Thursday 30 March 2017

'Nazi sympathies' and louche lifestyle of Britain's Edward VIII

File photo dated 23/10/1937 of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor meeting with German leader Adolf Hitler in Munich as Buckingham Palace has defended footage from 1933 that shows a young Queen performing a Nazi salute with her family at Balmoral. Photo: PA
File photo dated 23/10/1937 of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor meeting with German leader Adolf Hitler in Munich as Buckingham Palace has defended footage from 1933 that shows a young Queen performing a Nazi salute with her family at Balmoral. Photo: PA
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

BRITAIN'S Edward VIII has fascinated royal historians and biographers for decades through a toxic tabloid mixture of alleged Nazi sympathy and a liberal sex life.

The Queen's uncle, Prince Edward, faced numerous accusations of being a Nazi sympathiser.

He became King Edward VIII and abdicated less than a year later to marry his divorcee mistress, the American socialite Wallis Simpson.

The couple were photographed meeting Hitler in Munich in October 1937, less than two years before the Second World War broke out.

He was accused of passing national secrets to foreign governments, and of being an ally of the fuhrer.

Edward, the Prince of Wales, had close ties to Germany. His mother was a German princess, and he spent many childhood holidays there.

He was called up to serve with the Grenadier Guards following the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, but was prohibited from fighting on the frontline for and against the two countries that gave him his heritage.

After the war, and much like members of the modern day royal family, Prince Edward was deployed in an ambassadorial role to promote the British empire around the world.

But his behaviour, including frequent dalliances with married women before meeting Ms Simpson, infuriated royal aides at the time.

Edward admired Hitler's economic and social reforms in Germany as the Nazis swept to power, and said Britain should offer them the hand of friendship. It was something that upset the royal household and the British government.

On becoming king in 1936, Edward was said to have wanted to speak privately with Hitler, without his government's knowledge. During his brief reign, he said he would abdicate if then-prime minister Stanley Baldwin made war.

Later, as Duke of Windsor, he visited Germany with the idea of discussing becoming a figurehead for an international movement for peace on Hitler's terms. The duke and his wife are said to have impressed the dictator.

He is also said to have met Hitler's right-hand man Rudolf Hess twice as part of the plans for a new world peace. A documentary in 1995 said part of the plan would see the Duke of Windsor reinstalled as king of England.

Evidence emerged that Edward visited the early stages of concentration camps, although it is not thought evidence of mass murder was made clear to him.

A domestic media blackout prevented details of the visits being made public.

Edward's loose tongue and penchant for drinking sessions meant he was considered a liability to the royals, and he would go on to see out his retirement in France.

Documents relating to Edward's alleged treason and wayward loyalty to the British people have remained largely locked away in secret archives long after his death in 1972.

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