Classified documents from The Royal Archives may reveal the truth of claims that the Duke of Windsor was a Nazi sympathiser who gave up detailed plans of Buckingham Palace allowing it to be bombed in World War Two.
The Duke, formerly known as King Edward VIII until his abdication in 1936 to marry divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson, is the subject of many letters and correspondence in the archives that were collated by Alan Lascelles, royal secretary to four monarchs between 1920 and 1953.
Speaking at the Oxford Literary Festival yesterday, royal expert Alexander Larman said that whilst he had been given access to the archives for a book on the royal family during the war he had been surprised at the level of condemnation thrown at the Duke, revealing a Royal archivist had told him: ‘We are not in the business of protecting the Duke of Windsor’s reputation.’
He said: ‘The Nazi’s knew what they were doing and that’s because they had inside information [from the duke].
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth looking at the aftermath of a German bombing raid on 11 September 1940 which destroyed the palace chapel
A crater made by a bomb which was dropped and exploded outside Buckingham Palace, London, 14th September, 1940
A crater and damaged railings outside Buckingham Palace after one of the German bombing raids
Edward VIII encouraged the Nazis to bomb Britain into submission in World War Two and crown him as King. Above: The Duke of Windsor and his wife Wallis Simpson meeting Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler in 1937
‘I don’t think he wanted to see him [his brother King George VI] dead but he was in a position where he knew exactly where everyone was in Buckingham Palace.’
During the conflict the Palace suffered nine direct bomb hits and one death – PC Steve Robertson, a policeman on duty there who was killed by flying debris in 1941.
After one raid in September 1940, at the height of the Battle of Britain, the Queen Mother wrote of the ‘horrible’ bombing of her home by the German Luftwaffe.
Referring to Buckingham Palace as ‘dear old BP’, the Queen Mother wrote: ‘We heard the unmistakable whirr-whirr of a German plane.
‘We said ‘ah a German’, and before anything else could be said, there was the noise of aircraft diving at great speed, and then the scream of a bomb.
‘It all happened so quickly, that we had only time to look foolishly at each other, when the scream hurtled past us, and exploded with a tremendous crash in the quadrangle.’
The Queen Mother went on to describe how she and the King had to duck down ‘like lightening’ [sic] into a corridor, keeping away from the windows through fear of flying broken glass, before calmly going to an air-raid shelter.
On her way to safety, she recounted to her mother-in-law – whom she fondly addresses as ‘darling Mama’ – she saw housemaids giving first aid to three workmen injured in the Luftwaffe attack.
The letter ends with a PS saying: ‘Dear old B.P is still standing and that is the main thing.’
King George VII also documented the bombing raid describing how he and the family had watched the bombs fall themselves.
He recalled: ‘All of a sudden we heard an aircraft making a zooming noise above us, saw 2 bombs falling past the opposite side of the Palace, & then heard 2 resounding crashes as the bombs fell in the quadrangle about 30 yds away.
‘We looked at each other, & then we were out into the passage as fast as we could get there. The whole thing happened in a matter of seconds….
‘…6 bombs had been dropped. The aircraft was seem coming straight down the Mall below the clouds having dived through the clouds & had dropped 2 bombs in the forecourt, 2 in the quadrangle, 1 in the Chapel & the other in the garden.’
The Duke of Windsor’s Nazi affiliations have been well documented.
In 1937, Edward and Wallis, met Hitler and his officials during a tour of Germany. Whilst there, Edward was infamously photographed giving a Nazi salute (above)
The former king, who abdicated in 1936 to marry the divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson , also passed information to Germany that aided the fall of France in 1940, according to a new documentary
Whilst on his visit, the Duke was photographed inspecting German troops
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor photographed viewing mountain scenery on a visit to Hitler’s mountain retreat
In 1937, Edward and Wallis, met Hitler and his officials during a tour of Germany.
Whilst there, Edward was infamously photographed giving a Nazi salute and later also toured industrial facilities and even a concentration camp, whose guard towers were said to have been explained to him as meat stores.
The former king was reported to have said as late as 1941 that Hitler was the ‘right and logical leader of the German people’.
The duke met and dined with dozens of senior Nazis including Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess and his foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop.
He also met Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, who was so convinced of his fascist sympathies he described him as a ‘tender seedling of reason’.
Edward’s wife is said to have lapped up adulation and curtsies at every turn, with Hitler remarking of her: ‘She would have made a good queen.’
It is thought that the couple – who had been given the titles Duke and Duchess of Windsor earlier that year – would have been installed as puppet monarchs had Germany taken over Britain.
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