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  #1781  
Old 12-10-2017, 11:42 AM
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Duke and Duchess of Windsor (1894-1972) and (1895-1986)

What’s essential to remember about the Windsors visiting Hitler was that it was arranged and had the approval of the government of the day. Lots of high ups in the establishment were visiting Hitler for various reasons pre 1939 including Lloyd George of all people. The Duke did support (to what degree we don’t know) National Socialism in principle. Wallis? I’m not so sure. But the Hitler they met in 1937 was not the same Hitler we think of from 1945 and they would have been meeting him as the “man of the moment”, not as the dictator he later became.
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  #1782  
Old 12-10-2017, 11:55 AM
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I don't know if the Duke sought government approval for his trip to Hitler, as he was then a private individual. Yes it is true that a lot of people met Hilter in the 30s but it was becoming increasingly controversial, meeting him as the 30s went on. however certainly Govermnet members met him, because there were discussions about politics, but by the later 30s, war was beginning to look like it was going to have to happen. I don't believe that Edward had any fixed political beliefs, he preferred Fascism to Communism, but he wasn't " a convinced Nazi". however, once Britian was at war, "flirting with the Nazis" became treasonable...
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  #1783  
Old 12-10-2017, 11:59 AM
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Any foreign visit with a head of state would absolutely have needed the approval of the Foreign Office - which he got. War wasn’t considered as a real possibility with the Germans until 1938. When the Windsors met Hitler, they were being used as part of a much wider plan to try to form some kind of working deal that didn’t give in to Hitler but which turned a blind eye to certain actions in return for a good trade deal. In 1937, meeting Hitler wasn’t at all controversial - it was something many people were doing and most of the British public were fascinated by him. He was the stuff of legend and seeing high ranking politicians or royalty meeting with him was akin to say the Queen meeting the Pope. People were interested and it wouldn’t have been seen as at all unusual. Whatever happened behind closed doors, officially we had absolutely no issues with the Third Reich until 1939 and most people were content with that.
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  #1784  
Old 12-10-2017, 12:05 PM
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I think ti was controversial. True that many people from the British elite met Hitler during the earlier 30s but there were those who disapproved of him from the start, and who were not impressed by the Windsors paying a visit. And as time passed, while the Brtisih wanted to avoid war if possible, and were willig to talk to Hitler, it was not because they approved of Hitler but because they feared and dread the thought of another major war, not 20 years after the Great War.
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  #1785  
Old 12-10-2017, 12:08 PM
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With respect, I think that view is formed by hindsight. The British may have wanted to avoid war but so did Germany. Hitler never wanted a war with Britain, far from it. And many high ranking politicians did approve of Hitler. The idea that they only visited him because they wanted to keep the peace is simply untrue. Lloyd George went because he admired what Hitler had done with the unemployment rate in Germany for example. We now understand that war was inevitable but in 1937, nobody thought that way. Hitler himself only came to accept that war was inevitable 9 weeks before September 1939.
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  #1786  
Old 12-10-2017, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Gaudete View Post
Any foreign visit with a head of state would absolutely have needed the approval of the Foreign Office - which he got. War wasn’t considered as a real possibility with the Germans until 1938. When the Windsors met Hitler, they were being used as part of a much wider plan to try to form some kind of working deal that didn’t give in to Hitler but which turned a blind eye to certain actions in return for a good trade deal. In 1937, meeting Hitler wasn’t at all controversial - it was something many people were doing and most of the British public were fascinated by him. He was the stuff of legend and seeing high ranking politicians or royalty meeting with him was akin to say the Queen meeting the Pope. People were interested and it wouldn’t have been seen as at all unusual. Whatever happened behind closed doors, officially we had absolutely no issues with the Third Reich until 1939 and most people were content with that.
Not everyone in government took that view--Churchill had been warning about Hitler since 1933. But too many in Britain didn't want another war and went the appeasement route, and look where that took them.
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  #1787  
Old 12-10-2017, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Gaudete View Post
With respect, I think that view is formed by hindsight. The British may have wanted to avoid war but so did Germany. Hitler never wanted a war with Britain, far from it. And many high ranking politicians did approve of Hitler. The idea that they only visited him because they wanted to keep the peace is simply untrue. Lloyd George went because he admired what Hitler had done with the unemployment rate in Germany for example. We now understand that war was inevitable but in 1937, nobody thought that way. Hitler himself only came to accept that war was inevitable 9 weeks before September 1939.
Only because Hitler thought everyone would roll over and let him continue to build his Reich. The appeasement policies of Chamberlain's government led Hitler to believe that possible. The idea that Hitler was not prepared to go to war is naive- he wanted what he wanted and he was prepared to get it by any means available.
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  #1788  
Old 12-10-2017, 12:22 PM
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That is true of course. The government’s official stance towards Germany was totally based in appeasement which again, made the Windsor visit in 1937 not only uncontroversial but very much in keeping with government policy.
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  #1789  
Old 12-10-2017, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by O-H Anglophile View Post
Not everyone in government took that view--Churchill had been warning about Hitler since 1933. But too many in Britain didn't want another war and went the appeasement route, and look where that took them.
most people in the UK didn't want a war, after the horrors of the Great War. But that didn't mean that "most people" esp those on the Left, were in favour of Hitler or wishing to visit him.
Churchill too had spent the 30s criticising Hitler and trying to get the UK to prepare for war, but because of the horrible memories of WWI, the Govt and upper classes and many other classes as well saw Chruchill as irresponsible and "too fond of war making".
but as far as I can recollect, there were certainly those in the UK who disliked the Windsors paying Hitler a friendly visit...
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  #1790  
Old 12-10-2017, 12:38 PM
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Lloyd George was very much a liberal and he went. Of his own free will too, not on government business. He was simply interested. National Socialism. Socialism being the word that intrigued many on the left. That changed of course (and before the war too) but we can’t deny that a great many Britons not only approved of what Hitler was doing but wanted the same regime installed here in the UK. When the Windsors visited, they were simply going to see a fascinating man full of new and inspired ideas. That’s how it was seen. It’s only now, with hindsight, that we know how naive they were.

Of course, what they got upto there is debatable too. There is a theory that the Duke (without the Duchess) visited the early concentration camps and toured SS training schools. If so, that wasn’t just naive. That was stupid.
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  #1791  
Old 12-10-2017, 12:49 PM
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Not everyone had a grasp of what was going on, and something simple had to be said to help people understand what was going on. Almost everyone in the royal family is a duke, but introducing David as Prince Edward was the easiest way to bring it home that he was no longer King. I don’t think it was anymore complicated than that. Yes, in know titles merge when the heir becomes King, but simple calling him the newly created Duke of Windsor may not have been understood by many of the masses.
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  #1792  
Old 12-10-2017, 05:00 PM
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Edward didn't seek the consent or approval of the British Govt or Foreign Office to the visit to Germany at all. According to 'King Edward VIII' by Philip Zeigler (Chapter 'The Duke in Germany') the first notification the British Govt received was a letter from the Duke to the pro-German Ambassador to Berlin, Neville Henderson.

'Although our two weeks tour is being organised under the auspices of the Reich it will naturally be of a purely private nature' wrote the Duke.' (In fact, as we know, it was far from that.)

Regarding this, Sir Robert Vansitartt, (the anti appeasement Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office from 1930-1938) wrote to the Duke pointing out the lack of advance warning to London. 'The direct approach to our missions, without our knowledge, is hardly fair.'

The Duke felt that the FO had made no effort to keep in touch with him so why should he consult them?' (Surely a bit disingenuous?)
Henderson, (who had, in spite of opposition by Labour MPs to a speech of his on the subject of friendship with Germany a few weeks before, felt the visit could be useful) told the Duke, no doubt with a sense of relief, that he would be on leave at the time of the visit.

The October announcement of the visit also came as a shock to King George VI and his advisers.

(Edward had apparent been encouraged to make the visit by a pro Nazi pal who had loaned him the Austrian villa in which he had awaited Wallis's divorce to be finalised.) And the visit to Germany did prove controversial in regard to British public opinion at the time, which was by no means fully pro-German.
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  #1793  
Old 12-10-2017, 05:03 PM
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Once Edward abdicated he didn't need or seek the permission of the British government to do anything. He certainly didn't have their permission to visit Hitler. They had to virtually kidnap him to get him out of Europe due to the way he was speaking and acting in the early years of the war and they sent him to the Bahamas to keep him out of harm's way as he was out of the government's control at that point - was from the signing of the abdication onwards. They were afraid that the fascists were going to use him against Britain - to divide the nation - if they were able to secure his person but they didn't want him anywhere he could do any harm or do anything real, hence the Bahamas rather than say GG to Australia or NZ on the other side of the world. Somewhere small and remote was the ideal place for him.
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  #1794  
Old 12-10-2017, 05:06 PM
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[QUOTE=M. Payton;2049237]
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Originally Posted by Iluvbertie View Post
By the time Wallis became an issue the decision had been made by the government - he had to go - and they weren't necessarily talking abdication if necessary.

My grandmother's uncle was part of the government at the time and he wrote a number of letters to her over the following years making it perfectly clear that the decision was made around Easter time that he had to go. It was simply a matter of 'how' by then as he wasn't doing what the King was supposed to do - he wanted to meddle in politics and have a public say about policy. He didn't seem to understand that he was a figurehead and not an active member of the system.

When I was studying this issue at uni I asked my British family for any other documents they had relating to this period and they sent me some which again make it clear that by Easter the government decided he had to go. My uncle also left instructions in his will that ALL of his private papers, including any relating to his political life and service were to be destroyed - they were, even those I had which were copies along with the letters written to my mother and grandmother that even hinted at these matters but I remember them as I read and re-read them many times.

Wallis was the excuse but not the reason. To tell the public that the King was effectively colluding with the enemy, wittingly or unwittingly, would have been a far greater constitutional crisis than the abdication for 'the woman I love' which was also an excuse he could accept rather than being told 'you are basically a traitor and have to go' ... which is what Charles I was told.

Could you explain this to me as I am learning about this time period in the BRF History? I have seen pictures of Edward with Hitler and do not want to jump to conclusions yet there are lots of questions I have about this. Thank you...
There were lots of little things that gradually built up and not only to do with the Germans.

He would openly discuss the contents of the boxes, papers marked 'for your eyes only' with people over dinner - not always foreigners but a range of people, including journalists, opposition politicians, friends etc. This was sensitive information and should only have been discussed with the PM or the relevant minister of the Crown but he didn't believe that.

He wanted to put forward his own policies at times - telling the PM to do things because he wanted them done and objected when told that it wasn't his job to propose legislation.

Obviously his open support for fascism - not just in Germany but in Italy and Spain - was raising some concerns amongst the establishment.
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  #1795  
Old 12-10-2017, 09:44 PM
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He seems thoughtful here, and it's at the end of his life to boot. What is your opinion, Gaudete? Would he have made a good king?

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Now seems as a good a time as any to share this, though it may have been shared before (in which case I apologise!). I've heard the audio many times but never seen the video.

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  #1796  
Old 12-11-2017, 03:03 AM
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only if a good king was someone who flrited with the enemy, refused to come home at a critical point of the war and had to be sent away to the Bahamas to keep him out of trouble.
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  #1797  
Old 12-11-2017, 03:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Curryong View Post
Edward didn't seek the consent or approval of the British Govt or Foreign Office to the visit to Germany at all. According to 'King Edward VIII' by Philip Zeigler (Chapter 'The Duke in Germany') the first notification the British Govt received was a letter from the Duke to the pro-German Ambassador to Berlin, Neville Henderson.



(Edward had apparent been encouraged to make the visit by a pro Nazi pal who had loaned him the Austrian villa in which he had awaited Wallis's divorce to be finalised.) And the visit to Germany did prove controversial in regard to British public opinion at the time, which was by no means fully pro-German.
Its soem time since I read Zieglers book but I thought that he had not sought permission from the Govt. Technically yes he was a private individual and did not need it, but he must have been aware that as a high profile former Royal, his actions were likely to have a great impact. Had he been on friendlier terms with the establishment its possilble that the visit, even if controversial, might have been useful to the Brit Govt, as he could have been a source of info on what Hitler was thinking... but I doubt if Edward was really interested in that, he just wanted to be seen as "important" again and to go on a trp to a foreign head of state.. and show wallis off.
Of course a lot of Britihs public opinion was not pro German or pro Hitler - which weren't the same. But generaly I think its fair to say that Britian as a whole did not want to go to war after the horrors of WWI. They hoped it was possible to control Hitler's grabbing at territoty in Europe and to restrain him in general towards Jews and so on, without actualy going to War. Its understandable and forgivable that after the terrible blood letting of WWI, they hoped to avoid having to do that again, 20 years later.
In retrospect we can see that tryng to negotiate with Hitler was foolish and only gave him the idea that Britian and the democracies would let him do what he liked, but at the time, it is understandable that they hoped they could avoid conflict.
True that the person who loaned Edward the villa in France was a fascist, and Edward was problaby influenced by him... though I don't think he was ever any serious kind of political animal...
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  #1798  
Old 12-12-2017, 11:08 AM
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In Michael Bloch's book "The Secret File of the Duke of Windsor", there are several reproductions of letters exchanged between the Duke and the British government between 1936 and 1943 in which he asks for permission to make visits to Germany and the United States. This would later lead to a total breakdown of the friendship between the Duke and Churchill when the Duke complained that in light of the work they were undertaken, the British press were still not warming to Wallis. Churchill then replied that he no longer considered the Duke to be the friend he once had.

Churchill didn't like the rather nasty comments David continued to make about the Royal Family, neither did he approve of certain pro-German comments David was making to the American press. In her biography of the Duchess and in interviews afterwards, Lady Mosley insisted that Churchill had first recommended the Duke as interlocutor between the Duke and Hitler and he had been supportive of the 1937 visit. Whether they sought permission for the meeting with Hitler or not, even before their short-lived tenure as Governor Generals of the Bahamas, the Duke was keeping in regular contact with the Foreign Office. He may not have needed their permission, but certainly he was informing them of his intentions and the visit in 1937 was not a surprise to them. Had they wanted it stopped, it would have been entirely possible.

Quote:
He seems thoughtful here, and it's at the end of his life to boot. What is your opinion, Gaudete? Would he have made a good king?
This is such a difficult one to answer. From the evidence we have as to how his short reign played out, my initial response would be no. But that isn't to say that he wouldn't have grown into his role and been a better King later down the line. I have to say, I doubt it.

On the one hand, David wanted to modernise the monarchy and make it more approachable and that was a positive. It's that which has allowed the monarchy to survive into the 21st century but the task which ultimately was handled by his niece proves how such a modernisation should be handled. Slowly, with dignity, allowing the public to catch up. The Queen has made the transition from 1952 to 2017 by taking things one step at a time though it would be false to suggest that the transition has been entirely organic. Certain events have kicked the monarchy forward because if it hadn't moved a little, it would have collapsed. It's taken great effort and very hard work and I don't think David had that in him. As with most things, he had wonderful intentions but never the willpower to see them through.

One example would be his famous "Something must be done" quote. This thrilled the public and put him in touch with the ordinary working man who had fond affections for David because of his role in WW1. But that isn't actually what the King said. He actually said, "Something should be done to get them working again" and that was extremely dangerous. The King was trying to direct government policy and whilst the Baldwin government totally agreed that the problem with the collieries in the mid 1930s needed attention, it hadn't formed part of their message which won them the election in 1935. They were only really a year into their agenda and how could they ever take the King's advice and devote their efforts to helping the unemployed when he then threw them into a constitutional crisis with his marriage?

David was impatient and a little short sighted. I don't think he understood the limitations of his role and I think he would have mistaken popularity for approval. He also may have found that whilst the public supported him on one issue, they would have disagreed with them on others. King vs Government is one thing. King vs People? That's quite another. David had potential but he cared more about parties than he did studies. He cared more about appearances than he did substance. Monarchy requires one to be selfless and to put duty first. David wasn't made that way. Let's say that he waited until 1950 to put forward the idea of marriage to Wallis after leading the country through the war and with some real achievements under his belt. I doubt he'd have been forced to abdicate and a morganatic marriage would have been entirely possible. At the very least it might have been considered properly. But again, he was impatient. He often wanted praise and rewards for things he hadn't actually achieved and so why would anybody be sympathetic to his needs?

Of course, if you were to ask me if Wallis would have made a good consort?

She had the ability, she had the intelligence. I could never see her as Queen Wallis but as Duchess of Lancaster or as Princess Consort with a limited public role? She'd have done it extremely well indeed.
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  #1799  
Old 12-12-2017, 03:18 PM
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Great post, Gaudete. As always, informative and well sourced.

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Of course, if you were to ask me if Wallis would have made a good consort?

She had the ability, she had the intelligence. I could never see her as Queen Wallis but as Duchess of Lancaster or as Princess Consort with a limited public role? She'd have done it extremely well indeed.
Well, that's interesting. I've never heard a positive thing said about Wallis in that regard.

In fact, in one film about the whole Wallis/David affair, or was it in the film 'The King's Speech'? There was this scene regarding ancient trees being cut down on a royal estate which the Duke and Duchess of York are learning about as they drive to a gathering (hostessed by Wallis) with the new King. It seemed to be suggesting that this sacrilege was initiated because of the influence of Wallis. Or maybe it was to suggest how much David would not respect British 'traditions', or the class status quo.

The whole series of episodes showing Wallis (in the film) cement this idea that Wallis was an influence that would destroy the BRF (or maybe even Britain). Cutting down the trees was just the beginning of changes to come had she (and David) been allowed to stick around. Just one of endless examples of how much the negative spin against Wallis is entrenched in the public mind.

Your comment stating that Wallis would have done being Queen extremely well must have many gasping for breath. I mean that sincerely, not sarcastically, because the scale of the animus goes as far as to fault her for being 'ugly'.

BTW, regarding another post some time back by another poster who I have forgotten who, Wallis' face mole was likely not evident most of her life; moles like hers tend to grow as one ages, and the really large mole we see in her pictures likely grew once she hit her 50's, 60's when she had hormonal changes. Just wanted to say that as it's bothered me since the mole was mentioned as an aspect that made her 'ugly'.
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  #1800  
Old 12-12-2017, 03:27 PM
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I never bought the popular view of Wallis as a wicked woman either. I believe that she did the best she could do with her situation at the time, just like the rest of us.
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