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
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own