[WW] Edward VIII and Nazi Germany

Picture courtesy of the Telegraph UK

Edward VIII, King of the United Kingdom for a mere year in 1936, is well-known for his short reign and abdication from the throne due to his remarriage to a divorcee, but also for the reports that claimed Edward VIII was a Nazi sympathizer and potential spy for the Germans. Despite admitting in his memoirs after the war that he was not pro-Nazi, his actions may have said otherwise.

In terms of love life, Edward VIII was considered reckless and a womanizer by those close to him. He was known to have multiple affairs with married women, including American socialite Wallis Simpson, who would later become his wife. This greatly concerned the monarchs as well as the government because it was against the belief that the head of the Church of England remarry divorced people while the former spouse is still alive. With his choice to marry Wallis Simpson after her divorced finalized, Edward VIII gave up his right to the throne. Edward VIII's younger brother, Albert (who ascended the throne as George VI), named Edward VIII as "His Royal Highness The Duke of Windsor", which made it so that Edward VIII could not stand for election nor speak in the House of Lords. Wallis Simpson would henceforth be known as the "Duchess of Windsor".

Against the advice of the monarchy and the British government, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor visited Adolf Hitler in Germany in October of 1937. This is probably when the trouble began.

Events and facts regarding the time of British efforts in WWII will now be displayed in point form to not bore you all to death:

  • The Duke and Duchess of Windsor gave full Nazi salutes during their visit
  • Hitler believed that the Duke's abdication was a loss for Germany as Anglo-German relations would have been otherwise friendly
  • Some suggest that the Duke had plans for Germany to win the war so that a fascist Britain could be established and Edward VIII could become king again (but these stories have not been confirmed)
  • At the beginning of WWII, the German ambassador claimed the Duke had leaked allied war plans to the Nazis
  • During his occupation as major-general in France, the Duke asked and had German forces place guards at his Paris and Riviera homes
  • Hitler had a plan (which did not come into fruition) to kidnap the Duke in order to force the Duke to support German war efforts
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt was so concerned with the Duke's wavering allegiance to the Allies, he ordered covert surveillance of the Duke and Duchess when they came to Florida in 1941
  • The Duke and Duchess had to be court marshaled back to British soil after fleeing to Portugal and staying with a contact with both British and German ties
  • Britain, under the leadership of Winston Churchill, sent the Duke and Duchess to the Bahamas (the Duke became the Governor there) where they could do, what the government considered, the least damage to the British war effort
  • There are rumours that the Duchess slept with the German ambassador in 1936 and remained in contact with him, also suggesting that she was leaking secrets to him
  • There are claims that the British Royal Family, with the use of an MI5 agent, successfully retrieved sensitive letters between the Duke and Hitler near the end of WWII
  • In 2002, the Guardian claimed it had seen 227 pages of FBI intelligence reports and interviews ordered by President Roosevelt regarding Edward VIII's controversial ties with Nazi Germany

Despite the allegations and unorthodox actions of royalty, the Duke was praised for his efforts to combat poverty in the Bahamas and was seen as a sort of celebrity figure in Germany and the United States.

What do you think of Edward VIII? Are you glad he was abdicated from the throne? How would the world be if he had remained as king?

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