A CONSPIRACY OF CROWNS: The True Story of the Duke of Windsor and the Murder of Sir Harry Oakes by Alfred with Mickey Herskowitz de Marigny

A CONSPIRACY OF CROWNS: The True Story of the Duke of Windsor and the Murder of Sir Harry Oakes

Email this review


Now that all the principal players in the sensational 1943 murder of Sir Harry Oakes in Nassau are dead, the man accused of the crime (but eventually acquitted) tells his side of the story. Though many of the facts may be familiar to readers, de Marigny does provide personal insights into what it was like to be framed for a particularly explosive and highly publicized crime. Oakes, a crude, ill-tempered multimillionaire who had settled in the Bahamas to avoid Canadian taxes, was savagely murdered in his bed during the night of July 8, 1943. Someone had shot him four times behind the ear, then set the bed afire in an apparent attempt to conceal the deed. A business associate, Harold Christie, was asleep in the next room (or so he said) and claimed to have heard nothing. It was Christie who discovered the body the next morning. Almost immediately, de Marigny, an international financier and self-confessed ""playboy"" married to Oakes' daughter, was accused of the crime; de Marigny and his lather-in-law were known to have had a falling-out. Others with an interest in the case were the German-sympathizing Duke of Windsor, sent to the Bahamas during WW II to keep him out of reach of the Nazis who might exploit his pro-German stance; sinister Swedish industrialist Axel Wenner-Gren (a friend of the Duke and Duchess); and several promoters intent on developing the Bahamas as a tourist attraction. To further complicate matters, financial and sexual hankypanky was rife on the tropical island. With the writing help of Herskowitz, coauthor with Dan Rather of The Camera Never Blinks, de Marigny traces the twisted skeins of the story adroitly, and his charge that the Duke was involved in the frame-up and subsequent cover-up of the killer's identity is convincing. Also of interest is the author's woeful tale of life after being forced to leave the Bahamas, an incredible trail of arrests, deportations, and pleas for asylum. Engrossing and well-presented, if without major revelations.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1990
Publisher: Crown