Meghan Markle’s engagement to Prince Harry revives the memory of King Edward VIII’s abdication to marry American socialite Wallis Simpson.
THE FIGHT FOR THE FILES: CAPTURED GERMAN RECORDS AFTER WORLD WAR II // Panel at the German Studies Association, San Diego, California, October
3–6, 2002. Co-sponsored by the German Historical Institute, Washington,
D.C., and the German Historical Institute, Paris. Moderator: Christof
Mauch, GHI, Washington. Panelists: Stefan Martens (GHI, Paris), Astrid
M. Eckert (Free University Berlin/GHI, Washington), Annette Weinke,
(University of Potsdam). Commentator: Gerhard L. Weinberg (University
of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).
British archives hiding royal family’s links to anti-Semitism in 1930s, says historian | The Times of Israel – This flirting with Nazism on the part of the royal family caused a media storm Saturday as Britain’s The Sun published a cover story with the headline “Their Royal Heilnesses.” The newspaper’s front page photo showed the seven-year-old future Queen Elizabeth II performing a Nazi salute in a hitherto-secret 1933 family video.
In the 17-second video from which the still was taken, young Elizabeth is seen playing with her corgi, dancing, and also raising her right arm three times, alongside her mother, Queen Elizabeth, sister Princess Margaret, and uncle Edward VIII. Buckingham Palace announced Sunday an investigation into how the video was procured by The Sun.
British archives hiding royal family’s links to anti-Semitism in 1930s, says historian | The Times of Israel – “The Royal Archives in Britain are hindering research on this subject,” she alleges.
Urbach believes letters the British monarchy is presently holding back from the public would potentially shed far more light on details about Coburg’s relationship with Hitler. Unfortunately, though, they are still under strict censorship. Or, she believes, they may have been destroyed.
“After 1945, and the de-Nazification trials, [German aristocrats] burned a lot,” says Urbach.
‘Jews were always seen as scapegoats in the eyes of the aristocracy’
Gleaning more information on how members of the British Monarchy empathized with and supported the Nazi regime during the 1930s is today almost impossible, says Urbach, because the Royal Archives at Windsor have a strict embargo on royal correspondence for the interwar years.
Wallis Simpson, the Nazi minister, the telltale monk and an FBI plot | UK news | The Guardian
Wallis Simpson, the Nazi minister, the telltale monk and an FBI plot | UK news | The Guardian – When the Duke and Duchess of Windsor sailed into Palm Beach, Florida, on the SS Berkshire from Nassau on April 18 1941 they were looking forward to enjoying three days of relaxation at the Everglades Club playing golf and drinking and gossiping with American high society.
Little did they know that the previous night instructions had gone out from President Roosevelt to FBI chief J Edgar Hoover to launch what was to be an extraordinary covert intelligence exercise that had to fool both the exiled royals and the US secret service agent who was guarding them.
The exercise was launched after the FBI had been passed intelligence that the duke and duchess were being used by the Nazis to obtain secrets which could wreck the allies’ war effort. The US investigation became even more lurid when FBI agents interviewed a benedictine monk in a Franciscan monastery in the United States; Father Odo had once been the 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 a prime suspect in the investigation – Joachim von Ribbentrop, then the Nazis’ foreign minister – had been the duchess’s lover when he was ambassador to Britain in 1936. The minister was already thought to have been supplied with information by the duchess during the German invasion of France in 1940. Now it was suggested that there was far closer arrangement.
How Britian covered up the friendship between Hitler & Edward VIII | New York Post – He was more successful than Hitler could ever imagined. Within weeks telegrams were flying between Berlin, Washington and London as diplomats gossiped about how Ribbentrop had charmed Mrs. Simpson into bed. He was said to send her 17 carnations, one for every time they had made love, to her apartment of Bryanston Court in central London.
When he heard about the behavior of his right-hand man, even the humorless Herr Hitler joked with him about the saucy stories, according to a Ribbentrop biographer. While Mrs. Simpson always denied the rumors, her great friend Mary Raffray, who ended up becoming Ernest Simpson’s third wife, insisted the torrid tales were true.
Though Ribbentrop courted and charmed Mrs. Simpson, he was focused on seducing the future king and making him a Nazi ally. For a time he was wildly successful. The prince agreed to promote reciprocal visits by German and British war veterans. When he was told off by his father, King George V, for dabbling in politics, he was later seen goose stepping around Mrs. Simpson’s apartment, a storm trooper’s hat on his head.
Operation Willi: The Nazi Plot to Kidnap the Duke of Windsor – The journey to the Spanish border was anything but easy. There were numerous roadblocks, barriers manned by French soldiers who had been veterans of World War I. The royal caravan might have been stopped dead in its tracks, but when they came to the first roadblock a quick-thinking Edward let himself be seen by the soldiers.
“Je suis le Prince de Galles. Laissez-moi passer, s’il vous plait. (I am the Prince of Wales. Let me pass, please.)” he said. Edward had been a popular figure during the Great War, often visiting the front. He was known to most Frenchmen and well liked. His caravan was allowed to pass without difficulty each time a roadblock was encountered.
When the royal party reached Perpignan near the Spanish border a stubborn Spanish consul refused at first to issue transit visas for the fugitives. The duke sent hurried telegrams to the British ambassador at Madrid and the Spanish consul at Bordeaux, and after much argument, political pressure, and fervent appeals the consul gave in. The duke and his party set foot on Spanish soil around 6 pm on June 20, 1940, then proceeded to Barcelona and a well-earned rest in a luxury hotel.
The Duke of Windsor had escaped the fire of war only to land in the frying pan of espionage and political intrigue. Spain was ruled by the fascist dictator General Francisco Franco y Bahamonde, who made little attempt to hide his pro-Axis leanings. In fact, he had recently declared Spain to be not strictly neutral but actually “nonbelligerent.” To many outside observers this seemed but one step away from actively joining the war on Hitler’s side.
Newly Released Documents Reveal Churchill’s Efforts to Suppress Details of Nazi Plot | Smart News | Smithsonian – Among the recently published documents is a 1950s correspondence between the prime minister and U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, concerning captured Nazi telegrams that described the plot involving Edward VIII. Churchill had learned that the U.S. State Department was thinking about including copies of the telegrams in its official history of the war. In a memo to Eisenhower, Churchill expressed his desire to “destroy all traces” of the documents, according to Travis.
The telegrams set Churchill on edge because they recorded damning statements allegedly made by Edward VIII, who was known as the Duke of Windsor after his abdication. One memo, sent by a Nazi operative in 1940, claimed that the Duke was “convinced that had he remained on throne war would have been avoided and describes himself as firm supporter of a peaceful compromise with Germany.”
“Duke believes with certainty that continued heavy bombing will make England ready for peace,” the telegram states.
Edward VIII had surrendered his claim to the throne so he could marry the twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. He settled with Simpson in France, but when WWII erupted, the couple moved to Spain—a country with fascist leanings, despite declaring itself non-belligerent. As Clive Irving explains in the Daily Beast, Churchill moved the duke and duchess to Portugal, and was determined to get them out of Europe. But Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler’s foreign minister, wanted them back in Spain.
Operation Willi: The Nazi Plot to Kidnap the Duke of Windsor – And so it was that King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in favor of his younger brother Albert, who then took the title of George VI. Relations between Edward and his family quickly soured, especially when his new wife was denied the title of “royal highness.” Edward was created Duke of Windsor and went into a kind of semi-exile in France. When he married Wallis in 1937, the new king would not give permission for any of the royals to attend the ceremony.
A Twelve-Day Tour of Nazi Germany
Hurt by what he perceived as shabby treatment, Edward foolishly visited Nazi Germany in October 1937. This would be a propaganda coup for the Nazis, and some of Edward’s friends, notably Winston Churchill, urged him not to go. The duke rejected their advice. He was curious about Hitler and felt “red carpet” treatment in Germany would make up for the snubs Wallis endured from the royal family.
Edward and Wallis toured various sites and were entertained by Luftwaffe chief Hermann Göring, propaganda minister Josef Goebbels, and many others. It was reported that once or twice the duke gave the infamous “Heil Hitler” salute. If true, it was probably more of a “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” situation than an outward expression of his inner beliefs.
The 12-day tour of Germany climaxed when the couple had tea with Hitler at Berchtesgaden. The Führer seemed genuinely charmed by the Windsors and later remarked “what a good Queen” Wallis would have made. In retrospect, the trip was something of a turning point for the Duke of Windsor, though few were aware of the fact. As time wore on, Edward’s loyalties became more and more suspect. Even in isolationist America the duke was indelibly seen as someone who harbored pro-German sympathies.