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Edward VIII ‘encouraged Nazis to bomb UK into submission’ after abdication, historian claims

Newly uncovered archives back up the longstanding claims

Ella Glover
Friday 25 March 2022 18:38 GMT
Edward VIII abdicated to marry an American socialite
Edward VIII abdicated to marry an American socialite (Getty Images)

Edward VIII “encouraged Nazis to bomb UK into submission” in World War Two, according to a new Channel 4 documentary.

The documentary, Edward VIII: Britain’s Traitor King, will show evidence the former king — who abdicated in 1936 after the Church of England, the government and the public condemned his decision marry American socialite Wallis Simpson — passed information to Germany and encouraged the Nazis to bomb Britain before reappointing him as king.

It will reportedly also show evidence that Edward VIII aided the Nazis with the fall of France in 1940.

The revelatory documentary, which will air on Sunday, 27 March, is based on the work of historian Andrew Lownie whose book Traitor King will be released in May.

Edward was known to write four reports while living in Paris that exposed weaknesses in the French army

The documentary uses evidence from captured German documents held in the Royal Archives.

Edward was known to write reports while living in Paris that exposed weaknesses in the French army, including poor leadership. The information was then passed, perhaps unwittingly, to a Nazi sympathiser, Charles Bedaux.

Jane Ridley, a professor of modern history at the University of Buckingham and talking head on the documentary, claims: “[Edward] knew, when he boasted about the inadequacy of French war defences, that this would go back to Germany”.

In 1937, Edward and his wife met Hitler and he was famously pictured giving a Nazi salute.

After Winston Churchill, who was prime minister at the time, sent the Duke to govern the Bahamas, Edward sent a coded telegram to a Nazi associate saying he was willing to return to Europe.

Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson met Hitler in Germany in 1937

Mr Lownie argues in the documentary that this indicates Edward was aware of Operation Willie, the German plan to put the Duke back on the throne as the head of a puppet state.

The rumours are longstanding. In 2015, researchers at the Institute of Historical Research at the School of Advance Study at the University of London pieced together from open archives across 30 countries, including Germany, Spain and Russia.

They revealed that Edward, the Duke of Windsor, told the Spanish diplomat Don Javier Bermejillo that the effective bombing of England “could bring peace”.

Dr Karina Urbach, the senior research fellow who worked on the study, said: “This report went to Franco and was then passed on to the Germans. The bombing of Britain started on 10 July.”

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