Operation Willi: The Plot to Kidnap the Duke of Windsor, July 1940

Edward VIII abdicates
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The file revealed that such was his disaffection that Churchill, his friend and supporter, had threatened him with court martial unless he obeyed military orders.

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The transcripts reveal that Edward, who felt he had been ostracised and humiliated in the wake of his abdication in , was outspoken in his criticism of Churchill and the war and was convinced that, if he had stayed on the throne, conflict could have been avoided. He was angered at being forced to abdicate the throne in because he wanted to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, left, and was willing to work with Hitler, right.

Only the continued heavy bombing of British cities, he believed, would bring the United Kingdom to the negotiating table. Taken at face value, the Duke was speaking high treason, giving succour to the enemy when Britain faced its darkest hour of the war. He was also a man who fully approved of Hitler and his spurious plans for peace. Such was the dangerous importance of these unguarded private utterances that it gave the Nazi high command complete faith in a sinister plot to entice the Duke and Duchess to stay in Spain, where he would wait for the Germans to invade and conquer his homeland.

The Nazis even had a code name for the plot — Operation Willi — which was the extraordinary climax to a bizarre entanglement between the Duke, the Duchess and Hitler which began shortly after he was elected German Chancellor in Not only did Hitler try to marry Edward, then Prince of Wales, to a young German princess, but he then flooded London with a slew of Nazi supporting aristocrats with orders to find out what their Royal cousins were thinking.

Edward and Wallis welcomed them with open arms. The couple, pictured, married at a private ceremony on June 3, in France and honeymooned in Germany. Edward, right, celebrates his marriage to Wallis Simpson in France in June with a cup of tea. Wallis Simpson came under special scrutiny from both sides.

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Even Hitler was intrigued by her relationship with the pompous but charming Von Ribbentrop, who had singled her out for special attention when he was Nazi ambassador in London in the s. It was said Von Ribbentrop sent Wallis bouquets of flowers, ordered from society florist Constance Spry, to her home. Such was the concern about the proximity of Wallis and her then husband Ernest to the future King that at the height of her clandestine affair with Edward in , Scotland Yard detectives were ordered to watch the couple and delve into their private life. It emerged that not only was Ernest hoping for a high honour when the new King took the throne, but his wife was two-timing him and Edward with a third man, Ford car salesman Guy Trundle.

They considered her a political intriguer — possibly a Nazi spy, but certainly a woman with direct access to Hitler himself. It was not long before worried Establishment figures wondered if Princess Stephanie and Wallis were working hand-in-glove, and Bryanston Court was a nest of espionage and plotting. MRS Simpson had already been described by Palace courtiers as a witch, a vampire and a high-class blackmailer. Soon she was being spoken of as a Nazi spy.

Within weeks of Edward ascending the throne in January , there was considerable concern that the Government red boxes — which to this day are ferried to the Palace containing intelligence reports, policy briefings and important documents needing Royal approval or signature — were being treated in a cavalier manner, their contents accessible to prying eyes.

I think this is unlikely. All the while Hitler was observing developments from afar, sitting in his private cinema watching newsreels of the new young King, Edward VIII, and his American mistress. At least it made a change from his usual diet of Disney cartoons. His calculation that Edward would give him tacit support proved correct.

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For all his scrutiny of the youthful and glamorous new King, Hitler badly misjudged his quarry. He felt Edward was a man of the world, a man of power and ambition. Despite concerns, the Duke of Windsor made trips to the War Office, pictured, during the conflict. So the Fuhrer was astonished when, in December , Edward gave up his empire for Wallis, the twice-divorced American.

OPERATION WILLI The Plot to Kidnap the Duke of Windsor July - BLOCH, MICHAEL

But even after the abdication, the Nazis still kept faith, inviting him to visit the Fatherland in October During the day visit, Germany was bedecked with alternating Union Flags and swastikas, and Wallis accepted curtsies from high and low-born alike. The Nazi leadership was impressed, seeing in the Duke one of their own. Controversially, the former King gave a Nazi salute when he met Hitler and other leaders. After taking tea, they bade each other a fond farewell, never to meet again. This was emphatically not the view of Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother.

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Once war was declared in September and Wallis and Edward paid a short visit to London before being packed off to France, she could barely contain her loathing. I am sure she hates this dear country and therefore she should not be here in wartime. Though he schemed briefly to lead an international peace movement — which many believed would only add succour to the Nazi cause — he expended more effort playing golf and agitating to have his French chef released from Army duty.

The Duke, pictured here making his abdication speech, believed Britain could be bombed to submission. Luce was listening to BBC radio news describing a Luftwaffe fighter attack on coastal towns. The self-absorption of Edward and Wallis meant it was entirely in character that, when the Germans advanced south through France in , he demanded that a Royal Navy ship pick them up from Nice.

The former King was bluntly told to drive to Spain, ostensibly a neutral country, and take his chances. Their four-car convoy included a hired van just for the Royal luggage. They were however motoring into a trap, one partially of their own making.

Michael Bloch

Within days of their arrival in Madrid, German diplomats were working with their Spanish allies to ensure the former King remained in Spain. The couple were offered a small fortune and a palace in Ronda in southern Spain to sit out the war. Edward was so tempted by the offer that he telegraphed Churchill and asked if there was any need for a prompt return to London. Churchill ordered that he be moved to neighbouring Portugal.

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Operation Willi was treated with deadly seriousness by Hitler and Von Ribbentrop, the Fuhrer ordering his top spymaster Walter Schellenberg to travel to Lisbon to entice or if necessary kidnap the Windsors. Their every move, gesture and sentiment was pored over, with German diplomats looking for signs of encouragement. The Duke twice secretly contacted the Nazis via a Spanish diplomat, asking first if they would protect his two rented houses in Paris and Cannes and their contents.

The captured microfilm revealed the potentially explosive negotiations — the Germans agreed to his request.

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He recorded in his diary: "Much gossip about the Prince of Wales' alleged Nazi leanings; he is alleged to have been influenced by Emerald Cunard who is rather eprise with Herr Ribbentrop through Wallis Simpson. The love which had drawn him into that relationship showed, on his side, no sign of diminution. While in Portugal the Federal Bureau of Investigation received information that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were being used by the Nazis to obtain secrets about the Allies. Warfare History Network. But behind this there was another agenda. But it took another 12 years, after years of British delaying tactics, for the file to be published. It emerged that not only was Ernest hoping for a high honour when the new King took the throne, but his wife was two-timing him and Edward with a third man, Ford car salesman Guy Trundle.

To request the handing over of things he could replace or dispense with is not correct. Hitler is a very great man. Basic Survival Tips. You might be thinking: a survival guide for what? Imagine you are out on a hike or adventure in the wilderness and your luck runs out.

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was the German code name for the unsuccessful attempt by the SS to. In this fascinating piece of historical detective work – the result of several years’ research and the interrogation of numerous surviving witnesses – Michael Bloch has penetrated one of the great.

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