Britain's would-be Nazi Queen

Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom Edward VIII abdicated, conducted secret negotiations with the Nazis in order to have herself installed as Queen of England "at any price", according to secret government papers released yesterday.

The Public Record Office documents confirm for the first time what historians have long suspected - that Edward, the Duke of Windsor, was a firm Nazi sympathiser and his American wife was a malign influence.

A memorandum released by the Foreign Office, 60 years after the abdication, provides the most startling evidence yet of the Windsors' willingness to collaborate with Hitler.

The couple had left Britain for neutral Portugal, but there were government concerns throughout the summer of 1940 that the Nazis might take Edward - by force or persuasion - with the intention of installing him as a puppet king in the event of an invasion.

The latest evidence suggests that force, at least on the part of the duchess, might not have been necessary. Dated 7 July 1940, it comes in the form of a memorandum from an informant inside occupied Czechoslovakia to Sir Alexander Cadogan, permanent secretary at the Foreign Office. It says: "A new source in close touch with Von Neurath's [the German protector of Bohemia's] entourage in Prague has reported that the Germans expect assistance from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the latter desiring at any price to become Queen. The Germans have been negotiating with her since June 27.

"The status quo in England expect an understanding to form an anti-Russian alliance.

"The Germans propose to form an opposition government with the Duke of Windsor, having first changed public opinion by propaganda. The Germans think King George will abdicate during the attack on London."

Royal historians were not surprised by the contents of many of yesterday's papers - particularly those once again demonstrating the duke's pro-Nazi sympathies and his embarrassing comments and behaviour after being sent to act as Governor of the Bahamas in 1940. But the confirmation of Wallis Simpson's role in the affair was regarded as significant.

"This dots the i's and crosses the t's," said Harold Brooks-Baker, publishing director of Burke's Peerage.

"She was always regarded as bad news, particularly by the Americans. Roosevelt was always worried about Edward's Nazi leanings and considered her the best thing that ever happened - she stopped him having to deal with a pro-Nazi king."

The revelations also go some way to explaining the Queen Mother's lifelong loathing of the duchess.

There are many more references, however, to the duke's aspirations and to his Nazi leanings.

One intelligence report from a Spaniard, Count Nava de Tajo, to British diplomats said that the duke believed there could be a revolution in Britain, resulting in the abdication of King George VI. He then hoped that a subsequent Labour government would invite him back to take the throne.

Later, a senior Foreign Office specialist covering America wrote to Sir David Douglas-Scott, assistant under-secretary of state, complaining about an interview the duke had given to an American newspaper arguing against US involvement in the war.

Clearly furious, he concludes: "I propose that he now be told of the harm that he has done, and strictly prohibited from giving any more interviews at all without having his texts vetted and authorised at home... [This] may help to correct the gaffe of sending him to this post. It - or any post near the USA - should have been the last chosen."

Duke and the Nazis, page 6

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?