|The Duke of Windsor, |
the former Edward VIII
Long-Time Friend Says
Duke of Windsor was
By The Countess of Romanones
[Special to Writers Clearinghouse News Service]
These days following the glamorous international acclaim for William and Kate's wedding in England, now Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, there has emerged again in the press smears and lies about the Duke of Winsdor who for eight months was King of England in 1936.
These writers and journalists tend to be people who never knew neither the Duke of Windsor nor his time. For this reason I encourage you to tell what they know first hand because the Duke and his wife, the former Wallis Simpson, have been people who formed an important part of my life for many years.
Shortly after he was proclaimed King Edward VIII in 1936, he made public that wished to marry, was deeply in love, and convinced that he could not properly take his important position without the woman who loved him. But in those years it was inconceivable that a King of England could marry a woman of a middle class American background and also divorcee. Anyway, the King thought he could convince his subjects that such a marriage was good for the country.
He knew then that I had a lot of popularity among young people and believed that many English people would accept this wedding. In addition, the public knew that his girlfriend, Wallis Simpson, did not require actual treatment and could accept any situation that would make it possible that the King could continue in his post.
But Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, was violently against the wedding, and wanted to get rid of this new King so popular with new ideas. So the King took the desire to marry, against the formalization of the wedding, to Parliament. Baldwin was not happy with the political ideas of the new King and realized that probably would not get the votes needed for re-election at the next election if the young King stood at his post. He forced the King to abdicate to marry. I knew that the King was desperately in love and struggling to meet his and Wallis' desire to marry.
Although the King had a true and deep love for his country, his attempts to resist the attacks of Baldwin finally forced him to leave.
I met the Duke of Windsor ten years later in 1947 in New York during my own honeymoon. Since then, we met several more times in New York, and soon the Duke invited us to spend time at home in Paris. The arrival was the same.
Martin was waiting at the airport and took us in the old Packard of the Duchess' by the usual route across Paris to the rue de Champs de'Entrainment in the Bois de Boulogne. When Martin arrived at the house, the car stopped and he rang the bell, and moments later a huge iron gate opened and the car ran passed a row of plane trees and some clumps of dahlias that the Duke had planted up to a classic small palace from the late 19th century that the Duke had rented the Paris government.
So, for over thirty years I had come to know them well. Always struck us how much they worried about spending money. During one of our visits Luis, my husband, told the Duke we were building a house on the beach in Marbella -- a site that had a lovely view of the coast of Morocco and Gibraltar. Then the Duke inquired,
"Luis, do you mind telling me how much ground there is and about your spending in the construction of the house. In this so sad climate in Paris, the Duchess would find it suitable a home for certain periods where there is sun. Bu I do not know if we could afford it."
The Duke bought the land next to ours Ignacio Coca, but took so long to raise money for the construction of the house that he died without having done so three years later. The Windsors did not have unlimited amounts of money, but are now accused of spending British taxpayer money on frivolities.
Even the Duchess is said to have spent much on her wardrobe. I knew that the major fashion houses of Paris competed to offer her free couture; she spent little money on their clothes, mainly because since her marriage to the Duke, she had been elected each year as the world's smartest woman in the international charts, which served as advertising for the any clothing she wore.
As the couple for years was most popular and photographed the world, some journalists were also using his travels to criticize as another frivolous spending. The truth was that they were always guests of friends in Palm Beach and New York and, everywhere you traveled, they were invited.
But the most serious allegation and utterly false, was and still is to declare that the Duke as being pro-Nazi. This was mainly based on a photo of Hitler saluting the Chancellor's residence in Alpine their honeymoon in 1937. After the wedding, when they began their honeymoon, between different countries toured, they visited Germany.
The Duke had told me several times that German was the only foreign language that he and his brothers knew. From kids they were watched over by a German governess, and also his grandfather was German. The Duke could not avoid visiting the Chancellor of Germany. The photo with Hitler was nothing more than a courtesy, and three years later when World War II broke out it served some journalists to accuse him of being pro-Nazi.
Inside the file from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs there is evidence of his anti-Hitlerism -- Schellenberg's official letters of the Nazi government to the Spanish government for help to catch the Duke to take him to Germany. Even Eduardo Rojas, the Montarco Count, in 1940, Serrano's assistant minister and the Minister personally have told me many years later and a British writer of the Duke's persecution in Spain. Monitoring of the Duke by the Germans was planned for months in Spain and Portugal. Among the plans of the Germans was an attempt to convince the Count of Montarco to invite the Duke to go hunting on his farm near the border with Portugal and capture him. After being appointed the Governor-General of The Bahamas, by Winston Churchill, the Duke saved his life at the last minute of the German agents who were pursuing him in Portugal.
After their marriage, the Duke wanted to work and tried to get permission from his brother. King George V had forbidden him to fight in the war as a soldier against the Germans, as the Duke had asked. I think his brother would not allow him to accept the many jobs that provided good pay. His brother considered it unseemly for a former King of England to work for any company or individual.
But all nice and important and compensation that I have known of the life of former King Edward VIII was that he enjoyed a happy marriage and true and intense love until the day he died. Few couples have known a life together with such a love that seemed to increase with time. They shared a great sense of humour and always had fun together.
I remember so many tests over the years when I visited at his home in Paris. As an example, I mention one night when Luis and I returned late from a party, heard talk and laughter through the wall of our bedroom which was just above that of the Duchess. The next morning when the Duchess and I had lunch together -- the Duke and Luis were out playing golf, I said I knew she had gone to sleep very late the night before because I had heard the noise of the radio in their room at two in the morning.
She laughed, "No, Aline, it was not the radio. David comes to my room every night and we had fun talking until the wee hours. He is the most wonderful man I have ever met in my life; we have fun together and alone. You know how smart he is and how he makes me laugh."
It was true -- also the Duke often told me, "My wife is the most wonderful woman in the world."
The Duchess was no beauty, but she captivated the ex-King Edward VIII of England, and the two enjoyed a wonderful love.
The Dukes of Windsor were a couple in love until the end of his days, and they never stopped feeling, too, a love for their nation which for many years he served as the Prince of Wales. He was the most popular and beloved Prince in the history of the United Kingdom, and later King for eight months.
(Aline, The Countess of Romanones, was born in 1923 in New York. She was born was a fashion model, a World War II spy, and the wife of the Count of Romanones of Spain).