King Edward: Expert discusses ‘explosive’ 1936 images
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The Queen’s uncle infamously abdicated the throne in 1936 so he could marry American socialite Wallis Simpson. Edward’s disgraced 326-day reign remains one of the shortest in British royal history. After his abdication, he and Wallis became known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. However, Edward’s plan to marry Wallis – which he did in 1937 – was not the biggest controversy he brought the Royal Family.
The Duke’s Nazi sympathies before and during World War 2 also brought shame on Britain’s monarchy.
The former King was known to embrace German culture and be close to his German cousins on the side of his father, George V, who he succeeded as monarch.
However, while the Royal Family’s German ancestry is well-documented, what is less well-known is how Edward once appealed to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler himself for “peace”.
Royal biographer Andrew Lownie detailed the secret correspondence between the pair in his book, ‘Traitor King: The Scandalous Exile of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’, published last year.
He wrote: “The Duke still felt that war could be averted and on 27 August  he sent a personal telegram to Hitler.”
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Edward was quoted in his message as writing: “Remembering your courtesy and our meeting two years ago, I address to you my entirely personal, simple though very earnest appeal for your utmost influence towards a peaceful solution of the present problems.”
Edward’s telegram referenced his and his wife’s unofficial tour of Germany in 1936, during which they met Hitler.
The couple were shown around a mine, a winter relief headquarters, a light bulb factory and a school.
According to Mr Lownie, Hitler responded to Edward’s telegram six days later.
The reply read: “Assure you that attitude towards England remains the same and my wish to avoid a new war between our two countries remains.
“It depends however on England whether relations between the Germans and English can find the correct channel.”
By the time Edward received Hitler’s telegram, international relations had already reached breaking point and Germany had invaded Poland.
Hitler ignored an ultimatum from Britain and France to withdraw, with both countries then declaring war on Germany.
Amid the rising tensions, Edward and Wallis left their lavish Chateau de la Croë on the French Riviera for Paris.
Fruity Metcalfe, a friend of the Duke, organised a train for the couple to get to the French capital.
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Edward was said to have rejected the idea of returning to England during the war, according to Mr Lownie’s book.
Walter Monckton, Edward’s trusted adviser, claimed the former King had said that unless his brother, King George VI, could accommodate him and Wallis, he would not go back to England.
Edward finally learned that war had been declared once he had arrived in Paris, according to Mr Lownie.
He wrote: “The Duke’s reaction, on learning the news from a call from the British Embassy in Paris, was to remark to his wife, ‘Great Britain has just declared war on Germany.
“‘I’m afraid in the end, this may open the way for world communism.’
“He then returned to the swimming pool and dived in.”
‘Traitor King: The Scandalous Exile of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’ was written by Andrew Lownie and published by Blink Publishing in 2021. It is available here.
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