Documents found at the end of World War Two revealed how Edward and Mrs Simpson were friends of Hitler and sympathisers of the Nazi regime.
In the 1930s, Edward VIII famously abdicated his throne in favour of marrying the American woman he fell in love with, Wallis Simpson. But what is less commonly known is that during that time, Hitler spent years fostering a friendship with Edward.
At the end of World War Two, many Nazi documents were found in key sites across Germany. One of those documents was full of details about the Nazis’ relationship with the abdicated king and what their intentions were.
The British government was eager to keep the documents hidden from public view, since they did not want anything to undermine the British monarchy. The documents were meant to be destroyed but instead were retained by academics in the United States and released in 1957, 12 years after the end of the war.
When Hitler became the chancellor of Germany in 1933, he immediately tried to create a relationship between the future King Edward VIII and German Princess Friederike. Hitler envisioned days of old when British royalty would only marry German royalty.
To Hitler’s disappointment, Princess Friederike’s parents thought she was too young to be courted, and so he sent a large contingent of German aristocracy to London to monitor royal activity. It soon became clear that Edward had eyes only for Wallis Simpson, and Hitler sent his close confidant and foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, to England to get close to the couple.
Gossipmongers stated that Ribbentrop actually had an affair with Mrs Simpson, but this was never proved, and Hitler was more concerned with ensuring that Edward was an ally to the Nazis. In reality, Edward was supportive of the far-right politics. He had experienced the results of the Bolsheviks taking over Russia, and the death of his godfather, Tsar Nicholas II, at their hands.
Edward believed that Germany would do well with a new, strong leader like Hitler. Economically, Germany had experienced mass unemployment and high inflation, and had come to the brink of civil war. It was thought by many that Hitler could bring stability and wealth back to the country.
Edward’s behaviour was kept under close watch by British intelligence services, as his relationship with the Nazis continued.
Once Britain and its allies had declared war on Germany in 1939, Edward and Mrs Simpson were exiled to Spain and Portugal. Eventually, Churchill ordered them to relocate to the Bahamas, which he hoped would keep Edward out of trouble and away from the Germans. They spent the war there, and then returned to Europe, where they lived for the remainder of their lives in the south of France.