THE DUKE OF WINDSOR'S WAR: The Windsors in the Bahamas, 1940-1945 by Michael Bloch

THE DUKE OF WINDSOR'S WAR: The Windsors in the Bahamas, 1940-1945

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A plethora of charges have been leveled against the Windsors in wartime--from the long-standing suspicion of the Duke's German connections to the widespread impression that he and the Duchess lived it up during his five-year Governorship of the Bahamas. In The King Over the Water (1981), Michael Pye added a flimsy allegation of currency hanky-panky--though Pye, for all his sensationalism, had a serious, interesting theme (kingship in a colonial outpost). Bloch is an associate of French attorney Suzanne Blum, de facto guardian of the ailing, secluded Duchess; he has had use of the Windsor papers; he intends, unsurprisingly, to clear their name. And in this, despite his effusiveness about the semi-royal pair, he is not altogether unsuccessful. The joint effect of his and Pye's books, for one thing, is to focus attention on the Duke's problems in governing the Bahamas (an entrenched, reactionary oligarchy; an underpaid, underemployed black populace), and away from the front-page scandals--Nazi-linked Swedish industrialist Wenner-Gren's banishment, the unsolved murder of Sir Harry Oakes--which clouded the Duke's tenure, as well as from the Duke's and Duchess's wardrobes. More importantly, Bloch demonstrates the petty lengths to which ""Official England"" went to prevent the Duke from attracting favorable publicity--whether by visiting British troops in France, overshadowing his younger brother in Lisbon, or having lunch with FDR--and thus reviving his popularity. And though Bloch may overstate the ghastliness of the Windsors' dispatch to the Bahamas (""the worst post in the British Empire""), and also exaggerate the good he might have done elsewhere (or afterward), it's hard to avoid the conclusion that ""Official England"" didn't want him to shine abroad, any more than they wanted him to return home. Bloch, who is preparing a second book on the Windsors' shadowy stay in Spain and Portugal (the Nazi recruitment/kidnapping plot), also takes issue with detractors on other, lesser points--sometimes directly implicating a hostile press. In sum, Bloch's partisanship is not unavailing' he may never convince the world that the Windsors were glorious beings, but he does make the anti-Windsors (including the Royal Family) look like pipsqueaks.

Pub Date: Feb. 18th, 1982
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan