I have been reading about the abdication of Edward VIII. I understand that due to recent changes brought about by the Statute of Westminster, changes to crown succession - including abdication - required assent by five Dominions: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and the Irish Free State (but not Newfoundland?). In fact, those governments were consulted by Stanley Baldwin (who was UK Prime Minister) prior to abdication on the request of Edward VIII, who had proposed a morganatic marriage in which Wallis Simpson would not become queen consort.
I am however surprised by the omission of then-British India from the list of consultees / those who would need to give assent. The surprise was twofold: the importance of the region would, I would have thought, meant that its importance was at the very least equal to the Dominions; and that the crown was also head of state of British India, albeit as 'emperor/empress' rather than king or queen. So why was India not considered?
The long title of the Statute of Westminster is:
An Act to give effect to certain resolutions passed by Imperial Conferences held in the years 1926 and 1930.
The most important outcome of these imperial conferences seems to have been the Balfour Declaration:
There is, however, one most important element in it which, from a strictly constitutional point of view, has now, as regards all vital matters, reached its full development—we refer to the group of self-governing communities composed of Great Britain and the Dominions. Their position and mutual relation may be readily defined. They are autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
(emphasis present in a PDF of a document representing the report was produced by the Inter-Imperial Relations Committee; I do not know what emphasis was present in the original report, if any)
This report does mention the elephant in the room, the status of India:
III — SPECIAL POSITION OF INDIA.
It will be noted that in the previous paragraphs we have made no mention of India. Our reason for limiting their scope to Great Britain and the Dominions is that the position of India in the Empire is already defined by the Government of India Act, 1919. We would, nevertheless, recall that by Resolution IX of the Imperial War Conference, 1917, due recognition was given to the important position held by India in the British Commonwealth. Where, in this Report, we have had occasion to consider the position of India, we have made particular reference to it*.
The Government of India Act (1919) seems to have intended to introduce "responsible government", by creating a bicamaral legislature of limited competence- it could not act in reserved areas (eg defence, foreign affairs); and it could not legislate without the consent of the Viceroy (governor general), though the Viceroy could enact legislation without the approval of the legislature.
While the report quoted above addresses the ostensible 'why was India omitted from consideration', it appears to be a shallow, facile explanation- "oh, we dealt with that elsewhere". Was there really no consideration of granting India similar status, or at least similar responsibility / footing to Dominions? Did Indian representatives (presumably) lobby for such a status?
*: The report later makes reference to the position of India and delegations from it in relation to merchant shipping at a sub-conference:
We took note that the representatives of India particularly desired that India, in view of the importance of her shipping interests, should be given an opportunity of being represented at the proposed Sub-Conference. We felt that the full representation of India on an equal footing with Great Britain and the Dominions would not only be welcomed, but could very properly be given, due regard being had to the special constitutional position of India as explained in Section III of this Report.
It is perhaps just the somewhat 'officalese' phrasing, but this seems almost condescending, given the context. "We are, in this report, recommending co-equal status of the UK and its Dominions! We also sought India's views -- because they are ever-so important -- on shipping." Given the relative populations, economies, and such this feels like a deliberate slight!