Philip Guedalla Defends the Duke

Philip Guedalla became the Duke of Windsor’s most trusted supporter in England. Michael Bloch describes how this historian, wit and failed Liberal politician conceived a brilliant public defence of Edward, which ultimately came too late...

Now that lady Donaldson’s impressive but unsympathetic life of Edward VIII, so sensationally adapted for television, has somehow come to be regarded as a semi-official work and the last word upon the subject, it is only with effort that one recalls that other historians (apart, of course, from the Duke and Duchess as autobiographers) have written books presenting a strong defence case for Edward or giving a rather different view of the Abdication. Lady Donaldson does not give these books a great deal of attention in her pages.

To the one which was most widely read, Compton Mackenzie’s Windsor Tapestry, she devotes half a paragraph, succinctly dismissing it as ‘almost unreadable’. She cannot do the same with Lord Beaverbrook’s Abdication of Edward VIII, for that was written by a man in the thick of the crisis; but she hints - with some justification - that the main aim of that piece was to pay off old scores.

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