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

News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice