Buchanan Street Bus Station on Saturday. I bought the “Scottish Sun”. Seven full pages …exclusive. A video exists of Mrs Windsor performing a Nazi salute. Well, it would be a constitutional crisis if “The Queen” performed a Nazi Salute in Buckingham Palace last week. Unfortunately for Republicans like myself, the footage is over eighty years old. Mrs Windsor was a seven year old girl. She was in the company of her mammy, wee sister and her uncle….Uncle David, later “Edward VIII”, later Duke of Windsor. He was a complete and utter bounder…a cad of the worst sort, as Bertie Wooster might have put it.
I wonder if her Daddy, Bertie, later “George VI” took the home movie.
You either like the institution of Monarchy or you dont. I dont. You either like the “Royal Family” or you dont. I dont. You either like the “United Kingdom” or you dont. I dont.
This is a unique aspect of the “United Kingdom”. As a nation, it is locked into Monarchy. And Monarchy is linked into a single, extended family.
Most enlightened democrats …including Englishmen annd English women would regard Monarchy as an outdated and undemocratic system of governance. Worse than a single person as Monarch, there is the theological nonsense that the “Queen” is Supreme Head of the Church of England and the bizarre nonsense of Dukes, Earls, Viscounts, Lords, Knights, which makes up English aristocracy.
For monarchists, the stability of the “kingdom” is held together by the personal charm and sense of duty of the long-serving Elizabeth II…sixty odd years on the throne…and the grooming of William, Kate and their babies, George and Charlotte to be fairy tale distractions in the middle of the 21st century. Charles and Camilla dont really pass muster in the “charm and service” category. Nor are they a fairy tale distraction.
Just like the fate of French King Louis XVI was sealed when he walked up to the guillotine, so Charles’ fate was sealed during the sham marriage to Lady Diana.
The courtiers have been busy re-inventing the Monarchy and the “Royals”. The unlovely Anne, Randy Andy and the really useless (sic) Edward have been air-brushed out of the narrative.
But as monarchists shamelessly use a family (blessed by GOD) to bolster Monarchy and a wider conservative agenda, they denounce liberals for using their distaste for Monarchy by attacking an “ordinary family”.
If it is wrong for liberals to use the family as a weapon…it is equally wrong for monarchists to use the family as a weapon.
Which brings us to the Nazi Salute. Monarchists become defensive. Republicans see an opportunity.
The German ancestry of the English Royals is, in this case largely a red herring…more so in 2015 than in 1933, when the footage was shot. The First World War and the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm had largely severed dynastic ties. Likewise the murder of the Russian Czar. Europe was a very different place in 1933.
So I dont see any great Germanic connexion. But bachelor Uncle David playing around with his neices seems a more likely context. Surely most Norn Iron parents will be familiar with their seven year old children being influenced by a lovable but politically incorrect uncle.
Surely Protestant parents sending their children to an integrated school in Bangor wince when the East Belfast uncle shows up to a summer BBQ and teaches the children how to sing “The Sash” and prance about like an Orange man. Likewise, Alliance voting Catholics in Carrickfergus might wince when the uncle from Crossmaglen shows up and teaches the children the words of “Sean South from Garryown”
No Big Deal. Uncles go home to East Belfast and Crossmaglen and parents duly lecture the kids “dont sing that song at school” and “dont say that at the pony club”. Likewise Uncle David in 1933. He goes home to Fort Belvedere and Bertie and Elizabeth lecture Lilibeth and Margaret Rose “dont do that Nazi salute in front of the servants”.
This context does not entirely let the the Old Queen Mum off the hook. She would later be able “to look the East End in the face” when Buckingham Palace was bombed in WW2 and become Britain’s favourite granny….while being a gin-soaked old racist. She was cheerily joining in the Nazi Salute in 1933.
But this footage was shot in a “country house” and in between shooting grouse and taking cocaine at parties, many in the English aristocracy were also practising the Nazi Salute and wangling invitations to meet with Herr Hitler in Berlin and Munich. Meeting Hitler was as much part of the 1930s “Season” as Royal Ascot, the Henley Regatta and the Lords Test Match.
Indeed admiration for Hitler was not confined to the Upper Class. Bands of black-shirted thugs roamed around the East End involved in street-fighting with Jewish people. Maybe there is a narrative that English people in the early 1930s were not aware of how bad Hitler would become. There was a growing awareness thru the Decade but by 1938, there can be no excuse for the England football team produing a Nazi Salute before an international match against Germany in Berlin.
What is clear is that by 3rd September 1939, English men from the aristocracy and working class…many who had previously expressed pro-Nazi sentiment…signed up to fight Hitler, Germany and the Nazi Cause. Did they abandon anti-semitism? That is harder to say.
This past weekend, royalists have rushed to point out that the young “Princess Elizabeth” herself signed up to drive and repair British Army trucks. She fought the Nazis.
But where does that leave Uncle David? A cad and bounder from a story by P G Wodehouse? Or Upper Class Twit of the Year from a Monty Python sketch?
More likely a man …born into privelege, humoured by sychophants and with a sense of Entitlement, made worse by having to abdicate the throne when he wanted to marry an American divorcee.
Wallis Simpson is cast as the villain of the Drama. Not content to be a Royal Mistress, she wanted to be Queen. It was never likely to happen. The lifestyle that she and David Windsor lived was too well known to Intelligence Services and Media to allow him ever to be on an English throne and be “Supreme Governor of the Church of England”.
Royalty is a Soap Opera. Parts are played by Actors and Actresses.
Just like actor, William Roache is a prominent member of the Conservative Party in Cheshire….it is too easy to confuse him with Ken Barlow, the character he has played for fifty five years in Coronation Street. “Ken”, a socialist, even spent a week in prison in the early 1960s for a protest against nuclear disarmament.
Elizabeth Windsor, the actress is no different. Privately educated multi -millionaire with an interest in Horse Reacing and friend to her tweedy aristocratic cousinage, she plays the part of the politically neutral Queen of England. She has played the part for nearly a decade longer than William Roache has played his part in Coronation Street.
There is of course an “Heir and Spare” aspect to the 1933 footage. The rules for the Heir and Spare are different.
Thus Lilibeth the Princess in 1933 was the heir (thru her father Bertie, heir to unmarried David). Certainly since the abdication in 1936 to her coronation in 1953, she was the chosen one. Her sister Margaret was therefore at liberty to be a fixture in London’s High Society and have affairs notably with Group Captain Peter Townsend…until she married Anthony Armstrong-Jones and …..divorce and her decline into alcohol and drug abuse and boorishness.
Likewise Charles could de-flower English Roses in High Society …and the newspapers were suitably discrete. All under the tutoring of an Australian “lady” called Kanga.Of course he ended up marrying the only virgin left in the English aristocracy. In many ways different from Wallis Simpson….Diana also did not know or care about the rules.
The Spare to Charles was “Prince” Andrew, who not actually being Heir was legitimate tabloid interest. His affairs, notably with Koo Stark, an actress and his marriage to Fergie all contributed to the Randy Andy image. But as he lost his youth and descended into boorish, golf club, royal entitlement, the British Nation fell out of love with him.
Likewise William and Harry. Harry, born to be the Spare can do the things that William cant do….at least publicly. Thus a brief scandal at a Las Vegas orgy is explained as a war hero letting off some steam. He is 30 years old. It is behaviour which will be tolerated until he settles down with a nice girl. Of course, just like Uncle Andy, such behaviour might not look so good when the Ginger Prince is in his fifties.
The Heir and Spare issue brings me back to Uncle David and Bertie. Heir and Spare. Yet somehow, they were miscast in the Royal Soap Opera. David, Man-About-Town-And-Orgy was the Heir and yet he behaved like the Spare. Dull, family man, Bertie was the Spare and yet he behaved like the Heir.
Of course the vitriol reserved for David Windsor is not just about his depraved lifestyle, his choice of Mistress/Queen or choosing her above his Duty to the Nation. The admiration for Hitler was real enough and in WW2 , the former King was given a minor role as Governor of Bermuda, effectively exile on a remote island. Suspicions remain that he would have willingly returned as a “puppet King” in the event of a Nazi victory. I think its an accurate assessment but David would have said it was for the good of a defeated nation.
aThe Press Office at Buckingham Palace are of course outraged that this footage has emerged. “Her Majesty is Furious” is the headline. The Daily Mail (Rothermere family supported the Nazis) claims that Lilibeth was actually mocking the Nazis in the footage. That seems unlikely.
But surely this is a product of the confusion of a Family AND a Nation. A private family fun moment in the 1933 sunshine should probably stay “private” ….except of course where the “family” is the hereditary “Head of State”. The moment when the Monarchy …Lilibeth and Margaret Rose are mere children….but their mother and uncle are adults….perform a Nazi salute IS of National Importance. It deserves to be seen by the British Public and while Rupert Murdoch will be vilified for its publication and no doubt has an agenda, no democrat should really be outraged at ridicule being heaped on an Institution, which is at best, outdated and at worst, sinister.
Of course, the “Royal Family” is no stranger to the Nazi Party. Lest we forget, the kilted Duke of Edinburgh is a charachter played by a Greek actor, whose stage-name is Philip Mountbatten. Lest we forget Philip is of German heritage and had two brothers in law in the German Army in WW2. Nor should we forget Charles Edward (died 1954) who attended his cousin George’s coronation in 1937. Charles was German and a member of the Nazi Party.
But can a thorough review of the links between the British Monarchy and Nazi Germany ever take place?
Yes. It is surely all in the Archives…just like this previously unseen footage from 1933. Are the British people entitled to see the photographs and read the correspondence? Ah…..see thats a problem. Because that would be an intrusion into the private life of an “ordinary” family.
As always, Monarchists want it both ways.