Posted Friday, April 5, 2002

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 In a letter to a friend in Italy, an intercept of which I found in Italian military Intelligence archives, written a day or two after the December 1936 abdication, King Edward VIII referred cruelly to his luckless brother George as Stuttering Bertie. -- David Irving





April 5, 2002 (Friday)

I SPEND all morning slumped in front of a sofa, wallowing in memories of the last century as I watch on television the ceremonial procession carrying the Queen Mother's coffin from Clarence House, her Royal standard being lowered as it leaves the gates, to its lying-in-state beneath the splendid hammer-beam oaken roof at the thousand year old Westminster Hall.

I believe I saw her only once, as a boy scout Cub, at a jamboree somewhere in east Anglia. I think it must have been just before the war ended, or just after. I was too young to take it all in, younger than Jessica is now; we all hid behind a hummock until a signal was given when we had to rush forward and greet Her Majesty. It was all a very jolly occasion, and that is the way she is now remembered.

The broadcast media have now just begun discreetly revealing the shadow side of her late husband King George VI, who died exactly fifty years ahead of her. I was shocked to hear his guttural German accent when he broadcast. Last night they showed a newsreel clip, "suppressed at the time," showing him stuttering himself into total silence, as his brain failed to give the necessary muscle impulses to the vocal chords.

In a letter to a friend in Italy, an intercept of which I found in Italian military Intelligence archives, written a day or two after the December 1936 abdication, King Edward VIII referred cruelly to his luckless brother George as "Stuttering Bertie" (Bertie being the family name for him.).

Now that Elisabeth is gone, we may now see what the public archives have to say about that disgraceful episode -- how the foreign office and Stanley Baldwin hounded Edward out of office in 1936, primarily because of his admiration for the achievements of Hitler's Germany.

Queen Mum wanted peace with Hitler -- The Independent on Sunday, March 5, 2000

The footnote, on page 853 of Churchill’s War, vol. ii, actually reads: "'The papers of Sir Walter Monckton in the Bodleian Library contain as items 23 and 24 correspondence with Queen Elizabeth revealing her desire to accept Hitler's 1940 peace offer; access to these items was restricted until Feb 2000." -- See Mr Irving's Reader's Letter to The Spectator commenting on their review article on Churchill's War, vol.ii.

The files of her principal legal adviser, Walter Monckton, are housed in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University: I consulted them there, and found that one file is resolutely closed -- his wartime correspondence with Queen Elisabeth. Leaked sources reveal that the file is closed because it reveals that (like her husband King George in 1940-41) she despised Winston Churchill, whom she viewed as the nemesis of her Empire; and that she had strongly favoured accepting the German peace offer when it came in 1940.

How improper of both of them! The evidence of the king's feelings is in the papers of Harry Hopkins, Mackenzie King and others; the officially published versions of the documents have however been discreetly edited! (The passages are in my Churchill's War, vol. I). I wonder if that Monckton file will now be opened, or will it contain the kind of mysterious blank page inserts and pagination gaps with which the more alert Real Historians of WWII are infuriatingly familiar.


I DECIDE to give the BBC another chance, given its lapse of taste on the announcement of her death a week ago -- their news-reader Peter Sissons was asked to don a necktie in the BBC's new standard livery of burgundy, rather than the black tie which decency dictated.

But today's commentator David Dimbleby is only an inarticulate, though well-spoken, shadow of his father Richard: modern public figures (and BBC commentators consider themselves as such) have lost the art of rhetoric; their vocabulary has shrunk to the width of a staircase in some wretched mews flat in Belgravia.

Worse, they feel they must fill every available silent space, oblivious of what every graphic designer knows -- that the white space on a page is often more important than the words it surrounds. Once, this morning, during a particularly poignant picture, he felt obliged to say: "And now silence reigns." Yes, David, it did until you said that.

Not that Richard Dimbleby was above the occasional lapse. I recall his words as he waited for Princess Margaret to emerge from Westminster Abbey after her first (as it proved, disastrous) marriage: "And there," intoned Richard, "waiting outside the great Abbey door, is the state coach which is soon to be filled by the figure of Princess Margaret."

It would take a stern eye not to yield the occasional tear at the solemn spectacle of the thousands of young marching servicemen, arms reversed, and the gun carriage, and the sparkling Koh-i-Noor diamond on Elizabeth's crown, and the dissonant clash of the marching bands as each new ones heaves into view, and the wonderful drill of the naval marching detachment, although their hatbands showed them mostly to be from the London shore establishments.

Seeing the Scots Guards in their black bearskins and scarlet tunics recalls to me the day over forty years ago when I visited "Butcher" Harris, Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Arthur Harris, at his home in Goring: he proudly showed off to me, in a glass case the length of a wall, his collection of lead soldiers portraying the Queen's entire Coronation procession. Now it is as though those lead soldiers have come to life and are slow-marching down the Mall, to the thump and blare of military funeral music.

Seeing these Royal Navy officers marching with drawn swords suddenly brings back to me a photo that hung during World War II on my bedroom wall -- the plaster was cracked from top to bottom by a V-1 flying-bomb that had hit a mile away: it was a black-and-white photo of a naval parade at "Pompey" -- Portsmouth to you and me -- with a bearded naval officer marching proudly with drawn sword a few paces ahead of King George VI; the officer was my father, whom I rarely saw -- he was convoying supplies to the Russians and haranguing factory workers in the Midlands, at a time when certain others were frantically burying their fortunes in Swiss bank deposits, or fighting the soldiers of the British Mandate in Palestine.

The photo, bound between two sheets of glass with emerald-green passe-partout, has long vanished except from my memory. And now we are watching the solemn last journey of that feckless monarch's queen.


A FEW things do catch my attention about today's crowds. As a court-certified committed racist (i.e., native-born Englishman), I notice that the crowds captured by the television cameras, standing ten or twenty deep in places, are all White (as are, so far as I can see, the marching British contingents); this is unfortunate, as it seems to document the emergence of two nations in this country -- a White one, still observing the proper decencies, displaying absolute loyalty to their Crown; and an ethnic element, who care less about any of these things (assuming that the latest Home Office statistics are correct) than about where they can get or sell their next narcotic joint, or snatch a handbag, or drive down a high street with boom-box blaring obscene and offensive lyrics through their BMW's open windows.

To be precise, as it is equally proper to remark, the camera did linger briefly on one aged coloured lady bent over the railings, her face an impenetrable picture of silent reflection -- I would judge that she came from the Indian sub continent. But that was all. The camera's eye also picked up more than a couple of smirking, gum-chewing, gawkers, whom I suspect to have come from our former colonies.

Yes, the camera often reveals the unsuspected: particularly enjoyable the glimpse of Tony Blair's crony, the Lord Chancellor Derry Irvine, had of the legal profession, wearing a robe that appeared to have been crafted in Gold by the same people who made his expensive wallpaper: As all other heads bowed in prayer, his head remained erect, his little piggy eyes darting furtively around the Hall, now here, now there.

There was also one sad, perhaps even disrespectful, novelty: in my youth, the policemen lining the route would have been wearing ceremonial police uniforms, facing the procession, and saluting their monarch. Even in Hitler's Germany, which was as every schoolboy is taught one of the most hated regimes in all history, the police faced the parade as the leaders drove past in their open Mercedes limousines. Now the police face the crowds, giving their backs to the monarchy as they are driven past in closed, bullet proof Rolls-Royces.

One or two other things: Was the presence today of so many armed British policemen, strutting across the roadway with their Heckler & Koch's, really necessary on such an occasion? Did the sad procession of cars back to the palace have to be preceded by a solitary police motorcyclist, blue-lights blinking, like the man with the red lamp who used to walk ahead of trains? Was it really necessary for four mounted Metropolitan Police to precede the entire ceremonial procession?

To the horror, I suspect, of the present burgundy-flavoured regime at the BBC, as the ceremonial ended these British crowds burst into a loud, spontaneous, uncontrolled applause, which rippled along Whitehall, across Horseguards Parade and down the Mall, as the people caught sight of our present Queen being driven back to the palace with her husband Prince Philip (four of whose sisters were in Germany throughout World War II, married to gauleiters, SS generals, Hermann Göring's signals Intelligence chief, and the like).

No doubt these unrehearsed sounds of loyal admiration will be edited out, and a few cheering Black faces digitally edited into the crowds, using the same techniques that Warner Brothers used to put a few Black children belatedly into the all-White crowd scenes in the Harry Potter movie. This will help to create the image of a united, homogeneous, happy-go-lucky Britain that Tony Blair's BBC would like to project.


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