Nazism and the Windsors: A Love Affair

Prince Charles has been known to describe Vladimir Putin, the elected Russian president, as ‘Hitler’. You’d have thought that would endear him to Putin, if anything. If there’s one thing the Royal family are good at (and let’s be honest, there isn’t much else), it’s loving Nazism.

Queen Elizabeth was taught to Nazi salute by her family as a child. The Queen Mother was a big fan of Adolf Hitler and supported what is known as ‘appeasement’ (‘collaboration’ would be a more accurate term). She later admitted she had ‘reservations about the Jews’ and lent her support to the white supremacist regimes in Rhodesia and South Africa. One journalist who knew her, Paul Callan, put it rather euphemistically; ‘she is not fond of black folk’, while the royal diarist, Sir Roy Strong, admitted that he hid the Queen Mother’s racism because it was ‘too awful’: one time during a lunch, he related, she ‘leant over me and said ‘beware the blackamoors’. Journalist Johann Hari states that ‘she believed Britain’s class system reflected a natural hierarchy, and the people below her creamy, upper tier were inferior’. Among the politicians she most admired were PW Botha (leader of apartheid South Africa who refused to release Mandela) and Margaret Thatcher, who was apparently toasted by the whole family at the supposedly apolitical Royal dinner table.

Her husband, King George VI, beatified in the film The King’s Speech, also held sympathies for the Nazis – one German diplomat reported that George VI ‘will not forget the attitude of the German press. If he remains on the throne, the German attitude will be useful since he has great sympathies for the Third Reich’. One of George’s cousins, the Duke of Coburg, was on intimate terms with the couple and stayed as their guest at Sandringham in 1933 – he was a Brownshirt and Obergruppenfuhrer in the Nazi Party. He had helped Hitler into power and been involved with the movement since the early 1920s. He was later hosted by the King’s mother, Mary, in 1937.

Coburg played an instrumental role in the so-called appeasement of Hitler in the late ‘30s, in reality Britain gave the Nazis the green light to tear up half of Eastern Europe – annexing Austria, marching into Czechoslovakia – and Coburg liaised with King George VI himself several times to lobby for British approval of Nazi land grabs. King George was pleased with the settlements that Neville Chamberlain made with Hitler because they threatened the Soviets. The King’s mother also fully supported these policies and would brook no criticism of the Munich agreement in 1938. The Royals continued to hold hopes of alliance with Nazi Germany until 1940, but then the Blitz happened and there was no going back. 

Then there’s the King’s brother, Edward, whom he had taken the Crown from. Edward’s Nazism is much more well-known; he even gave a Nazi salute in public during his 1937 visit to Germany. Edward said in 1933 ‘it is the only thing to do. We will have to come to it, as we are in great danger from Communists, too’. When Edward took the throne in 1936 diplomats at the German embassy in London cabled Hitler immediately with the news that the King wanted an alliance with the Nazis. The reign lasted less than a year before Edward abdicated and married the American, Wallis Simpson. The couple hurried to visit Germany in 1937 as Duke and Duchess of Windsor, where they met Hitler and Rudolf Hess and even visited a concentration camp.

FBI files that were kept closed for decades in order not to upset the sensitivities of the British Royals show that the Duchess of Windsor (Wallis Simpson) was in regular contact with Ribbentrop, the Nazi foreign minister, and was leaking secrets to him. There is also the possibility that Edward VIII was in treasonous talks with Nazis in 1940, prepared to return to Britain as a leader should it be defeated by the Nazis. Edward remained a Nazi-sympathiser even after the war, as Royal biographer Andrew Morton has stated ‘even after the war he thought Hitler was a good fellow and that he’d done a good job in Germany, and he was also anti-Semitic, before, during and after the war’.

With her Nazi parents, Nazi uncle and auntie, and Nazi cousins as role models, it’s not much surprise that Elizabeth got herself a Nazi husband: Philip. Three of Philip’s sisters married high-ranking Nazis. Philip can be seen in the funeral cortege for his older sister Cecile, walking alongside numerous mourners in full Nazi uniform, Brownshirts and SS regalia, with many people in the crowds sieg-heiling. Another of his sister’s had dinner with Hitler at the wedding of Hermann Goering.

Prince Philip Darmstadt 1937

His sister Sophie considered Hitler a ‘charming and seemingly modest man’. Her husband was chief of Goering’s secret intelligence service. They gave their first son the middle name Adolf in honour of Hitler. She said she was impressed by Hitler’s ‘plans to change and improve the situation in Germany’.

Echoing this in 2006, Philip said that his family found Hitler’s early attempts to restore Germany’s power and prestige ‘attractive’, ‘there was a great improvement in things like trains running on time and building’, he elaborated, ‘there was a sense of hope … you can understand how attractive it was’. Well, maybe *you* can, Philip. The excuse that people didn’t know about Hitler’s anti-semitism or racism till much later just doesn’t cut it. In fact, it’s an outright fabrication. It would be like Britain First one day getting to power and setting up concentration camps for Muslims, and saying that their early supporters didn’t know how extreme they turned out to be. Absurd.

Philip used the typical weasel words, probably coached by the Royal legal team, that he was not ‘conscious’ of any anti-semitism in the family. Dude – when you were attending that Nazi funeral a national boycott of Jewish businesses had been in place 4 years already, and the Nuremburg Laws, which stripped Jewish Germans of their citizenship and forbade them to marry ‘true Germans’ (defined by Nazi race science) had been in effect for 2 years. You’ve got 3 high-ranking Nazis as brothers-in-law – pretty sure you were highly ‘conscious’ of anti-semitism in the family. The most he would admit was that there were ‘inhibitions about the Jews’ and ‘jealousy of their success’.

The apples have not fallen far from the tree. Nazi grandfather, grandmother who was taught Nazi salutes as a child, a great-great uncle who tried to collaborate with Hitler, and heritage of leadership in colonial slavery, landgrabbing and racist genocide – it’s no surprise when both Princes Harry and William attend a ‘native and colonial theme’ fancy dress party. The fact that Harry dressed in a Nazi uniform is just the cherry on the cake. Both brothers participated in the mockery of ‘colonials’ (by treating them as humorous theme for an aristocratic knees-up), one was simply more crass and openly racist than the other. Now Harry has married a woman of colour who is subjected to openly racist contempt from the wife of the Queen’s cousin, Princess Michael of Kent (whose own father was an SS officer).

Of course, there’s a problem with the very premise of this article: the need to expose Nazi connections to the Royals to show their worldview. The tail is wagging the dog here. It’s the British monarchy which played a pivotal role in Transatlantic slavery, who presided over colonies where genocide was committed, the likes of which the Nazis dreamed of emulating. Nazi eugenics and concentration camps were modelled on Britain’s prior example. But there we are. The Nazis are readily understood as evil by the British public, and so we can use them to expose the evil in our own backyard: the Windsors and more broadly, the British ruling class.

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