TRAITOR KING; THE SCANDALOUS EXILE OF THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF WINDSOR by ANDREW LOWNIE

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TRAITOR KING; THE SCANDALOUS EXILE OF THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF WINDSOR by ANDREW LOWNIE

While there is understandable interest in the fame and foibles of the self-exiled Meghan and Harry couple, nothing they have done comes even close to the appalling former Edward VIII (who had been the British monarch for less a year when he abdicated, known to most as David) and Wallis Simpson, his new wife.

As the Duke of Windsor, he chose her over royal duties but – as is clear in this scrupulously researched biography of the disgraceful self-entitled, demanding, petulant and Nazi-sympathising couple – they still expected, demanded even, all the privileges of the monarchy.

Most British people were glad to see them go into exile because neither were especially popular. But worse would be revealed in messages where the Duke suggested to Hitler's sidekicks that if Britain were to be ruthlessly bombed then it would capitulate and he could be installed as a kind of king-cum-president who would make a concord with the German Nazi party.

Yes, he suggested bombing his own country . . . although he was always a German by lineage and spoke the language fluently. Sometimes at great length at dinner parties where no one else spoke German.

He was that kind of crazy.

In exile during the war the couple – she brittle and bossy, he weak and superior – moved between borrowed stately homes in Europe until Churchill (who was one of the Duke's few supporters) found a role for him as the governor of the Bahamas.

No sooner had they arrived at their newly renovated mansion than they demanded even more work be done on the seven bedroom, six bathroom and 24 other rooms Government House and decamped to a nearby villa. The Duke suggested because it was so hot he should be able to go to his ranch in Canada.

He demanded renovations to the tune of half a million dollars . . . this as Britain was being bombed into submission by the Luftwaffe: “May it not be said that is a sum [of that amount] can be spared from Crown Funds it might have been used to buy a fighter?” wrote Lord Lloyd.

And so their lives played out with a squadron of servants, dinner parties and golf, tedium and moving from one luxury hotel to another, borrowing yet another mansion from friends, constant whinging and all the while she – and sometimes he – were in the close company of known Nazi spies and informers whom they fed information to.

A more selfish and self-serving couple can hardly be imagined.

When they went to the United States for a short trip they took 27 bags of luggage, when going to Britain for a short visit their luggage required three army lorries to transport it.

In Britain a cat burglar stole some of her jewelry which was reported to be valued at around $500,000 (although there were suggestions they overstated the value and number of items stolen).

“The robbery received wide publicity and did not endear the Windsors to a Britain living with rationing.”

Sometimes if their hosts threw a dinner party in their honour they wouldn't turn up, and after the war the Duke -- now rudderless and with nothing to do -- would drink increasingly.

Wallis hardened and took a lover (he, a gay man, said “it was like going to be with a very old sailor”), they insisted on royal protocols being observed when they were around, the Duke would talk and talk but say nothing memorable (except anti-Semitic comments) and . . .

So their self-pitying lives of luxury, shady financial dealings, gossip and golf played on and on.

The rapprochement with the royal family which rejected them – they loathed Wallis, never forgave him for turning his back on the job and his country – never came.

They were a loathsome couple who underpaid their servants who they treated shamefully, didn't pay their bills or his gambling losses, betrayed friends of long-standing and were obsessed with money, status and the rejection that they had brought upon themselves.

Meghan and Harry have some considerable way to go to top this truly awful couple.



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