Photographs of the Queen’s uncle Edward VIII giving Nazi salutes on a visit to Germany two years before the outbreak of war have emerged after being put up for auction.
The then Duke of Windsor, who had abdicated the previous year, is pictured making the distinctive “Heil Hitler” gesture on an unofficial visit to Germany in 1937.
He is surrounded by senior Nazis in uniform, some wearing swastika armbands, on a visit to the Friedrich Heinrich colliery in the Lower Rhine area.
His guide during the visit was Robert Ley, the Nazi head of the German Labour Front, who later committed suicide while awaiting trial at Nuremberg for war crimes.
Among the other senior Nazis who accompanied him were Joachim von Ribbentrop, the German foreign minister; Fritz Wiedemann, Hitler’s personal adjutant; Arthur Goerlitzer, the deputy political leader of Berlin and Walter Hewel, Hitler’s liaison to Ribbentrop.
The British government representative was James Harrison, third secretary at the British Embassy.
Although Edward VIII’s admiration for Hitler has always been well known – he once met the Fuhrer with his wife Wallis Simpson – the timing of the photographs’ release could not have been worse for the Royal family.
The portfolio has been held by a private collector for the last 30 years.
Edward’s visit to Germany in October 1937 had ostensibly been to learn about factories and working conditions, but he attended a political rally flanked by SS guards and met Hitler at his Alpine retreat at Berchtesgaden.
An account of the conversation between the Fuhrer and Edward was captured by the Allies, but it has never been released by the National Archives.
Edward spoke in German to his hosts, and gave a speech declaring the Nazi economic model to be “a miracle”, adding: “One can only begin to understand it when one realises that behind it all is one man and one will.”
Source: The Telegraph