While living out their days in exile, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor forged ties with Nazi Germany as World War II approached.
Edward, who was proud of his German heritage, even went so far as to provide Nazi leader Adolf Hitler with crucial intelligence on Britain and France during the war.
The former king’s Nazi past has stunned pundits, who have appeared in new Channel 4 documentary ‘Edward VIII: Britain’s Traitor King’.
Historian Yasmin Khan is among those surprised by the Duke’s betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who served Britain in World War II.
She said: “They included many different nationalities across the Empire. They weren’t conscripts. They had come voluntarily.
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“If they had known that a member of the royal family had helped provide information which led to this rout, in Dunkirk, which led to this evacuation, it would have been absolutely infuriating.
Dr Andrew Lownie, whose book offers crucial documentary research and bears the same name, revealed how the trail of information passed from the ex-king to Hitler.
Speaking on the show, he said: “There is an intermediary who feeds information to the Germans, who was part of the Duke of Windsor’s entourage.
“It is almost certainly Charles Bedaux. He is, of course, the man who lent them a castle for their wedding.
“He saw them almost every night. He travels between Paris and The Hague where he has his business interests.
He added: “You can draw a direct correlation between the trail of this information and the invasion of France and the Low Countries, the defeat of the British Expeditionary Force and its retreat to Dunkirk.”
The seriousness of the Duke’s betrayal was underscored in stark terms by author AN Wilson, who also appeared in the documentary.
He said: “The Duke of Windsor has become a socialite again in Paris and has given up all thought of being a soldier.”
He continued: “His careless speech undoubtedly cost lives later on.”
In another section, Mr Wilson added: ‘There were 300,000 men, many of whom never came back, of course, because they were killed.’
‘Edward VIII: Britain’s Traitor King’ is available on All 4.
‘Traitor King: The Scandalous Exile of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’ was written by Andrew Lownie and published by Blink Publishing in 2021. It is available here. An updated version has just been released.