The abdication

The Duke of Windsor had much to be thankful for

Once a King is trumpeted as ‘game-changing’, a ‘trove of never-before-seen papers which shed fresh light on the maligned Duke of Windsor’ and will ‘turn on its head long-accepted stereotypes’ about him. These are bold claims, but do they stack up? ‘The lost memoir of Edward Vlll’ actually consists of an early draft of the Duke of Windsor’s self-serving memoir, A King’s Story (1951), which Jane Marguerite Tippett found in the papers of the former king’s ghostwriter Charles Murphy in the Boston University archives. Far from being lost, the papers have been known to historians for 20 years and largely ignored in favour of more important collections elsewhere, not least

The delicate business of monitoring the monarchy

This very readable account of relations between the British intelligence services and the Crown does more than it says on the tin. Although subtitled ‘Spying and the Crown, from Victoria to Diana’, it quite properly begins with Queen Elizabeth I and the intelligence network masterminded by Francis Walsingham, whom MI6 regard as their historical progenitor. It also quite properly makes the point that ‘spies and royal statecraft were episodic and opportunistic partners’. Unlike other major powers, Britain had no permanent intelligence services until 1909. There weren’t even any permanent military intelligence organisations until the late 19th century. Such networks as there were came and went with war, or its threat,