Will King Charles III abdicate the throne? Abdication meaning, process, when and why did Edward VIII abdicate

King Charles III has become UK head of state after his mother, the Queen, died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland

King Charles III is due to deliver an address to the UK on Friday (9 September) as the country enters a period of national mourning.

It is expected that he will be crowned once a sufficient period of time has passed since Queen Elizabeth II’s death.

But does he have to accept the throne - and have any other monarchs abdicated?

Charles III is unlikely to abdicate the throne (image: AFP/Getty Images)


What does abdicate mean?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the word ‘abdicate’ is a verb meaning: ‘To stop controlling or managing something that you are in charge of.’

It is normally used in relation to the monarchy.

If a king or queen abdicates, it means they have made a formal statement that they no longer want to serve in the role.

Why did King Edward VIII abdicate the throne?

There is precedent in the UK for a monarch abdicating the throne.


King Edward VIII - the Queen’s uncle - was UK head of state for just 326 days before resigning on 10 December 1936.

King Edward VIII was Queen Elizabeth II’s uncle (image: Getty Images)

Along with his brothers - including Albert, who later became George VI - King Edward signed an ‘Instrument of Abdication’, which was an official document declaring his intention to step down as King.

It read: “I, Edward the Eighth, of Great Britain, Ireland, and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Emperor of India, do hereby declare My irrevocable determination to renounce the Throne for Myself and for My descendants, and My desire that effect should be to this Instrument of Abdication immediately.”

The document had to be voted on by Parliament on 11 December before Edward could officially be removed as head of state.


The reason why he stood down was because he wanted to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

Other Royals, the Church of England and the politicians of the time were almost unanimously against the idea that the monarch would marry someone who had been married before.

In a radio broadcast that went out after his abdication became official, the King said it was “impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King” without the “help and support” of Ms Simpson.

King Edward VIII’s abdication was a massive scandal in the UK at the time (image: Getty Images)

After stepping down, Edward moved to France and married Ms Simpson in June 1937.

He was given the title Duke of Windsor by the Queen’s father - George VI - and mostly lived abroad until his death in 1972.


Will King Charles III abdicate the throne?

It seems to be highly unlikely King Charles III would abdicate the throne.

Given he has spent the best part of his 73 years being primed as a future king, Charles is likely to reign until he either dies or becomes incapable of ruling.

King Charles III will address the nation before leading the national period of mourning (image: AFP/Getty Images)

The only question has been whether his son Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, would be made King in his stead given he is much younger than his father.

But this eventuality seems highly unlikely.


If Charles III were to abdicate, however, it is likely the process would be similar to that which King Edward VIII went through.