Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Friday, May 26, 2006

Dead King Watch: Edward VIII - The Nazi King

King Edward VIII died on 28 May 1972, which makes this Sunday the 34th anniversary of his death. Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David Windsor was born in 1894, the eldest son of The Duke of York (later King George V), and a great grandson of Queen Victoria. Edward VIII was styled 'His Highness Prince Edward of York' at his birth, possibly as his full name was rather long and ridiculous. Indeed, for the rest of his life, he was known to his family and close friends, by his last name, David.

He automatically became Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland when his father, George V, ascended the throne on 6 May 1910. The new King created him Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on 2 June 1910 and officially invested him as such in a special ceremony in 1911. It must have been difficult for him to keep track of exactly which parts of the UK he was supposed to be a ruler of at this time.

Like many sons of royalty, he went into the armed services for a 'career'. As of 1911 he was a Midshipman in the Royal Navy, making Lieutenant in 1913. When the First World War (1914–18) broke out Edward had reached the minimum age for active service and expressed keenness to participate. He is rather reminiscent of Prince Harry at this stage - and Edward was allowed to join the army, serving with the Grenadier Guards. Although Edward expressed a willingness to serve on the front lines, the British government refused to allow it, citing the immense harm that the capture of the heir to the throne would cause. Despite this Edward witnessed at first hand the horror of trench warfare, and attempted to visit the front line as often as he could, leading to his award of the Military Cross in 1916. What a hero.

Throughout the 1920s the Prince of Wales represented his father, King George V, at home and abroad on many occasions. Abroad the Prince of Wales toured the Empire, undertaking 13 tours between 1919 and 1935. At home, he took a particular interest in visiting the poverty stricken areas of the country during the Great Depression. Yet in reality, he preferred to hang out with his rich friends - and by the late 1920s had fallen in love with an American woman Wallis Simpson. This weakened his poor relationship with his father, King George V. The King and Queen refused to receive Mrs Simpson at court, and his brother, Prince Albert, urged Edward to seek a more suitable wife.

Edward's affair with the American divorcée led to such grave concern that the couple were followed by members of MI5, to examine in secret the nature of their relationship. A MI5 report detailed a visit by the couple to an antique shop, where the proprietor later noted that: "the lady seemed to have POW [Prince of Wales] completely under her thumb." The prospect of having an American divorcée with a questionable past having such sway over the Heir Apparent filled the Establishment with great misgiving.

King George V died on January 20, 1936, and Edward ascended to the throne as King Edward VIII. His full title now was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, and Emperor of India. It was now becoming clear that the new King wished to marry Mrs Simpson, especially when divorce proceedings between Mr and Mrs Simpson were brought at Ipswich Crown Court. Powerful figures in the British government deemed marriage to Mrs Simpson impossible for Edward, even if Wallis obtained her second divorce, because he had become the Supreme Governor of the Church of England which prohibited remarriage after divorce. Edward's alternative proposed solution of a morganatic marriage (where his wife and any future children would not have recieved any privileges) was rejected by the Tory Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin and the Dominion governments.

Yet the real reason King Edward caused unease in government circles were to do with his actions that were interpreted as interference in political matters. His visit to the economically impoverished coal mining villages in South Wales saw Edward call for "something to be done" for the unemployed and deprived coal miners. This went against the Tory 'National' Government's policy of doing absolutely nothing to help the millions of unemployed at the time. Yet there was also a slight difficulty with what Edward favoured as the 'something' that should 'be done'.

Nazi King

King Edward, you see, was a Nazi sympathiser who was quite taken by the Fascist 'solution' to unemployment, being carried out in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany at the time. US FBI agents later interviewed the one time Duke of Wurttemberg, a minor German royal with connections to Queen Mary, the duke's mother, and her brother, the Duke of Athlone, then governor general of Canada. He told them that Joachim von Ribbentrop, then the Nazis' foreign minister - had been Wallis Simpson's lover when he was ambassador to Britain in 1936.

According to the FBI report, "He knew definitely that von Ribbentrop, while in England, sent the then Wallis Simpson 17 carnations every day. The 17 supposedly represented the number of times they had slept together." He also revealed that the Duchess of Windsor had told guests at a Paris party that: "The duke is impotent and although he had tried sexual intercourse with numerous women they had been unsuccesful in satisfying his passions...The duchess [Simpson] in her own inimitable and unique manner has been the only woman who had been able to satisfactorily gratify the duke's sexual desires."

The apparent close links between the Nazi leadership and King Edward were increasingly problematic for the British Government, which increasingly was seeing a rearming Nazi Germany in close alliance with Mussolini's Italy as a potential challenge to British imperial power. On November 16, 1936, Edward met with Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin at Fort Belvedere and expressed his desire to marry Wallis Simpson when she became free to do so. The Prime Minister responded by presenting the King with three choices: he could give up the idea of marriage; marry Wallis against his ministers' wishes; or abdicate. It was clear that Edward was not prepared to give up Wallis. By marrying against the advice of his ministers, it was likely that he would cause the government to resign, prompting a constitutional crisis. Edward chose to abdicate and departed the United Kingdom for France, though he was unable to join Wallis until her divorce became absolute, several months later.

His brother, Prince Albert, Duke of York succeeded to the throne as King George VI, with his eldest daughter, The Princess Elizabeth first in the line of succession, as the heir presumptive. On March 8, 1937, George VI created his brother, Edward, the former king, Duke of Windsor. The Duke of Windsor married Mrs. Simpson, who had changed her name by deed poll to Wallis Warfield, in a private ceremony on 3 June 1937 at Chateau de Candé, Monts, France. None of the British royal family attended.

Reunited, that year the Duke and Duchess visited Germany as personal guests of the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, a visit much publicised by the German media (see picture above). It is likely that Edward continued to leak secret information to Joachim von Ribbentrop, who had remained in constant contact with him. When the Second World War broke out, the Duke of Windsor gave a "defeatist" interview (calling for the defeat of Britain at the hands of Nazi Germany) that received wide distribution. This served as the last straw for the British government: in August a British warship dispatched the pair to the Bahamas. The Duke of Windsor was installed as Governor, and became the first British monarch to ever hold a civilian political office.

Many historians have suggested that Hitler was prepared to reinstate Edward and Wallis as King and Queen of Britain, if he conquered the country, and is apparently to have said to Wallis, "you would make a good Queen." Many top officers in the British Army, as well as more than a few members of the civilian population, believed that Edward had passed details of the movements of the British Expeditionary Force in France, leading to the disaster at Dunkirk. U.S. naval intelligence revealed a confidential report of a conference of German foreign officials in October 1941, that judged the Duke "no enemy to Germany" and the only English representative with whom Hitler would negotiate any peace terms, "the logical director of England's destiny after the war".

After the war, the couple returned once again to France in Neuilly near Paris, where they spent much of the remainder of their lives essentially in retirement, as the Duke never occupied another professional role after his wartime governorship of the Bahamas. They hosted parties and travelled extensively, shuttling between Paris and New York; in 1951 the Duke produced a ghost-written memoir, A King's Story. Nine years later, he also penned a relatively unknown book chiefly about the fashion and habits of the Royal Family, and their evolution throughout his life, from the time of Queen Victoria through his grandfather, father, and his own tastes. The book is entitled, Windsor Revisited. It seems a suitable time to revisit the Duke of Windsor - the Nazi King - today in the light of Prince Harry's apparent love of German Wehrmacht uniforms - as well as the common belief that British Fascism has some sort of natural constituency in the 'white working class'. On the contrary, British Fascism has always tended to be rather popular among the very 'cream' of society, from where it draws its leaders like Sir Oswald Mosley and Nick Griffin - and would be leaders like King Edward VIII. Racism trickles down from the very top of a rotting capitalist society built on wage slavery at home and imperialist domination abroad.



At 12:58 a.m., Anonymous gom said...

I wondered when you'd get round to doing him. It's probably one of Ipswich's finest hours to have been the place where divorce preceedings got underway. I don't think anything of national significance has happened there before or since (unless Cardinal Wolsey was in town when he told Henry XVIII to sort his own bloody personal life out and leave the church out of it). I think Geoffry Chaucer's Dad was an MP there but that's about it.

I also think its worth mentioning that I once watch a documentary about Edward VIII and it claimed that just before the German invasion of France, Edward (who was at the time in the British army in France) spent most evening in the company of people who were, shall we say, as enthusiastic as he was about the fine work being done in Germany and Italy at that time as well as being a little too quick to stick their hands up when the Germans tanks rolled across Belgium. The film didn't suggest that there was any evidence that military secrets were passed to the enemy but, rather like Harry's uniform, it doesn't look good does it.......

At 9:16 a.m., Blogger Snowball said...

Cheers GOM. I agree - it doesn't look good at all.

At 7:44 a.m., Blogger cheesemeister said...

I didn't realize that any of England's royalty was in sympathy with the Nazis. It's kind of a chilling realization. Thinking about it I'm sure there were plenty of U.S. aristocracy that may have been as well though I can't remember any being outspokenly so.

At 6:31 a.m., Blogger Comandante Gringo said...

That's nothing. You should do that fascist shit Mountbatten next. Every little piece of him.

At 6:38 a.m., Blogger Comandante Gringo said...

Oh, and cheesemeister: You probably haven't heard about the 1934 fascist Wall St. coup plot againt FDR, have you?

At 12:37 p.m., Blogger Simon said...

Oh and George Prescott Bush (dubya's grandpa) helped hitler to power.

check this out...
story here

At 2:11 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I am a journalist trying to do a piece on Wallis Simpson's divorce, and its importance to Ipswich.

Could you please get in touch on madridenglish2005@yahoo.co.uk


At 4:37 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this up. More people need to know the truth. :)

At 1:01 a.m., Blogger Nightingale said...

I'd seriously doubt that the Duke of Windsor would have been privvy to military secrets after his abdication. The excuse for Dunkirk should not be laid at his tomb.

At 6:16 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's disgusting; here across the pond, he's just touted for "having given up a kingdom for love," or whatever the hell the tag for the Lifetime Movie of the Week about Wallis Simpson says. Somehow those flicks never quite get to Edward and Wallis kicking it with Hitler.


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