Newly released papers from the UK’s National Archives have revealed that Winston Churchill wanted to “destroy all traces” of telegrams about a Nazi plot to reinstate the abdicated King Edward VIII to the throne in return for his support during the Second World War.
According to the Guardian, the telegrams reveal a plan to kidnap the Duke of Windsor – as the abdicated monarch was then known, and his wife Wallis Simpson, in Portugal in 1940.
The Cabinet Office papers released by the National Archives reveal a 1953 appeal from Churchill to US president Dwight D Eisenhower and the French government to prevent publication of the telegrams for at least “10 to 20 years”, the Guardian reports.
Churchill believed the telegrams were likely to give the misleading impression that the duke was in regular touch with German agents, and open to ideas which were disloyal. The prime minister’s appeal was made after he’d learnt a microfilm of the documents had fallen into the hands of the US State Department, and were being considered for inclusion in the US’ official history of the war.
Although Churchill succeeded, and publication of the telegrams was delayed by a few years, they still eventually came to light in 1957.