In the latest issue:

Short Cuts

Jonathan Parry

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick

SurrogacyTM

Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

Jia Tolentino

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Uncrownable King and QueenChristopher Sykes
Close

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website (www.lrb.co.uk — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.


  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.
Close
The Windsor Story 
by J. Bryan and Charles Murphy.
Granada, 602 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 246 11323 5
Show More
Show More

The Windsor Story, as ‘the greatest love story of the 20th century’ is here conveniently known, is essentially familiar. Whether it is seen as the tale of the fatuous young charmer and the intriguing, ambitious witch, or, as they themselves chose to present it, as the pathetic picture of two orphans of the storm, victimised by the hound Baldwin, the main facts on which it is based are widely known and the subject of little dispute.

The authors, one of whom wrote the Duke’s autobiography and helped the Duchess with hers, can add much detail but little new basic knowledge, even though Freda Dudley Ward has for the first time broken her silence about her 16-year-long friendship with the Duke when he was Prince. The authors seem indifferent to the perils of the libel laws and in consequence write with refreshing if unchivalrous candour, but unfortunately with much literary ignorance. They confuse two very different masters – Lewis Carroll with Edward Lear – and ascribe that ridiculous but famous play What Every Woman Knows to James Bourke!

On the credit side, they show real understanding of the man’s character, especially in his later years, and commendably recognise one of the finest deeds of his life, and one of the worst of his reign. The former concerns his saving of his brother George Kent’s life from disasters arising from drug-taking, the latter his attempted dismissal of Percy Loraine from the Foreign Service. His complaint was that Percy had given him irrefutable but unwelcome advice – always an unforgivable offence in Edward’s eyes. When the facts of the Loraine case were first made public, there ensued a chorus of denunciation, not of Edward, but of Percy, who was said to have invented the story in a drunken fit. (He was not an excessive drinker.) The incident shows how the memory of the magic of the young Prince of Wales’s charm never quite faded.

One would have thought that the events of his reign, his abdication and his disloyal and cowardly conduct in World War Two would have given it its death-blow. Nothing of the sort happened. The late Gordon Childs, who had worked in propaganda in the USA, told me that as a morale-booster, when inspecting factories in the war, the Duke of Windsor was streets ahead of any British or American public figure. If he had made a go of his assignment to the Bahamas, he could have been in a position to exact a rewarding appointment from any post-war British government. Or so it seemed. In fact, he had degenerated hopelessly in ability, judgment and character, from the moment of abdication.

Except in one important respect. He had so often proved himself an inconstant lover and friend that his ministers presumed, with apparent prescience, that he would soon tire of Mrs Simpson and add her to the growing scrapheap of discarded mistresses, friends and favourites. They were totally mistaken. When the love affair had led to the miserable anti-climax of abdication, her devotion to him wavered in later years, but never his to her. In his last year of life, he paid a moving tribute to her to his old American friend David Bruce.

He was a doomed man. In spite of his enormous youthful popularity, he was ill-fitted to be a King or President or Head of State of any kind. His inner confidence was early and fatally corroded by ceaseless bullying from his martinet father, George V, and by a lack of maternal love. Amateur psychology in biography is a prevalent and dangerous fashion which is happily little in evidence in this book. But it is validly used to explain Edward’s constant preference in his love affairs for married women: it was part of his search for a mother. Frances Donaldson made the same point in her masterly biography. Late in the day, he found a mother figure in Mrs Simpson, shortly before his accession.

The authors dispose of the ridiculous myth, still propagated by ignorant publicists, that the King was prevented by his government from marrying the lady because she was an American. The Government, the Church of England and most public opinion objected to the match because at the time Mrs Simpson had two lawful husbands living. The King did not want to see this unwelcome fact, so, true to form, he did not see it. He went recklessly to his perdition.

In estimating her, the authors lay stress on the fact that she was in no sense of obscure origin. She was descended from the Warfields and Montagues of Maryland and Virginia – old families of great social prominence. Circumstances had reduced her to poverty before she married Ernest Simpson – an assimilated Jew, as I learned here much to my surprise. Her acquiring of wealth sharpened her ambition, hitherto rarely visible. When she and Simpson became friends of Edward, her ambition flowered rapidly, and when he fell in love with her it grew apace. The authors leave us in no doubt that she aimed to be Queen and Empress. It is possible and likely that she did have doubts about her acceptability which the King allayed, but no such doubts are recorded. What is quite clear is that she was completely ignorant of the position of the throne in the British Constitution. Unfortunately, he was equally so, and fatally opinionated. He led her to her doom, but not to a rejection of her ambition. It was she, the authors insist, and not the Duke, who was the more insistent and uncompromising on her right to a royal title.

It appears that the British Royal Family behaved unintelligently over the admittedly difficult crisis, and with a needless appearance of meanness towards the fallen King. I used to go along with this usual opinion, but am tempted, after reading this book, to make some revision. She was the lawful wife of a former King of England and she should have been allowed a royal title if he wanted it. But any further concession was likely to encourage her to intrigue, however hopelessly, for his restoration and her elevation. Naturally, she never gave expression to such designs, but that she had them makes her later years coherent.

The book is more valuable as a record of the post-abdication years than of the King’s earlier and largely successful life. For the latter, despite her efforts to play the psychologist, Lady Donaldson is to be preferred. The authors assert, for example, that Stanley Baldwin disliked Edward VIII from the beginning, implying that he was determined from the beginning to be rid of him. They quote no authority in defence of their view. The Prime Minister’s niece Monica Baldwin’s An Unpublished Page of History cannot be reconciled with this theory; nor can her uncle’s letters to her at the time. Her notes show a man anxious to be true to the Prince of Wales as King and distressed at the new King’s preference for Mrs Simpson over his duty. It is possible, of course, that patience-taxing experience of Edward’s untruthfulness, irresponsibility and evasiveness finally led him to change his attitude and to work hard for an abdication. It is noteworthy that Monica Baldwin nowhere figures in this book. What does figure is Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart’s diary, 1915-1938, which is used as a major authority.

Bruce Lockhart was a delightful man and, in certain fields, an interesting writer. As a social historian he is nowhere. He was a social climber who, like many such, had but scanty knowledge of the thing towards which he climbed. At best he is a fairly good guide to the unthinking fashionable gossip of the hour, and it is unwise to follow him in a more serious spirit. He is treated here as the Greville of the period.

But Lockhart is a respectable authority compared with the astrologers to whom the authors appear to give an unquestioning faith. We learn of an Evangeline Adams in the USA who with the aid of constellations plotted out Mrs Simpson’s career in detail before it had happened, and the reader is supposed to be awed when he is told that various commonly made pessimistic guesses about the young Prince of Wales’s future were also made by that prince of charlatans, Cheiro. These absurdities, however, occur in the first part of the book, before Edward had renounced the throne: the real Windsor story comes after the wedding in 1937, and after that the book takes on new life.

As mentioned already, the authors add little in the way of essential facts, but they add much detail hitherto known to few. Many readers will be surprised to learn that there are three versions of how the Duke abandoned his faithful friend Dudley Metcalfe in France in 1940. The two new versions slightly lessen the Duke’s guilt but leave unshaken the fact that he pusillanimously ran away to safety. The authors rightly entitle their record of the Bahamas episode ‘An Uneven Performance’. This post was a dumping-ground for used-up public servants, and to many people the Windsors appeared as an improvement on the usual run of governors. Total success eluded them, thanks to their frequent absences and incurable tactlessness. This was widely known. The authors are more unexpected in their account of the Donahue affair.

This event occurred in the early Fifties. It represented that wavering of the Duchess’s affections for the Duke. James P. Donahue, the principal in the affair, was a weird character of unorthodox tastes with a liking for practical jokes. He arranged for the Duchess to be converted to Roman Catholicism and she went far with the scheme. Why did he do this? Why did she? To annoy Edward? The problem persists. The authors have no explanation.

One other matter calls for explanation, though it is probably inexplicable. When the Duke died in 1972, he was accorded a popular homage as great as though he had been the reigning sovereign to the end – one, moreover, who deserved well of his people. To many of his former subjects, this was most unexpected.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.