Volume 4 1932~1936

Doc No.

No. 341 NAI 2003/17/181

Letter from John W. Dulanty to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

London, 10 June 1936

Owing to the Levee which was held at Buckingham Palace yesterday and to other engagements it was not possible to make an appointment with either the King or Lord Wigram.

Lord Wigram suggested that I should see him today. In the light of my telephone conversation with the Secretary late on Tuesday evening and his telephone message to Miss Foxe this morning I delivered the Submission and Memorandum to Lord Wigram,1 explaining that I had come thus early with these documents because of the President's desire to treat the King with all courtesy by giving as early an intimation as possible of the Government's decision to establish in due course a new Constitution for Saorstaát Éireann.

Lord Wigram seemed disquieted at the proposal to abolish the office of the Governor General. He said that the relations between the President and the King had thus far been friendly. He appreciated the consideration which the President had shown, sometimes, he suspected, in circumstances of difficulty to the President, e.g. the termination of Mr. James McNeill's appointment. He was sorry that we were not allowing matters to continue as they were. He would retire from his office on the 20th July next and he would have wished that he might, to use his own words, 'have gone from the King before any serious difficulty arose between him and the Irish Government'. He had a copy of the Treaty in his hand and remarked that he feared the British Government might have views about the abolition of this office being inconsistent with the terms of the Treaty. It would never do for the King to be involved in a dispute between any two Governments of the Commonwealth. He sincerely hoped that the President would steer this and indeed any other question in such a way that would result in keeping the King out of any contentions between the two countries.

I told Lord Wigram that, like himself, I was not a constitutional lawyer, but that I thought the position of my Government was that they had every right to take the action which they were proposing to take; and further, that since the proposed new Constitution would deal only with the internal affairs of Saorstaát Éireann there could be no question of any Government other than our own being concerned. As I had frequently explained to him during the past four years the British political or constitutional conceptions of the King could never be expected to have the same acceptance or authority with us as with them. The President's purpose was neither more nor less than that of making our political forms correspond with our political realities.

For the next few days Lord Wigram said the King's diary was very full of engagements. He had had himself difficulty in seeing the King lately for more than a very short interval. He suggested that he should show the Submission and the Memorandum to the King who would probably wish to put some questions to me about the documents. I said I would of course be willing to attend again at the Palace and if there should be any questions which the King wished to put I would doubtless be able to get from my Government the replies to those questions.

I formed the impression that Lord Wigram was not really taken aback by the proposal about the Office of Governor General.

[signed] J.W. Dulanty
High Commissioner