King Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson in 1936, has long been rumored to have passed critical information to the Nazis to enable them to target the royal family’s living quarters when they bombed Buckingham Palace in 1940.
Now, historian Alexander Larman has reopened the debate, saying Edward’s American partner Simpson claimed the duke had tipped off the Nazis. He says incontrovertible proof of Edward’s collusion may soon be uncovered in the royal archives, according to a report in the London Times.
Speaking at the Oxford Literary Festival, Larman said that a surprising amount of information had been made available to him in the archives at Windsor Castle. He added that a royal archivist had told him: “We are not in the business of protecting the Duke of Windsor’s reputation.”
Edward was an admirer of Hitler and met him in Munich in 1937. The contemporary diarist Chips Channon wrote that Edward and Simpson supported the Nazis, and reported on rumors saying they were hoping to be installed as puppet rulers of the U.K in the event of a Nazi victory.
Larman told the festival that Simpson had claimed that Edward had provided “inside information” on the layout of Buckingham Palace.
Larman said: “The Nazis knew what they were doing and that was because they had inside information [from the duke]… I don’t think he [Edward VIII] wanted to see him [his brother, George VI] dead but... he was in a position where he knew exactly where everybody was in Buckingham Palace.”
Several bombs hit the family’s private living quarters and the family was considered lucky to escape without injury.
The raid ultimately shored up support for the monarchy and the queen (better known in later life as the queen mother) famously said afterwards: “I am glad we have been bombed. Now we can look the East End in the eye.”
The historian Andrew Lownie, author of the book Traitor King about Edward VIII, dismissed the claims. Telling The Daily Beast there was no evidence to back up the claims that Edward colluded with the Nazis to help them pinpoint the family’s rooms. He pointed out that similar claims have been made periodically over several decades.
Lownie said: “I was the first historian to see the new material on Edward Vlll under a more open policy at the Royal Archives who I’ve found very helpful. The archivists claim everything they can release on him has been released subject to data protection and they were reading just ahead of me as I was working there last year.
“The bombing raid on Buckingham Palace is an old chestnut. There is no evidence to support any internal leak whether from Duke of Windsor or anyone else. Larman makes the statement in his book with no evidence. The fact is Buckingham Palace was a sitting and obvious target and it wouldn’t be difficult to drop a bomb on it.”