The Harry and Meghan episode is worse than the abdication crisis

There are lots of parallels between Wallis Simpson and former King Edward VIII (left) and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (right) (Insider)

Few weeks ago, I reviewed Andrew Lownie’s enthralling and fascinating book Traitor King: The Scandalous Exile of the Duke & Duchess of Windsor. The author – a disillusioned monarchist who believes in institution but feels let down by some members of it – generously accepted to answer a few questions for this blog. Below is the content of our discussion.


Mr. Lownie, while researching Traitor King, did you make any findings that surprised you?

Lots not least the extent of the Windsors’ dealings with the Nazis which can be found in documents, the knowledge that the Royal Family and Government had of their activities and the rather bizarre relationship the couple had and their bisexuality. Also, the degree of the attempted British cover up of his treachery.

Understandably, Winston Churchill is a frequent guest in the book. I might be wrong, but I didn’t get the sense that he became a tooth-and-nail opponent of the Duke of Windsor during the war. How would you describe the evolution of the relationship between the two men?

Churchill had been one of the Duke’s strongest supporters during the Abdication, mainly because of his romantic notion of the monarchy, but the scales fell when he saw the Duke’s duplicity over the financial settlement in 1937 and the disloyalty shown during the war when Churchill had to threaten him with court martial. The relationship then became more pragmatic with Churchill trying to find him a job after the war and suppressing the embarrassing captured German documents, but he refused to join a cruise when he learnt the Windsors would be present.

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The King who jeopardized the Monarchy

The cover of Prince Harry’s memoir was released last week, in mounting anticipation of the day it hits the shelves next January. Since their wedding in May 2018, Harry and Meghan have proven to be distracting – to say the least – for the Royal Family. Their staunch desire to center everything around their desires, feelings and intentions goes against the grain of an institution based on selflessness and duty.

Even though the revelations contained in his book will probably rock and ruffle Buckingham Palace, Prince Harry’s fifth position in the line of succession to the throne render his tribulations much less catastrophic than those posed by his late grandmother’s uncle, King Edward VIII. On December 10, 1936, this Monarch deposed the scepter and the orb for the sake of marrying the Queen of his heart, the American-born divorcee Wallis Simpson.

His brother, George VI, was left to pick up the pieces. He was neither supposed nor prepared to accede the throne. The reputation of the institution was severely tarnished, but the history of the world can be grateful that George Windsor was tasked with this mission because his brother David (Edward VIII)’s presence on the throne would have proved catastrophic in the period leading to and during World War II.

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Elizabeth II a rapproché la monarchie du peuple

Le 10 décembre 1936 marque une date cruciale dans l’histoire de la monarchie britannique en général, mais aussi de la petite Elizabeth Windsor en particulier. Son oncle, le roi Édouard VIII abdique pour vivre pleinement son amour avec Wallis Simpson, une divorcée américaine. La jeune fille est alors âgée de 10 ans. Son monde, celui de sa famille immédiate également, vient de basculer radicalement. Son père, le duc d’York, lui succède de facto et prend le nom de George VI. Il s’agit de l’une des pires crises traversées par la monarchie britannique, un point tournant pendant lequel on s’interroge sérieusement sur l’avenir de la Couronne. Tout aurait pu basculer et les tenues d’apparat rangées dans les musées pour l’éternité. Ce ne fut pas le cas. Heureusement.

George VI, notamment en raison de son stoïcisme, de sa résilience et de son empathie, remet l’ouvrage sur le métier. Les nouveaux locataires de Buckingham Palace commencent à recoudre le blason de la famille royale dans le tissu social britannique et de l’Empire. Elizabeth n’est pas une enfant comme les autres. Le coup de crayon donné par son oncle en cette date fatidique fait en sorte qu’elle ne pourra plus jamais baisser la garde. Elle est l’héritière du trône et, 15 ans plus tard, elle relèvera le gant dans un règne déchaîné de tourments et ponctué de moments glorieux.

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