability of the British parliament to legislate for the Dominions, part of which also required the repeal of the
Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 The Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 (28 & 29 Vict. c. 63) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body o ...
in its application to the Dominions. King
George V George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert; 3 June 1865 – 20 January 1936) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 until his death in 1936. Born during the reign of his grandmother ...

George V
expressed his desire that the laws of royal succession be exempt from the statute's provisions, but it was determined that this would be contrary to the principles of equality set out in the Balfour Declaration. Both Canada and the Irish Free State pushed for the ability to amend the succession laws themselves and section 2(2) (allowing a Dominion to amend or repeal laws of paramount force, such as the succession laws, insofar as they are part of the law of that Dominion) was included in the Statute of Westminster at Canada's insistence. After the statute was passed, the British parliament could no longer make laws for the Dominions, other than with the request and consent of the government of that Dominion. The statute provides in section 4: It also provides in section 2(1): The whole Statute applied to the
Dominion of Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of ...
, the
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of St ...
, and the
Union of South Africa The Union of South Africa ( nl, Unie van Zuid-Afrika; af, Unie van Suid-Afrika ) was the historical predecessor to the present-day South Africa, Republic of South Africa. It came into existence on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the British ...
without the need for any acts of ratification; the governments of those countries gave their consent to the application of the law to their respective jurisdictions. Section 10 of the statute provided that sections 2 to 6 would apply in the other three Dominions—Australia,
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...

New Zealand
, and
Newfoundland Newfoundland and Labrador (, ) is the easternmost provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada, in the country's Atlantic Canada, Atlantic region. It is composed of the island of Newfoundland (island), Newfoundland and the continental ...
- only after the Parliament of that Dominion had legislated to adopt them. Since 1931, over a dozen new
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a perma ...
s have been created, all of which now hold the same powers as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand over matters of change to the monarchy, though the Statute of Westminster is not part of their laws. Ireland and South Africa are now republics and Newfoundland is now part of Canada as a province.


Australia

Australia adopted sections 2 to 6 of the Statute of Westminster with the
Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942A statute reffers to the body of law that are made by legislature of the nation with instrument which govern the state, country or any nation. it includes laws, rules and the reulation whichhas to be followed by each citizen in the county. A statute ...
, in order to clarify the validity of certain Australian legislation relating to
the Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—forming two opposing m ...
; the adoption was backdated to 3 September 1939, the date that Britain and Australia joined the war. Adopting section 2 of the statute clarified that the Parliament of Australia was able to legislate inconsistently with British legislation, adopting section 3 clarified that it could legislate with extraterritorial effect. Adopting section 4 clarified that Britain could legislate with effect on Australia as a whole only with Australia's request and consent. Nonetheless, under section 9 of the statute, on matters not within Commonwealth power Britain could still legislate with effect in all or any of the Australian states, without the agreement of the Commonwealth although only to the extent of "the constitutional practice existing before the commencement" of the statute. However, this capacity had never been used. In particular, it was not used to implement the result of the
1933 Western Australian secession referendum Image:Westraliasecession3.jpg, Secessionist "How To Vote" card, 1933 A secession referendum was held on 8 April 1933 in the Australian state of Western Australia, on the proposal that the state withdraw from the Government of Australia, Australian ...
, as it did not have the support of the Australian government. All British power to legislate with effect in Australia ended with the
Australia Act 1986 The Australia Act 1986 is the short title of each of a pair of separate but related pieces of legislation: one an Act of the Commonwealth (i.e. federal) Parliament of Australia The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parl ...

Australia Act 1986
, the British version of which says that it was passed with the request and consent of the Australian Parliament, which had obtained the concurrence of the Parliaments of the Australian states.


Canada

This Statute limited the legislative authority of the British parliament over Canada, effectively giving the country legal autonomy as a self-governing Dominion, though the British Parliament retained the power to amend Canada's constitution at the request of the
Parliament of Canada The Parliament of Canada (french: Parlement du Canada) is the Canadian federalism, federal legislature of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and is composed of three parts: the Monarch, the Senate of Canada, Senate, and the House of C ...

Parliament of Canada
. That authority remained in effect until the
Constitution Act, 1982 The ''Constitution Act, 1982'' (french: link=no, Loi constitutionnelle de 1982) is a part of the Constitution of Canada.Formally enacted as Schedule B of the ''Canada Act 1982'', enacted by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Section 60 of t ...
, which transferred it to Canada, the final step to achieving full sovereignty. The
British North America Acts The British North America Acts 1867–1975 are a series of Acts of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary ...
—the written elements (in 1931) of the
Canadian constitution The Constitution of Canada (french: Constitution du Canada) is the supreme law in Canada. It outlines Canada's system of government and the civil and human rights of those who are citizens of Canada and non-citizens in Canada. Its contents ar ...
—were excluded from the application of the statute because of disagreements between the
Canadian provinces The provinces and territories of Canada are sub-national divisions within the geographical areas of Canada under the jurisdiction of the Constitution of Canada, Canadian Constitution. In the 1867 Canadian Confederation, three provinces of Britis ...
and the federal government over how the British North America Acts could be otherwise amended. These disagreements were resolved only in time for the passage of the
Canada Act 1982 The Canada Act 1982 (1982 c. 11; french: Loi de 1982 sur le Canada) is an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may r ...
, thus completing the
patriation Patriation is the political process that led to full Canadian sovereignty The sovereignty of Canada is a major cultural matter in Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, t ...
of the Canadian constitution to Canada. At that time, the Canadian parliament also repealed sections 4 and 7(1) of the Statute of Westminster. The Statute of Westminster remains a part of the constitution of Canada by virtue of section 52(2)(b) of the Constitution Act, 1982. As a consequence of the statute's adoption, the Parliament of Canada gained the ability to abolish appeals to the
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is the highest court of appeal for certain British territories, some Commonwealth countries and a few UK bodies. Established on 13 August 1833 to hear appeals formerly heard by the King-in-Cou ...
. Criminal appeals were abolished in 1933, while civil appeals continued until 1949. The passage of the Statute of Westminster meant that changes in British legislation governing the succession to the throne no longer automatically applied to Canada.


Irish Free State

The
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of St ...
never formally adopted the Statute of Westminster, its Executive Council (cabinet) taking the view that the
Anglo-Irish Treaty The 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty ( ga , An Conradh Angla-Éireannach), commonly known as The Treaty and officially the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was an agreement between the government of the United Kingd ...
of 1921 had already ended Westminster's right to legislate for the Irish Free State. The Free State's constitution gave the Oireachtas "sole and exclusive power of making laws". Hence, even before 1931, the Irish Free State did not arrest
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
and
Royal Air Force The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for th ...
deserters Desertion is the abandonment of a military duty or Military base, post without permission (a Pass (military), pass, Shore leave, liberty or Leave (U.S. military), leave) and is done with the intention of not returning. This contrasts with una ...
on its territory, even though the UK believed post-1922 British laws gave the Free State's
Garda Síochána (; meaning "the Guardian of the Peace"), more commonly referred to as the Gardaí (; "Guardians") or "the Guards", is the national police service of the Republic of Ireland. The service is headed by the Garda Commissioner who is appointed by the ...
the power to do so. The UK's
Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922 The Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922 (Session 2) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, passed in 1922 to enact in UK law the Constitution of the Irish Free State, and to ratify the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty formally. Provisions ...
said, however, " in the ree StateConstitution shall be construed as prejudicing the power of he BritishParliament to make laws affecting the Irish Free State in any case where, in accordance with constitutional practice, Parliament would make laws affecting other self-governing Dominions". Motions of approval of the Report of the Commonwealth Conference had been passed by the Dáil and Seanad in May 1931 and the final form of the Statute of Westminster included the Irish Free State among the Dominions the British Parliament could not legislate for without the Dominion's request and consent. Originally, the UK government had wanted to exclude from the Statute of Westminster the legislation underpinning the 1921 treaty, from which the Free State's constitution had emerged. Executive Council President (Prime Minister)
W. T. Cosgrave William Thomas Cosgrave (6 June 1880 – 16 November 1965) was an Irish Fine Gael politician who served as President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State from 1922 to 1932, Leader of the Opposition The Leader of the Opposition is a ...
objected, although he promised that the Executive Council would not amend the legislation unilaterally. The other Dominions backed Cosgrave and, when an amendment to similar effect was proposed at Westminster by
John Gretton John Gretton, 1st Baron Gretton, (1 September 1867 – 2 June 1947) was a United Kingdom, British businessman and Conservative Party (UK), Conservative politician. Gretton won two gold medals in the 1900 Olympic Games. Life and career Gretton w ...
, parliament duly voted it down. When the statute became law in the UK,
Patrick McGilligan Patrick Joseph McGilligan (12 April 1889 – 15 November 1979) was an Irish Fine Gael politician and lawyer who served as the 14th Attorney General of Ireland from 1954 to 1957, Minister for Finance (Ireland), Minister for Finance from 1948 to 195 ...
, the Free State Minister for External Affairs, stated: "It is a solemn declaration by the British people through their representatives in Parliament that the powers inherent in the Treaty position are what we have proclaimed them to be for the last ten years." He went on to present the statute as largely the fruit of the Free State's efforts to secure for the other Dominions the same benefits it already enjoyed under the treaty. The Statute of Westminster had the effect of making the Irish Free State the first internationally recognised independent Irish state. After
Éamon de Valera Éamon de Valera (, ; first registered as ''George de Valero''; changed some time before 1901 to ''Edward de Valera''; 14 October 1882 – 29 August 1975) was a prominent statesman and political leader in 20th-century Ireland. He served severa ...

Éamon de Valera
led
Fianna Fáil Fianna Fáil (, ; meaning 'Soldiers of Destiny' or 'Warriors of Fál'), officially Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party ( ga, audio=ga-Fianna Fáil.ogg, Fianna Fáil – An Páirtí Poblachtánach), is a conservative Conser ...
to victory in the Free State election of 1932, he began removing the monarchical elements of the Constitution, beginning with the
Oath of Allegiance An oath of allegiance is an oath Traditionally an oath (from Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group who inhabited England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It sha ...
. De Valera initially considered invoking the Statute of Westminster in making these changes, but John J. Hearne advised him not to. Abolishing the Oath of Allegiance in effect
abrogated Abrogation may refer to: * ''Abrogatio'', the Latin term for legal annulment under Roman law * Abrogation of Old Covenant laws, the ending or setting aside of Old Testament stipulations for the New Testament * Abrogation doctrine, a doctrine in Unit ...
the 1921 treaty. Generally, the British thought that this was morally objectionable but legally permitted by the Statute of Westminster. Robert Lyon Moore, a
Southern Unionist In the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, s ...
from
County Donegal County Donegal ( ; ga, Contae Dhún na nGall) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William ...
, challenged the legality of the abolition in the Irish Free State's courts and then appealed to the
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is the highest court of appeal for certain British territories, some Commonwealth countries and a few UK bodies. Established on 13 August 1833 to hear appeals formerly heard by the King-in-Cou ...
(JCPC) in London. However, the Free State had also abolished the right of appeal to the JCPC. In 1935, the JCPC ruled that both abolitions were valid under the Statute of Westminster.''Moore v Attorney General''
9351 I.R.
The Free State, which in 1937 was renamed ''Ireland'', left the Commonwealth in 1949 upon the
coming into force In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by ...
of its
Republic of Ireland Act A republic () is a List of forms of government, form of government in which "supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives". In republics, the country is considered a "public matter", not the Res privata, private concer ...
.


New Zealand

The
Parliament of New Zealand The New Zealand Parliament ( mi, Pāremata Aotearoa) is the unicameral In government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad as ...
adopted the Statute of Westminster by passing its
Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1947 The Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1947 (Public Act no. 38 of 1947) was a constitutional Act of the New Zealand Parliament that formally accepted the full external autonomy offered by the British Parliament. By passing the Act on 25 November ...
in November 1947. The New Zealand Constitution Amendment Act, passed the same year, empowered the New Zealand Parliament to change the constitution, but did not remove the ability of the British Parliament to legislate regarding the New Zealand constitution. The remaining role of the British Parliament was removed by the New Zealand
Constitution Act 1986 The Constitution Act 1986 is an Act of the New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and more than 7 ...
and the Statute of Westminster was repealed in its entirety.


Newfoundland

The
Dominion of Newfoundland The Dominion of Newfoundland was a country in eastern North America, today the modern Canadian province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivis ...
never adopted the Statute of Westminster, especially because of financial troubles and corruption there. By request of the Dominion's government, the United Kingdom established the
Commission of Government Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remuneration)Commissions are a form of variable-pay remuneration for services rendered or products sold. Commissions are a common way to motivate and reward salespeo ...
in 1934, resuming direct rule of Newfoundland. That arrangement remained until Newfoundland became a province of Canada in 1949 following referendums on the issue in 1948.


Union of South Africa

Although the
Union of South Africa The Union of South Africa ( nl, Unie van Zuid-Afrika; af, Unie van Suid-Afrika ) was the historical predecessor to the present-day South Africa, Republic of South Africa. It came into existence on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the British ...
was not among the Dominions that needed to adopt the Statute of Westminster for it to take effect, two laws—the
Status of the Union Act, 1934 The Status of the Union Act, 1934 (Act No. 69 of 1934) was an act of the Parliament of South Africa The Parliament of South Africa is South Africa's legislature; under the present Constitution of South Africa, the bicameral Parliament compris ...
, and the Royal Executive Functions and Seals Act of 1934—were passed to confirm South Africa's status as a sovereign state.


Implications for succession to the throne

The preamble to the Statute of Westminster sets out conventions which affect attempts to change the rules of succession to
the Crown The Crown is the state (polity), state in all its aspects within the jurisprudence of the Commonwealth realms and their subdivisions (such as the Crown Dependencies, British Overseas Territories, overseas territories, Provinces and territorie ...

the Crown
. The second paragraph of the preamble to the statute reads: This means, for example, that any change in any realm to the
Act of Settlement The Act of Settlement is an Acts of the Parliament of England, Act of the Parliament of England that was passed in 1701 to settle the order of succession, succession to the List of English monarchs, English and List of Irish monarchs, Irish cro ...
's provisions barring
Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Laz ...

Roman Catholic
s from the throne would require the unanimous assent of the Parliaments of all the other Commonwealth realms if the shared aspect of the Crown is to be retained. The preamble does not itself contain enforceable provisions, it merely expresses a constitutional convention, albeit one fundamental to the basis of the relationship between the Commonwealth realms. (As sovereign nations, each is free to withdraw from the arrangement, using their respective process for constitutional amendment.) Additionally, per section 4, if a realm wished for a British act amending the Act of Settlement in the UK to become part of that realm's laws, thereby amending the Act of Settlement in that realm, it would have to request and consent to the British act and the British act would have to state that such request and consent had been given. Section 4 of the Statute of Westminster has been repealed in a number of realms, however, and replaced by other constitutional clauses absolutely disallowing the British parliament from legislating for those realms. This has raised some logistical concerns, as it would mean multiple Parliaments would all have to assent to any future changes in any realm to its line of succession, as with the
Perth Agreement The Perth Agreement was made in 2011 by the prime ministers of the sixteen states known as Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized go ...
's proposals to abolish
male-preference primogeniture Primogeniture ( ) is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn legitimate child to inherit Inherit may refer to: * Inheritance, passing on of property after someone's death * Heredity, passing of genetic traits to offspring * Inheritance ( ...
.


Abdication of King Edward VIII

During the
abdication crisis In 1936 a constitutional crisis in the British Empire arose when King-Emperor Edward VIII proposed to marry Wallis Simpson, an American socialite who was divorced from her first husband and was pursuing the divorce of her second. The marriage w ...
in 1936, British Prime Minister
Stanley Baldwin Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, (3 August 186714 December 1947) was a British Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and ...
consulted the Commonwealth prime ministers at the request of King
Edward VIII Edward VIII (Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David; 23 June 1894 – 28 May 1972) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Empire, and Emperor of India from 20 January 1936 until Abdication of Edward VIII, h ...
. The King wanted to marry
Wallis Simpson Wallis, Duchess of Windsor (born Bessie Wallis Warfield; June 19, 1896 – April 24, 1986), known as Wallis Simpson, was an American socialite A socialite is a person, typically a woman from a wealthy and aristocratic background, who is ...
, whom Baldwin and other British politicians considered unacceptable as Queen, as she was an American divorcée. Baldwin was able to get the then five Dominion prime ministers to agree with this and thus register their official disapproval at the King's planned marriage. The King later requested the Commonwealth prime ministers be consulted on a compromise plan, in which he would wed Simpson under a
morganatic marriage Morganatic marriage, sometimes called a left-handed marriage, is a marriage Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock is a culturally and often legally recognized union between people called spouse A religious marriage. A spouse is ...
pursuant to which she would not become queen. Under Baldwin's pressure, this plan was also rejected by the Dominions. All of these negotiations occurred at a diplomatic level and never went to the Commonwealth parliaments. However, the enabling legislation that allowed for the actual abdication (
His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 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 The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assem ...
) did require the assent of each Dominion Parliament to be passed and the request and consent of the Dominion governments so as to allow it to be part of the law of each Dominion. For expediency and to avoid embarrassment, the British government had suggested the Dominion governments regard whoever is monarch of the UK to automatically be their monarch. However, the Dominions rejected this; Prime Minister of Canada
William Lyon Mackenzie King William Lyon Mackenzie King (December 17, 1874 – July 22, 1950) was a Canadian statesman and politician who served as the 10th prime minister of Canada The prime minister of Canada (french: premier ministre du Canada, link=no) is the ...

William Lyon Mackenzie King
pointed out that the Statute of Westminster required Canada's request and consent to any legislation passed by the British Parliament before it could become part of Canada's laws and affect the line of succession in Canada. The text of the British act states that Canada requested and consented (the only Dominion to formally do both) to the act applying in Canada under the Statute of Westminster, while Australia, New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa simply assented. In February 1937, the South African Parliament formally gave its assent by passing
His Majesty King Edward the Eighth's Abdication Act, 1937 His Majesty King Edward the Eighth's Abdication Act, 1937 (Act No. 2 of 1937) was an act of Parliament, act of the Parliament of South Africa that ratified the Edward VIII abdication crisis, abdication of King Edward VIII and the succession to the t ...
, which declared that Edward VIII had abdicated on 10 December 1936; that he and his descendants, if any, would have no right of succession to the throne; and that the
Royal Marriages Act 1772 The Royal Marriages Act 1772 was an act of the Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of UnionAct of Union may refer to: In Great Britain and Ireland * Law ...
would not apply to him or his descendants, if any.May. H.J. (1949). ''The South African Constitution'' The move was largely done for symbolic purposes, in an attempt by Prime Minister J. B. M. Hertzog to assert South Africa's independence from Britain. In Canada, the federal parliament passed the Succession to the Throne Act 1937, to assent to His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act and ratify the government's request and consent to it. In the
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of St ...
,
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
Éamon de Valera Éamon de Valera (, ; first registered as ''George de Valero''; changed some time before 1901 to ''Edward de Valera''; 14 October 1882 – 29 August 1975) was a prominent statesman and political leader in 20th-century Ireland. He served severa ...

Éamon de Valera
used the departure of Edward VIII as an opportunity to remove all explicit mention of the monarch from the
Constitution of the Irish Free State A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organization, or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an ...
, through the Constitution (Amendment No. 27) Act 1936, passed on 11 December 1936. The following day, the External Relations Act provided for the king to carry out certain diplomatic functions, if authorised by law; the same Act also brought Edward VIII's Instrument of Abdication into effect for the purposes of Irish law (s. 3(2)). A new
Constitution of Ireland The Constitution of Ireland ( ga, Bunreacht na hÉireann, ) is the constitution, fundamental law of Republic of Ireland, Ireland. It asserts the national sovereignty of the Irish people. The constitution is broadly within the tradition of libera ...
, with a president, was approved by Irish voters in 1937, with the Irish Free State becoming simply "Ireland", or, in the Irish language, "". However, the head of state of Ireland remained unclear until 1949, when Ireland unambiguously became a republic outside the
Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territories A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the ...

Commonwealth of Nations
by enacting The Republic of Ireland Act 1948.


Commemoration

In some countries where the Statute of Westminster forms a part of the constitution, the anniversary of the date of the passage of the original British statute is commemorated as Statute of Westminster Day. In Canada, it is mandated that, on 11 December, the (as the Union Jack is called by law in Canada) is to be flown at properties owned by the federal Crown, where the requisite second flag pole is available.


See also

*
Chanak Crisis The Chanak Crisis ( tr, Çanakkale Krizi), also called the Chanak Affair and the Chanak Incident, was a war scare in September 1922 between the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as t ...
*
Commonwealth of Nations membership criteria Commonwealth of Nations membership criteria are the corpus of requirements that member states and prospective member states must meet to be allowed to participate in the Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known ...
*
Westminster system The Westminster system or Westminster model is a type of parliamentary A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ...


Notes


References


Further reading

* Bailey, Kenneth H. "The Statute of Westminster." ''Australian Quarterly'' 3.12 (1931): 24-46
online
* Mansergh, Nicholas. ''Survey of British Commonwealth affairs: problems of external policy, 1931-1939'' (Oxford University Press, 1952). * Nicolson, Harold. ''King George V'' (1953) pp 470–488
online
* Plucknett, Theodore FT. "Case and the Statute of Westminster II." ''Columbia Law Review'' (1931): 778-799
online
* Wheare, K. C. ''The Statute of Westminster, 1931'' (Clarendon Press, 1933). * Wheare, K. C. ''The Statute of Westminster and dominion status'' (Oxford University Press, 1953).


External links


Digital reproduction of the Original Act on the Parliamentary Archives catalogue

Australia and the Statute of Westminster
{{DEFAULTSORT:Statute Of Westminster 1931 Commonwealth realms 1931 in law United Kingdom Acts of Parliament 1931
Australian constitutional lawThis category contains articles and cases on Australian constitutional law Constitutional law Constitutional law by country Law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according ...
History of the Commonwealth of Nations Political charters 1931 in international relations Sovereignty British constitutional laws concerning Ireland Australia–United Kingdom relations Canada–United Kingdom relations Ireland–United Kingdom relations New Zealand–United Kingdom relations South Africa–United Kingdom relations December 1931 events Australia and the Commonwealth of Nations Canada and the Commonwealth of Nations Ireland and the Commonwealth of Nations New Zealand and the Commonwealth of Nations
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United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations