1936 – Edward VII of England abdicates

It was a serious business: there were pressing legal, moral, theological and political reasons why the King of England could not marry an American divorcee. But such was King Edward VII’s love for Wallis Simpson that he was prepared to ignore all those things. The heart wants what the heart wants.

But ignore them he could not: as King, he was head of the Church of England, which at that time forbade the marriage of divorced people. Moreover, many citizens of the nations of the British Empire – Britain not least among them – did not want a twice-divorced American as their Queen. The establishment in England tended to view Wallis Simpson as little more than a gold digger.

Edward remained stubborn, and on the 10th of December, 1936, he announced his abdication from the throne (although under law, it was not legally binding until Parliament ratified it). Edward’s brother became the next king, George VI, and Edward was created the Duke of Windsor, and upon their marriage, Wallis Simpson became the Duchess of Windsor.

Referenced in:

Edward VII — Lord Caresser
Life Between the Wars — Al Stewart
Blessed Are The Meek — Status Quo

1992 – Paul Keating makes the “Redfern” speech

Written either by Don Watson (Keating’s cheif speechwriter) or Keating himself – the two disagree on this point – there is no doubting that the Redfern Speech of 1992 was one of the most significant events of Paul Keating’s term as Prime Minister of Australia. In it, Keating as head of state of Australia, for the first time acknowledged the responsibility of European invaders for the injustices committed – both in the past and ongoign – against the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.

It fell a ways short of being an apology – that would come later – but it was a stunning statement of responsibility for a nation that has usually preferred (as the speech itself pointed out) to blame the native victims of these injustices for causing them.

Links to the text of the speech, plus sound and video recordings of it, can be found here.

Referenced in:

Redfern — Keating! The Musical original cast
The Ballad of Paul Keating — This Is Serious Mum