SECRET NAZI PAST
THE MONARCHY'S CONTROVERSIAL LINKS TO HITLER
EVIDENCE # 1: LEAKED VIDEO WHY WAS THE QUEEN FILMED DOING A NAZI SALUTE?
The movie is just 20 seconds long, but its effects on the Royal Family’s reputation will linger for decades, hanging over the House of Windsor like a black cloud.
The grainy black-and-white footage is shot in the gardens of Balmoral Castle, between 1933 and 1934. Frolicking around on the lawns are the Queen Mother, Prince Edward (who’d later become King Edward VIII), Princess Margaret – and a seven-year-old Princess Elizabeth.
At first, there’s nothing sinister about the video. The family are playing with the royal corgis. Then, out of the blue, it happens: the girl who one day will be Queen faces the camera and raises her arm in what appears to be a Nazi salute, followed by her mother and Uncle Edward. The two adults then encourage Margaret to follow suit.
The controversial film, first leaked by the UK newspaper The Sun in July 2015, sent shockwaves through British society. Here was a future monarch, now head of state and the Commonwealth, performing a ritual that had become Hitlerhitler’ss trademark as the Nazi Party rose to power during the 1930s. Even more staggering is the fact that just seven years later, the Queen Mother and her husband George VI would become symbols of wartime defiance as London was bombed during the Blitz of 1940.
Historians, though, are quick to pour water over suggestions that the Queen or the Queen Mother were ever Nazi sympathisers, , pointing out that the video needs to be watched in context. Respectedspected scholar James Holland toldd The Sun: “They are all having a laugh, there are lots of smiles, so it’s all a big joke. I don’t thinknk there was a child in Britain in the 19301930s0s or 40s who has not performedrformed a mock Nazi salute as a bit of a lalark.rk. It just shows the Royalyal Family are as human as thee next man.”
Others historians have commented that agedged seven, the now-90-year-old monarch couldn’t have comprehended mprehended the future implicationsations of making a Nazi salute.
What’s not upp for debate, however, are the right-wing inclinations of Prince Edward, who a couplcouplelee of years after the footage was s shot would brieflybriefly be King before controversially abdicating. Edward’s links with Hitler’s fascism are a poorly kept secret. He once described the Führer as “a decent chap”.
“It is right that it [the film] is put into the public domain,” says Dr Karina Urbach from the Institute of Historical Research. “It’s high time the Royal Archives were open for serious research on the 1930s and the issue of Edward’s politics and their impact upoupon his generation within the Royal Family.” Ththese views are explored in more detail over the page… >
“It is disappointing that decades film shot eight from ago and apparently personal Her Majesty’s have been family archive exploited in obtained and this manner.” Statement from Palace Buckingham
EVIDENCE # 2: EDWARD’S HITHITLERTLER LINKS WAS BRITAIN’S KING A NAZI SYMPATHISERSYMPATHISER? R?
To the average Brit, Edward VIII is a romanticised figure; the handsome devil of a king who abdicated from the throne in order to marry his true love, the twice-divorced American, Wallis Simpson. History has proved, however, that the debonair monarch hid a darker side from the public, one which harboured far-right-wing views and a questionable relationship with Hitler.
Like mostst of the British royal family (see page 14), King Edward had close ties with Germany.many. His parents Queen Mary and Georgege V boasted strong Germanic heritage. Edward himself was fluent in the German language, once telling his friend Diana Mosley, wife of British fascist leader Oswald Mosley, that “every drop of blood in my veins is German.”
This extended to his politics. Edward, like many British aristocrats of the era, feared Communism, which at the time had a foothold in Russia under Stalin, and was spreading through both southern and eastern Europe. The only weaponn to defeat the Red Menace was, Edward believed,belie the brand of fascism practiced by the Nazis.
After Hitler’s party rose to powerpowe in 1933, one of Edward’s equerries, Sir Dudley Forwood, reported: “We were none of us averse to Hitler politically. We felt the Nazi regime
“The Führer hoped to install Edward back on the throne once the Nazis conquered England.” Andrew Morton, royal biographer.
w was a more appropriate government th than the Weimar Republic, which ha had been extremely socialist.”
If Edward was drawn to Hitler, th then the feeling was mutual. A According to Andrew Morton’s book 1 17 Carnations: The Royals, The N Nazis And The Biggest Cover-up In History – a publication which Bbuckingham Palace tried to ban – the Führer began wooing Edward soon after becoming chancellor in 1933, encouraging teenage German aristocrat Princess Friederike to romance the then-bachelor prince. Hitler hoped to revive bygone days when English and German royalty only married each other.
Edward eventually wed Mrs Simpson but that didn’t stop Hitler from inviting Edward and his wife – now titled the Duke and Duchess of Wwindsor post-abdication – to visit hhim at his German mountain retreat inn Ococtober 1937. Edward and Hitler hhad a 50-minminute private chat, the ccontents of which reremain a mystery too this day. Infamously, Edwedward eexchanged Nazi salutes with Hitler.
Andrew Morton seems to cconfirm a staggering rumour ththathat had been circulating for yyears: that Hitler planned to eestablish Edward as a ‘puppet king’ iff he succeeded in defeating Bbritain dduring World War Two.
“The Führer hoped to insinstall Eedward back on the thronthrone once the Nnazis conquered Englanengland,” writes Mmorton. “Hitler had ordordered Spanish frfriendsriends of the duke to try and cconvince him to stay in Europe, ooffering him a castlcastle in southern Sspain and more ththan $100 million aas sweeteners. Bbut the Duke and Dduchess were tterrified by Naziininspirednspired rumourumours that the British inintendedntended to mmurder them — a reasonreasonable assumption given Cchurchill’s acrimonious relationship wwith the eex-king. Under enormous pressurepressure, the couple fled to the Bahambahamas, and Hitler was left empty-ptyhanded.”
EVIDENCE # 3: PALACE COVER-UP DID THE ROYAL FAMILY DESTROY DAMNING NAZI EVIDENCE?
Under British law, government documents declared to be in the public interest must be transferred to the openly accessible National Archives after 30 years, unless they pose a threat to national security. Why, then, are the Royal Archives not subject to this kind of scrutiny? This is the question being posed by historians after the Queen’s Nazi salute footage was anonymously linked to The Sun newspaper last year (see pages 10-11). Especially since these files are believed to contain large volumes of correspondence between the royal family and various Nazi politicians and aristocrats.
“The royal family can’t suppress their own history forever,” says Karina Urbach of the Institute of Historical Research. “This is censorship. Censorship is not a democratic value. They have to face their past. I’m coming from a country, Germany, where we all have to face our past.”
Urbach, author of Go-betweens For Hitler, a book about the relationship between the royals and the Nazis, has spent years trying to get her hands on documents in the Royal Archive relating to Nazi Germany – with no luck. She claims she’s seen rows of boxes containing information on the all-important 1930s era that’s off-limits to everyone, even suggesting that certain files belonging to this period “no longer existed”.
“The Archives are a beautiful place to work but not if you want to work on 20th-century material… you don’t get any access to anything political after 1918. We know that after ’45 there was a big clean-up operation. The royals were very worried about correspondence resurfacing and so it was destroyed.”
Still, Buckingham Palace hasn’t been able to totally control the flow of information. Much of the juiciest knowledge about the link between the royals and the Nazis may have been swept under the carpet if it wasn’t for the efforts of two Americanmerican academics, Professor David Harris (then working withh the US State Department) and Dr Paul Sweet, who successfully campaigned for the so-called Windsor File – which amongg other things revealed Edward VIII’S relationship with Hitler – to finally be published in 1957, after years of legal wrangling. >
EVIDENCE# 4: FUNERAL PHOTOS WHY DOES PRINCE PHILIP HAVE SO MANY NAZI RELATIVES?
You know him as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, husband and consort to the Queen. His full name is less familiar and rarely used in public: Philip Mountbatten. But that itself doesn’t tell the full story. Mountbatten is, in fact, an anglicised version of the dynastic name Battenberg, which Philip’s German family members adopted during World War One due to the British public’s anti-german feeling.
And here’s where it gets really interesting. The prince himself took the Mountbatten name in 1947, when he married Princess Elizabeth. The deed may have helped deflect attention away from the Prince’s lesser-known heritage, as a fully paid up member of the House of Schleswig-holstein-sonderburgGlücksburg – a prominent German royal dynasty.
The now 94-year-old Duke of Edinburgh was born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in 1921. He’s been described by biographers as having an unsettled, lonely childhood; his parents separated after his schizophrenic mother was put into a mental hospital, and he was moved from school to school, from country to country. One of these establishments was Schule Schloss Salem in southern Germany, where he arrived in the autumn of 1933, eight months after Hitler had been in power. Schloss Salem was one of the country’s most prominent schools, and the Nazis’ Hitler Youth movement quickly cemented its hold over the place, making all the boys – including Philip – perform Nazi salutes. He stayed for just two years, before being shipped to Gordonstoun school in Scotland.
While there’s no suggestion that Prince Philip – who went on to fight against the Germans in World War Two in the British Royal Navy – ever had Nazi sympathies, the same perhaps can’t be said of three of his
sisters, Margarita, Cecile and Sophie, all of whom married German aristocrats with senior positions in the Nazi Party.
Last year, an English TV documentary entitled Prince Philip: The Plot To Make A King, broadcasted excerpts from the memoirs of one of those siblings – Princess Sophie – in which she describes Hitler as a “charming and seemingly modest man”. When she gave birth to her first son with husband Prince Christoph von Hessen, the chief of Hermann Goering’s secret intelligence service, she named him Karl Adolf in honour of the Führer.
The documentary also revealedevealed photos of a 16-year-old Princeince Phphiliphilip attending a Nazi funeral in Darmstdarmstadt,tadt, near Frankfurt (see photo oppositepposite page), after his sister Cecile was killed in an air crash in 1937.. Philipp is dressed sombrely in a dark overcoat, but he’s flanked by grieving relatives,elatives, all clad in their Nazi uniforms.
In an honest and rare interviewiew about his German past for the 2006 book Royals And The Reich, the Duke of Edinburgh admitted that he found Hitler’s attempts to restore Germany’s prestige after World War One as “attractive”, and admitted his German relatives had “inhibitions about the Jews”.
“There was a great improvement in things like trains running on time and building,” said the Prince of Nazi Germany. “There was a sense of hope after the depressing chaos of the Weimar Republic. I can understand people latching on to something or somebody who appeared to be appealing to their patriotism and trying tot get things going. You can understand how attractive it was.”
Philip insisted he was never “conscious of anybody in the family actually expressing anti-semitic views”, but added that there were “inhibitions about the Jews” and ”jealousy of their success”. >
“You can understand how attractive Nazism was.” Prince Philip, excerpt from Royals And The Reich
EVIDENCE# 5: WINDSOR FAMILY TREE HOW GERMAN IS THE QUEEN AND HER FAMILY?
In 1714, the British royal family was faced with a problem. Queen Anne, who famously united the kingdoms of England and Scotland into one sovereign state, died after a year-long illness. That meant her direct Stuart family line had come to a halt. Worse still, all the likely candidates for next monarch among her 50-odd closest suitable relatives were Catholic – which was forbidden by 1701’s Act of Settlement. So instead, the gig was given to a foreigner – George Ludwig, Prince Elector of Hanover: a German through and through.
In that moment, the British royal house name changed from Stuart to Brunswick-lüneburg-hanover. The new German throne-sitters had a good run, lasting until 1837 when Queen Victoria took over the top job. The new monarch followed a strong tradition of English royalty marrying German royalty by wedding (her first cousin) Prince Albert of Saxe-coburg and Gotha, another richly Germanic dynasty – taking his family name, too. And from here, it’s only four generations – Queen Victoria is Queen Elizabeth’s great-great grandmother – until we arrive at the current members of the royal family.
It’s not clear whether the average pre-20th-century Brit knew, or even gave a hoot, that their royals had so much German blood flowing through their veins, but come 1914 things had changed. The English and German royals found themselves on opposing sides in World War One, and suddenly having the family surname SaxeCoburg and Gotha was not a good look for the Palace. In recognition of this delicate situation, reigning monarch George V changed the family name to Windsor, which remains to this day.
It’s worth nothing that of George’s 29 first cousins on his father’s side, 19 were German, the rest halfGerman. A look on his mother’s side reveals that of her 31 first-cousins, six were German and 25 halfGerman. Not a single one was British. George V’s wife Mary was the first royal consort in 400 years
to speak British as a mother tongue.
While it’s clear that the Queen and her family have close blood ties with Germany, historian Dominic Selwood points out in the UK’S Guardian newspaper that Elizabeth II is also descended from a millennia’s worth of different British royal dynasties, too.
“To be honest, if we scrutinise the royal family’s connections with the Fatherland, we should take a long look at our own, too, and acknowledge that this country [the UK] has had the most profound and close genetic and cultural ties with the people of Germany and Scandinavia for over 1,500 years.”
EVIDENCE # 6: THE HESS INCIDENT WAS THERE A ROYAL/NAZI PLOT TO OVERTHROW CHURCHILL?
On the night of May 10, 1941, Germany’s deputy Führer Rudolf Hess entered British airspace over Scotland in a light aircraft piloted by himself, tracked by a pair of RAF Spitfires. At 11:06 pm, Hitler’s right-hand man realised he was low on fuel and took the decision to parachute from his plane. Hess was subsequently captured and held as a prisoner of war at the Tower of London.
The motives for Hess’s daring Scottish mission have been endlessly debated by historians. Some insist he fled Germany without Hitler’s permission to start peace talks. Others claim Hitler actually rubber-stamped the trip, and that Hess’s orders were to secure a military alliance with Britain against Russia.
Authors John Harris and Richard Wilbourn have a more scandalous theory. After studying more than 10,000 documents for their book Rudolf Hess: Treachery And Deception, the pair believe Hess’s mission was part of a coup to topple British PM, Winston Churchill – a mutiny that was organised by Prince George, the Duke of Kent, the younger brother of wartime monarch King George VI.
“The aristocracy had the most to lose from Churchill staying in power. All they knew was that Germany was bombing Britain nightly, softening the country up prior to an invasion, which would surely cost them their wealth, their status and their lives. They werewwer also unhappy that Churchill’s strategy revolved around a US alliance,alllia which many quite correctly saw as the end of the British Empire.em A peace treaty with Germany, a country that had historic tiestiees with the Royal Family, would have seemed like the most sensibleseen option to them. Communism was the real enemy; particularlyppar to those with much to lose. There were many parties involvedinnvo in the plot but our research points time and again too oneo man who was connected to them all: Prince George.”
Thet historians claim that Prince George was in Scotland on the dayd of Hess’s arrival. When the Nazi landed, he’s believed to have immediatelyimmm asked for the Duke of Hamilton, a good friend of the Prince’s.pprin According to Harris and Wilbourn, a 30,000-strong army ofo allieda Poles, who’d fled their homeland and were also based inn Scotland,s had been primed to support the coup.
‘George V’s wife Mary was the first royal consort in 400 years to speak British as a mother tongue.’
AUDIENCE WITH THE FÜHRER After abdicating, the Duke of Windsor (centre) met Hitler in Germany in 1937. The details of their meeting are still unknown.
COVER-UP CLAIMS The Royal Archives are held at Windsor Castle. Historians believe they’re being censored.
NAZI PROCESSION A 16-year-old Prince Philip at a funeral for his sister in 1937, surrounded by senior Nazi officers.
YOUTH MOVEMENT The young prince attended Schule Schloss Salem in Germany, where Hitler Youth policies were implemented.
WIVES OF THE SS Philip’s sisters Magarita (left) and Sophie (right) both eventually married senior Nazi officers.
NAME CHANGERS During WW1, the royal family – pictured here in 1989 – changed its surname from Saxe-coburg and Gotha to Windsor.