How Winston Churchill protected Hitler’s Nazi King of England
Wallis Simpson and the Edward, the Duke of Windsor, meeting with Adolf Hitler in Germany. | Wikimedia Commons

As more and more praise is heaped on Winston Churchill and actor Gary Oldman’s portrayal of the man in the film Darkest Hour, I am constantly reminded about how much of Churchill’s actions have been deliberately hidden from history.

Meanwhile, the relatively recent Netflix series The Crown has shone a revealing light on one of the biggest scandals of the second world war.

The fact that the Duke of Windsor, the man who had abdicated as King Edward VIII, was in fact an enthusiastic Nazi who had made long-term plans with Hitler to become the German dictator’s puppet king of Britain and that it was Churchill who sought to hide that royal treason from the British public and the world.

Edward: Hitler’s biggest royal fan

Edward demonstrated his affection and respect for Hitler and the Nazis early. In 2015, a home-made film from the royal family collection became public. It showed Edward, then the Prince of Wales, encouraging his two very young nieces to do an impressive Nazi salute.

Those two nieces, aged just six and four at the time, were in fact the woman who is now Queen Elizabeth and her sister Margaret. Also saluting in the film is the Queen Mother, then aged 33.

The establishment tried very hard to buy and destroy the film, but in fact the usually despicable newspaper The Sun did something worthwhile this time and published stills and a video clip on its website. I don’t usually look at The Sun, but I had to make an exception in this case.

Edward had learned the salute on his visits to Germany, both alone and with his U.S. lover Wallis Simpson.

She had been a long-time supporter of fascist ideas and the Nazis, both in her native U.S. and also when she came to live in Britain and Europe.

In London, Simpson first lived in a flat in Bryanston Court, where Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe was her next-door neighbor. The British security services had monitored the German princess since 1928. They considered her a Nazi spy, a woman with direct access to Hitler himself. Bryanston Court, it seemed, was a nest of espionage and plotting.

Just four years after being filmed performing the Nazi salute with a young Queen Elizabeth, Prince Edward repeated the gesture saluting Hitler himself during a visit to Germany.

This was in 1933. In Germany, the Nazi party was gaining support and would soon hold absolute power.

By the end of 1933, crackdowns had been launched on Jews, homosexuals, communists, socialists, and trade unionists. All opposition political parties were banned.

1933 also saw attacks on Jewish businesses, Jews and non-Germans being banned from public service, and Heirich Himmler announced the establishment of the first concentration camp at Dachau. Anti-fascist books were burnt in the streets.

Edward and Simpson saw all this happening on their visits and formed the judgment that the Hitler and his Nazis would certainly win any future war.

The Nazi King

It was at this time that the German dictator and his Third Reich started to hatch a plot with Edward and some of his close German royal family relatives along with sympathetic right-wing British aristocrats and politicians like Oswald Mosley.

Lord Rothermere and his just-as-ultra-right-wing-then-as-it-is-today Daily Mail had its notorious “Hurrah for the Blackshirts” headline and many articles praising Hitler’s progress in Germany.

Against this background, German and British fascists plotted to install Edward as a puppet monarch when Hitler and his stormtroopers had achieved their successful invasion and occupation of Britain.

Simpson, who became Edward’s wife, had long held Nazi sympathies in the U.S. and then in London. These continued and she had a long-term affair with the Nazi ambassador to London, Joachim von Ribbentrop.

Edward would share all the secrets in his political and military papers with Simpson, who would take them bed-hopping when she next slept with Ribbentrop. The romantic German gave her bunches of red carnations. She gave him Britain’s secret war plans.

Only two years before fighting started in the second world war, Edward was discussing becoming a figurehead for an international movement for peace on Hitler’s terms. He travelled to Germany to meet the Fuhrer at his mountain retreat of Obersalzberg.

He also met Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, to discuss details of the plan which would have seen him back on the British throne when the Nazis occupied Britain.

On this trip to Germany, he was shown many of the plans being made for the forthcoming conflict, including the first of the concentration camps—seeds of the Holocaust.

Edward was encouraged by Simpson. A British agent’s in-depth report had discovered that she wanted to join him on the throne, “desiring at any price to become Queen.” Unlike at home in Britain, Simpson was always given the full title of “Her Royal Highness” in Germany and treated as if she was already wearing the British crown.

The Germans reasoned that King George would abdicate when Luftwaffe attacks on London got really heavy. Intense propaganda was planned to make the German-appointed King Edward acceptable to the British public.

Edward, now known as the Duke of Windsor, believed that only the continued heavy bombing of British cities would bring Britain to the negotiating table.

Here was an ex-king of Britain who had no faith in his country’s people or their leaders. He fully approved of Hitler and his spurious plans for peace. The duke had no fear of giving succor to the enemy while Britain faced its darkest wartime hour.

When U.S. journalist Fulton Oestler interviewed the Duke during the war, he declared: “It would be a tragic thing for the world if Hitler was overthrown. Hitler is the right and logical leader of the German people. Hitler is a very great man.”

When he became king in 1936, Edward had communicated secretly with Hitler. To the British Cabinet he threatened he would abandon the throne if the then prime minister declared war on his beloved Germany.

The story of his 1937 abdication and marriage has been told many times, always with the emphasis on romance and “the love of a good woman.”

That the truth is much darker is clearly demonstrated by the fact that, in 1937, the couple honeymooned in Germany, where they met Hitler himself and many of his high command.

It was a chance to practice that Hitler salute they had first learned all those years before. But more important it was a chance to plan one of the most disgraceful treasonable acts in the whole of Britain’s history.

Denied the throne, and the embarrassment of treason charges

By 1940, France had fallen and Edward and Simpson moved their home in exile to Franco’s fascist, but supposedly neutral, Spain. During this time, many of Edward and Simpson’s conversations were noted by German diplomats and pro-fascist Spanish aristocrats and passed on in minute detail to Berlin.

Microfilm long hidden in a German castle revealed the innermost workings of the Nazi plan, including some very revealing and incriminating correspondence between the treacherous Edward and his Nazi co-conspirators.

He included details of the deal he proposed with Hitler whom he declared “a great man.” He openly criticized Churchill as the warmonger.

Edward argued that the war could have been avoided if he had been allowed to stay on the throne.

The entire secret plot was known by Hitler and his secret service as Operation Willi.

Once victory was won and the Nazis were defeated, how did Churchill decide to deal with the treacherous Nazi-admiring ex-king and his equally fascist wife?

The Duke of Windsor, center, gives the Hitler salute while standing with Nazi officials in Germany. | Morgane Evans Antique Auction

Amazingly, Churchill decided to cover it all up. He wanted all the papers shredded or burned. The man who would have been Hitler’s puppet monarch would be allowed to get away scot-free.

To Churchill, it was more important to preserve the royal family and any reputation they still had.

Fortunately copies of the papers, including the royal correspondence with Hitler and other Nazis, had gone to the U.S. where less tame academics and the media demanded the right to publish. It still took many years before the papers reached the public domain.

Edward and his bride continued to live in luxury in Paris, still paid for by the British people whom they had been so keen to betray.

Morning Star.


Peter Frost
Peter Frost

Peter Frost is a journalist for the Morning Star, Britain's socialist daily newspaper and website. He also writes for Culture Matters, a platform for socialist and progressive art, culture and politics.