Friday, August 12, 2011

The Royal W.E Unique Glimpses of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor by Victoria Martinez

It is a shame that Victoria Martinez's book was published after Hugo Vickers'  superb Behind Closed Doors. 

The Royal W.E. Unique Glimpses of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor

Martinez is an excellent writer, but this work, which is based on previously published articles in European History Journal and the Journal for Duke and Duchess of Windsor Society,  is largely an apologia for the Windsors.   This scholarly, yet sympathetic portrait, relies on many contemporary sources, including Greg King's biography, The Duchess of Windsor,  Michael Thornton's Royal Feud and the Michael Bloch books.  The Bloch books were of course commissioned not by the Duchess (who had no idea what was going on around her) but by Maitre Suzanne Blum.  (Blum forged Wallis' signature to obtain her Power of Attorney.)

I think Martinez spent far too much time disputing the theory set forth by Michael Bloch that Wallis was a hermaphrodite.  Vickers provides more details about how Bloch's The Duchess of Windsor came to be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 1996, the centenary of Wallis' birth.     No publishers were interested in another biography, so Bloch and his agent had to come up with a new angle.  Bloch "decided to promote the idea that the Duchess had been a man."  He told James Lees-Milne that Maitre Blum believed this.   Vickers is  not sure that Bloch himself believed it.  He went to Paris to talk to Wallis' doctor, Jean Thin, about his idea.  But the book makes no mention of Bloch's visit to Thin, so one can assume that Thin told him that the idea was crazy.    (Some years later, Thin was interviewed by James Fox for an article about the Windsors in Vanity Fair, and the subject of Wallis' sex was brought up: "That's ridiculous.  She was a woman."

Martinez refers to Lord Mountbatten as Victoria's grandson, when, in fact, he was a great-grandson.  She also would not have known that the jewels meant for Princess Alexandra and the Duchess of Kent were appropriated by Maitre Blum.  This was information revealed by Vickers.

The book's final chapter, A Fool Would Know, covers in extensive detail the 1946 robbery of Wallis's jewels during a visit to Ednam Lodge, the country estate of the Earl of Dudley.  This is the book's best chapter, and well worth reading. 

The fact that the author's bias is very pro-Duke and Duchess of Windsor is not a reason, in my view, to not read this otherwise very fine publication. 

The Royal W.E Unique Glimpses of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor is not available in  bookstores, but it can be ordered from several sources including Amazon (for that Kindle thing.)

The Royal W.E. Unique Glimpses of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor

The price is a steal at  $2.99.  The  book can also be ordered from at £2.14.

for Nook readers:

And for other electronic readers:

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