Edward VIII

H.M. King Edward VIII

 

A brief introduction

In the eyes of a reader of ancient and medieval history, the monarch is the leader and symbol of a literate and warrior caste. In Ancient Greece, he was considered a tyrant; with the mandate of his people he would don the authority from their wishes and dissolve the corrupt bureaucracies that, over time, succumbed to the material pleasures of hedonism through money and forgot their sacred duty to their people. The tyrant was meant to supplant this corruption and restore order to the nationhood of the folk. He was a considerate and bold statesman, but they were not dynasties. These tyrants were philosopher kings; seizing power through ambitious triumph of the will to bypass the wishes of the nobles, whom the masses held in contempt. The masses, therefore, loved the tyrant because he didn’t just come from a similar background as them. He restored their confidence and out of this sowed the seeds of progress in all the areas of art, science, agriculture, finance, and scholarly literacy.

Evolution

Over time, however, some tyrants lost in the throes of their own power became what is known today as a demagogue. He would exploit whatever ignorance his people had fettered in order to maintain his power. This could include ignorance of his inability to wage war or failure to end a war that threatened to kill more of his own people over a forgotten fortune, or his failure to root out corruption. In the case of England’s Charles I, it was uncompromising belief in the “divine right of Kings” to continue his dynasty. This led to his execution. Dynasties have both positive and negative attributes. They can instill a sense of duty to their heirs, making them fit and ready to rule. Dynasty can also rely on a single genetic line when thousands of more qualified candidates could have taken their place as greater statesmen with even greater grasp of the needs of the folk.

Noble dictatorship then became eccentric dynasty, and an example can be found in the Greek named Solon. Solon was a noble statesman, a warrior and a poet. One of his poems stirred the people into recapturing the island of Salamis and the people chose Solon to rule them. He cancelled most of the debts that his city-folk owed to other men. He gave them all the same rights as men, and he became a famous lawgiver. A similar figure, named Pisistratus, ruled Athens for twelve years and the city grew richer and strong under his leadership. Upon his death, his two sons attempted to rule in his stead and create a dynasty, but the people drove them away.[i] But what if a dynasty were able to continue its line without fear of revolution from a people tired of inaction and corruption? The greatest example in history can be found in the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha – today’s ‘House of Windsor’.

United Kingdom

This dynasty has claimed to rule the United Kingdom since Victoria married Albert, her cousin, in 1840. Though dynasty in Britain can be traced back to the Kings of the Dark Ages, revolution was made a thing of past by the 19th Century and the English sense of “not making a fuss” extended to even the most embarrassing levels of propriety. This can be summed up by the uncompromising belief in the principle that the British Head of State, ruled through a family bordering on the inbred, should be “Constitutional”. They should have powers but not use them. They should have opinions but never voice them. They should have grand armies but never command them. To put it bluntly, they are majestic and illustrious puppets. In the case of the United Kingdom, the British people should instead be ruled practically by a class of merchants. These merchants are given credit for forging the British Empire with its privateer exploits against the rival European colonial powers of Spain, Portugal and France. But Geo-politically, Britain has needed to conquer other lands for its people to survive. This, therefore, is a noble aim based on the laws of nature, for all of nature’s groups have only one thing in mind: survive by means of accumulating enough living space and resources to feed the people. However, with the introduction of merchantmen comes the entrenchment of capitalism. This ideology brought about an end to feudalism and initially claimed to be a scientific experiment to provide property rights to citizens. However, left without the necessity of rationing or safeguarding of the folk, allows the creations of monopoly and free movement of capital backed by the deliberate indebtedness of servitude to money. These conditions, when combined with the socially Darwinian industrial revolution, led to a period of serfdom. The government claimed to conserve the principles of doing nothing. The monarchy, whose vast estates remained untouched by the changes of a thousand years, stood by and continued shooting pheasants without a care in the world.

Youth

This brings me onto the subject of this short biography. He was born in June 1894 in Richmond Park, London, to his parents the Duke and Duchess of York (later George V and Queen Mary of Teck). Then he was officially baptised as Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David. He would be known to his friends and family as “David”. His upbringing was marred by the hateful practice of deliberate isolation from his parents; to be kept in the company and care of a Royal nanny. She loved David to the extremes and prevented him from seeing his parents on the rare occasion he was permitted to. He saw his parents once in the morning and once before bed. And on many such occasions, the nanny pinched David so harshly that his parents would send him back to the nanny in disgust. Better parents would probably have tried to calm him down themselves, and David’s mother Mary was particularly uncomfortable with children.[ii]

Edward VIII with family

The Royal Family. [from left anti-clockwise] Edward Prince of Wales, Henry Duke of Gloucester, Albert Duke of York, George Duke of Kent, Queen Mary of Teck, George V, Mary Princess Royal.

Letters have revealed insight into the ice that ran through the family veins. Upon the death of David’s grandfather, Edward VII, his mother wrote to him not to console but to remind him of the titles bestowed upon her that he must conform to. At the tender age of 17, David’s investiture as the Prince of Wales placed a permanent spotlight onto his life. His father would be furthermore distant as King George V. His father George was as cold and bitter as the Scottish winter and a servant to tradition much like his predecessor. He would enforce a mundane way of life onto his sons by making them collect stamps. He developed an almost sociopathic hobby of shooting pheasants and other such wildlife in his spare time; an interest his eldest son David never likened to.

World War 1

The First World War gives us a glimpse of a spark in Edward that never faded. To the British establishment, this proved to be the opening of pandora’s box. On the outbreak of war, Edward joined up with the Grenadier Guards. At age 20 he was the same generation of the men being sent into fruitless bloodshed, and Edward was determined not to sit this one out in a French chateau behind the lines. He feverishly petitioned the Secretary for War Lord Kitchener to be permitted to join the men on the frontline and serve, carrying the risk of the infamous charging “over the top”. Kitchener rejected his plea, citing the possibility of his capture by the enemy. He wrote to his father that if he were to die in battle, he could easily be replaced by one of his brothers, four in all.

Despite the concern from above, Edward toured the frontlines as often as he could, and spent many nights in the trenches listening to the sounds of the shells and meeting all manner of ordinary men. In later years Edward reflected that he “needed to be found worthy and to share in the risks and struggles of men”. He was extremely critical of the way in-which the war was being waged and the ineptitude of the strategies employed. At the height of the Battle of the Somme, in-which on one day alone nearly 20,000 Britons were slaughtered, he wrote ‘These continuous heavy casualty lists make me sick . . . I can’t keep the wretched infantry being slaughtered out of my thoughts.’.[iii] His devotion to duty and to take the same risks that the men took, combined with the intuition to acknowledge the fruitlessness of the suffering, adds to his character as a member of the Royal Family that refused to be stamped onto a letter of subservience by politicians. The First World War, he wrote later, ‘had made it possible for me to share an unparalleled human experience with all manner of men.’ By the end of the war he would confide in one of his love affairs: ‘I can’t help liking all the men & taking a huge interest in them.’[iv]

Edward VIII during the Great War

The Prince of Wales at the front line during the Great War.

His disdain at the war did not just involve letters, but also medals. In 1916, he was awarded the Military Cross. This is normally a reward bestowed upon a soldier of great valour in the face of the enemy during an operation, yet Edward felt he did not deserve such an award. What he experienced in this apocalyptic time for all Europeans involved must have been a watershed for the young Prince. Not only did he respect the men he rubbed shoulders with, but they reciprocated such respect. This contact with the people did not end with the war, and Edward went to great lengths to ensure the veterans of the war were treated properly and with respect. He visited a hospital in Belgium in 1923, home to several patients with facial disfigurement from shrapnel wounds. He inquired the hospital staff as to why he wasn’t shown all the patients and was told this was to hide a veteran that had been disfigured to the point that they thought the Prince would be repulsed. The Prince defied this decree and ordered to meet with him; he was taken to the patient’s room, approached the abandoned and battered veteran, and kissed him.[v]

Scarred

The memory of the war never faded and would leave a scar greater than any for the Prince. This scar overlapped another scar, perhaps even deeper; going back to his days as a toddler. He acquired an eccentric taste for married or older women. Such company that could replace the stolen years he could never bring back due to the perpetually cold-hearted approach by a mother that treated him more like a subordinate than a child and son. This speaks of a great tragedy that such a mind of natural enthusiasm to help his people was almost sabotaged by his lack of a normal childhood. Nevertheless, he did meet his match, the fair American socialite Wallis Simpson. The official story is that Edward, upon deciding to marry Simpson, was a King that refused to do his duty and instead favoured his selfish desire for love and affection. He abdicated the throne after less than a year of acquiring it. History tells us that this is nothing more than a cover story for a successfully underhanded attempt by the government to usurp and dethrone its own King. Scandalous to the point of novelty, but a tragedy when one thinks of what could have been had he decided to ignore the bluffs and fight on.

Conflict

Members of the political establishment, by the 1930s, were growing ever concerned with the manner in-which Edward carried out his royal duties. He seemed to ignore protocol and voiced his concerns as candidly as his feelings propelled. Edward VIII was proclaimed King after the death of his father on 20 January 1936.  From the moment he ascended to the throne, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the Conservative Party leader Stanley Baldwin, instructed the domestic intelligence service (MI5) to wiretap the King’s phone calls. Unlike what many have said was the reason for these seditious taps, namely that his relationship with Simpsons was too controversial, was a cover. Edward had increasingly become closely acquainted with the German ambassador Leopold von Hoesch. In February the British foreign office learned that Edward had been an admirer of Hitler and National Socialism and the MI5 wiretaps must have echoed this sentiment.[vi] Views such as these placed the establishment in an uproar. In their minds, something must be done to rid them of a troublesome King. As it turned out, the quality which proved troublesome was his ability to reach out to all his folk no matter what background and criticise the government’s inaction.

In November of that year, Edward drove through the night to tour South Wales. There was a deep desire in his heart and mind; to see first-hand how the poorest of his people were suffering and what measures could be taken to help them. During his tour he visited the town of Dowlais, home to a former steelwork which employed thousands of men. The slums were horrific. The King walked through the crowds and among the men, cheering him on in weak screams with gaunt faces of malnourishment. He was taken aback by what he saw and said to one of his staff the infamous cry: “These works brought these men hope. Something must be done to get them back into work.”. The effect of this was astounding. The people of the slums gleamed with hope. For years the government failed to do anything about these people. Here was their Sovereign King dressed in an overcoat doffing his bowler hat at them, who’s predecessor for years stood silent with nothing but a scold. Here was their king openly expressing his affirmation to protect his people.

Edward VIII, receiving a tremendous reception, flanked by government ministers on his visit to South Wales, November 1936.

 

The King’s comments were an overt criticism of government policy and of the entire political establishment’s ability to look after the interests of the people. Baldwin was incensed and immediately demanded retaliation. Here his king went behind his back to bring the state of the depressed areas of a country he was supposed to govern uncovered to the whole world. On 16 November 1936, Edward invited Prime Minister Baldwin to Buckingham Palace and expressed his desire to marry Simpson. Simpson was waiting for her divorce to be finalised, and then she would be free to marry Edward. As the “titular head of the Church of England” Edward was, by protocol, not allowed to marry a divorced woman. Edward made one final attempt to evade the threats of the government. He cited to Baldwin his “ancient right to address his people” and wrote a speech to be given over the radio. In it, he stressed his desire to put duty to Britain before anything else and stated that his marriage to Wallis would impede nothing in his duties. Baldwin suppressed the speech and blocked any attempt to broadcast; his reasoning was that this would be a “personal” speech by a private individual without the consent of the government. This reveals exactly what the King was fighting. The real power lies in the deep state and is wielded by people whose only concern is for popularity. The King’s concern was his people.

Many newspapers came out in support of the King’s right to remain on the throne, and through November and December, the King was threatened with the resignation of all the governments of the dominions if he decided to marry Simpson. The King regrettably took the bluff. On December 10 at Fort Belvedere, Edward VIII signed the instrument of abdication, renouncing his claim to the throne. The people had lost their philosopher king. The government, in-particular Prime Minister Baldwin, rejoiced. Edward was succeeded by his younger brother Albert to be proclaimed George VI. Thus, the tradition of constitutional inactivity and puppetry would continue to haunt Buckingham Palace. The new King made Edward the Duke of Windsor.

Visit to Germany

The tragedy does not stop there. Political forces backed by monetary self-interest, most notably in the wake of the warmonger Winston Churchill, were repeatedly threatening to declare war on Germany if Adolf Hitler attempted to regain the territories lost in the Treaty of Versailles. Meanwhile, the Duke of Windsor married Wallis in June 1937 while they were living in France. The Duke was determined to make another mark on history by making an official visit to Germany later that year. Accompanied by his wife Wallis, they were led through many of Germany’s industrial works which impressed Edward for their ability to reach full employment in such a short time. The Duke was invited to Berchtesgaden to visit Hitler and speak to his associates at the Berghof, his Alpine retreat. Documents revealing exactly what was said has since been “lost” in the archives of history. A hint of their conversation is found when Edward spoke to Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, that he had been brought down ‘partly through murky intrigues but mostly on account of his healthy social instincts and Germanophile sentiments’.[vii]

Edward flanked by his wife and German leader Adolf Hitler, 1937.

As we know, the war went on and unjustly waged despite repeated attempts by Hitler to end the madness by holding talks with Britain in the hopes that a peaceful settlement could be reached. Churchill egregiously rejected every demand, and even ignored Hitler’s letters prior to the war about the need “for the good of the white race” that an Anglo-German alliance be maintained to combat the threat of Bolshevism.[viii] In 1940, after the Battle of France was decided, the Duke of Windsor moved to Portugal and was housed by a wealthy banker in Lisbon. During his stay he was bitterly attacking Churchill’s needless prolongation of the war and even called the war itself a crime.[ix] Churchill was terrified that the Duke’s influence might create a mood of anti-war sentiment in Britain, so he ordered the Duke to return to British soil under threat of a court martial. He was sent to the Bahamas and lived out the rest of the war thousands of miles away. For Churchill, this was a relief. For Hitler, this was the end of the peace talks. The war went on and the blood spilt. Europe collapsed under the weight of Bolshevism and the British Empire crumbled under its own effort to kill its own brothers and sisters across the English Channel. By ignoring Edward’s wishes, Britain and the European people were financially and spiritually bankrupt.

Conclusion

The tragedy of epic proportions, the life of Edward VIII is one that has been largely censored and ridiculed by the media and the world of liberal academia. But I will always respect and admire him for daring to do what no other Monarch had done before or has done since: putting himself before his people as its philosopher King and setting a new precedent for leadership. Ultimately, he was the King that cared for his people. He was, unfortunately, the King against time.


[i] Ogan, Ernest, The Wonderland of Knowledge Volume II

[ii] See hyperlink ‘Royal nanny’.

[iii] Williams, Susan, The People’s King: The True Story of the Abdication

[iv] Williams, The People’s King

[v] Trethewey, Rachel, Before Wallis: Edward VIII’s Other Women

[vi] Irving, David, Churchill’s War

[vii] Irving, Churchill’s War

[viii] Irving, Churchill’s War

[ix] Irving, David, Hitler’s War