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17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis and the Biggest Cover-Up in History

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The story of the love affair between Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII, and his abdication in order to marry the divorcée, has provoked fascination and discussion for decades. However, the full story of the couple's links with the German aristocracy and Hitler has until now remained untold. Meticulously researched, 17 Carnations chronicles this entanglement, starting with The story of the love affair between Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII, and his abdication in order to marry the divorcée, has provoked fascination and discussion for decades. However, the full story of the couple's links with the German aristocracy and Hitler has until now remained untold. Meticulously researched, 17 Carnations chronicles this entanglement, starting with Hitler's early attempts to matchmake between Edward and a German noblewoman. While the German foreign minister sent Simpson seventeen carnations daily, each one representing a night they had spent together, she and the Duke of Windsor corresponded regularly with the German elite. Known to be pro-German sympathizers, the couple became embroiled in a conspiracy to install Edward as a puppet king after the Allies were defeated. After the war, the Duke's letters were hidden in a German castle that had fallen to American soldiers. They were then suppressed for years, as the British establishment attempted to cover up this connection between the House of Windsor and Hitler. Drawing on FBI documents, material from the German and British Royal Archives, and the personal correspondence of Churchill, Truman, Eisenhower and the Windsors themselves, 17 Carnations reveals the whole fascinating story, throwing sharp new light on a dark chapter of history.


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The story of the love affair between Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII, and his abdication in order to marry the divorcée, has provoked fascination and discussion for decades. However, the full story of the couple's links with the German aristocracy and Hitler has until now remained untold. Meticulously researched, 17 Carnations chronicles this entanglement, starting with The story of the love affair between Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII, and his abdication in order to marry the divorcée, has provoked fascination and discussion for decades. However, the full story of the couple's links with the German aristocracy and Hitler has until now remained untold. Meticulously researched, 17 Carnations chronicles this entanglement, starting with Hitler's early attempts to matchmake between Edward and a German noblewoman. While the German foreign minister sent Simpson seventeen carnations daily, each one representing a night they had spent together, she and the Duke of Windsor corresponded regularly with the German elite. Known to be pro-German sympathizers, the couple became embroiled in a conspiracy to install Edward as a puppet king after the Allies were defeated. After the war, the Duke's letters were hidden in a German castle that had fallen to American soldiers. They were then suppressed for years, as the British establishment attempted to cover up this connection between the House of Windsor and Hitler. Drawing on FBI documents, material from the German and British Royal Archives, and the personal correspondence of Churchill, Truman, Eisenhower and the Windsors themselves, 17 Carnations reveals the whole fascinating story, throwing sharp new light on a dark chapter of history.

30 review for 17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis and the Biggest Cover-Up in History

  1. 5 out of 5

    Marcie

    As an historian by trade, I was reluctant to read a history written by someone who is famous for celebrity "biographies". Call it snobbishness but I couldn't care less about Angelina, Madonna or Tom and can't understand why anyone would waste their time reading this tripe. For that matter, I'm not a fan of the Royals either and don't understand the American obsession with these living anachronisms so I was thoroughly surprised that 17 Carnations was so thoroughly researched and that many of Mort As an historian by trade, I was reluctant to read a history written by someone who is famous for celebrity "biographies". Call it snobbishness but I couldn't care less about Angelina, Madonna or Tom and can't understand why anyone would waste their time reading this tripe. For that matter, I'm not a fan of the Royals either and don't understand the American obsession with these living anachronisms so I was thoroughly surprised that 17 Carnations was so thoroughly researched and that many of Morton's source material was primary rather than secondary research. However, I can see why many Goodreads reviewers were less than engaged. If you don't know who the movers and shakers of the era were - Oswald Mosley, Lloyd George, Chamberlain, Attlee, etc. - the cast of characters Morton references can be overwhelming. The most interesting part of the book for me was the ending which was basically about the fight the historians waged to keep valuable and irreplaceable documents from being destroyed for political reasons: not only saving Buckingham Palace from embarrassment but also many prominent American Nazi sympathizers like Charles Lindbergh, Alfred P. Sloan and Henry Ford who put profit ahead of humanity throughout the war. I would have given this book five stars but I can't recommend it to the casual reader.

  2. 4 out of 5

    LeAnne: GeezerMom

    You know those memes where Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are juxtaposed with Wallis Simpson and Prince Edward? So wrong!!!!! The only thing I ‘knew’ about the old pair was that Edward supposedly abdicated the throne because he couldnt marry an American twice-divorced woman with two living exes. Ha! These two were hard drinking, self centered partiers who lived off the fatted calf of royal cash. While she was cheating on her husband with him, he was doling out the equivalent of hundreds of thousa You know those memes where Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are juxtaposed with Wallis Simpson and Prince Edward? So wrong!!!!! The only thing I ‘knew’ about the old pair was that Edward supposedly abdicated the throne because he couldnt marry an American twice-divorced woman with two living exes. Ha! These two were hard drinking, self centered partiers who lived off the fatted calf of royal cash. While she was cheating on her husband with him, he was doling out the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars to her every year to support her lavish lifestyle. That does not include the jewels he gave her. Her allure? She spoke brashly to him while everybody else practically genuflected. Wallis had no intention of leaving her husband as she could do as she pleased while married to him and while he cheated on her. She went to elaborate parties all over Europe and had an affair with one of Hitler’s men at the same time she was having sex with Edward. This Nazi began sending her a box of 17 carnations every single day for ages - thus the title. She and the prince were antisemites who thought that Jews brought their own troubles upon them. They hung out with Nazis and while Edward temporarily ascended the throne, he drunkenly and regularly left boxes of classified defense-related papers open all over the place. Oddly enough, the Germans learned of some of this Intel. This well researched book was a huge eye-opener for me. The first third talks about how the two met and hit the party scene together while at the same time, Nazis were mysteriously having access to British intelligence information. The next section goes into how they basically fell into marriage and toyed with making peace with Germany in exchange for the Germans putting him back on the throne as king. While the Nazis were pulling together millions for the bribe, Edward's little brother George (The King’s Speech George) found out. He immediately appointed Edward Governor of the Bahamas and shipped them the heck away from Europe. The last section of the book meticulously documents how the British government went out of the way to seize documents from Germany (and tried to have them destroyed) that proved what an anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer he was and how he colluded with the Germans. In sum, it was pretty shocking to find out how immoral these two were. With all of the referenced information, various famous folks pop up like Joe Kennedy who hated Jews incredibly. Lindberg and Ford cross the pages too. I finally now understand why prince Charles was too wimpy to have Camilla divorce her husband and marry him instead of tricking teenage Diana Spencer into marriage. His mom, Queen Elizabeth, lived her entire life with the shame of her horrible uncle Edward and the nasty Wallis Simpson. There was no way she would tolerate her son marrying a divorcee - things would be done ‘right’ with Charles. Too bad he didnt have the spine that his sons seem to.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Susan Albert

    Andrew Morton faced a dilemma when he was writing this book. He has to introduce Windsor story to readers who don't already know it, which means that readers who already know are going to be tapping their fingers impatiently and muttering, "Get on with it, old boy." If you belong to the latter club, don't get your knickers in a twist: skim the early chapters and you'll be rewarded when you get to the new (and truly intriguing) stuff. It's well worth the wait to discover the lengths to which the Andrew Morton faced a dilemma when he was writing this book. He has to introduce Windsor story to readers who don't already know it, which means that readers who already know are going to be tapping their fingers impatiently and muttering, "Get on with it, old boy." If you belong to the latter club, don't get your knickers in a twist: skim the early chapters and you'll be rewarded when you get to the new (and truly intriguing) stuff. It's well worth the wait to discover the lengths to which the Royals went to keep their crown untarnished.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    This is definitely not what I learned in history. But of course, my history classes were prior to when WWII information was declassified. I guess that dates me. I was told that the reason the Duke of Windsor abdicated the throne was for purely romantic reasons. This book paints an entirely different view and that view is well substantiated by the "hidden Windsor files" among other things. This is the story of Edward VIII and how he came to be the Duke of Windsor. His behavior prior to when he bec This is definitely not what I learned in history. But of course, my history classes were prior to when WWII information was declassified. I guess that dates me. I was told that the reason the Duke of Windsor abdicated the throne was for purely romantic reasons. This book paints an entirely different view and that view is well substantiated by the "hidden Windsor files" among other things. This is the story of Edward VIII and how he came to be the Duke of Windsor. His behavior prior to when he became king was certainly unbecoming. The details of that behavior are given as if in a novel and thankfully without the unnecessary psycho-analytical stuff. Wallis Simpson's behavior is also accurately described and it is easy to see why the British Royals referred to her as "that woman." The first third of the book describes their backgrounds and how these two self-centered people came to be together. From the read, they probably deserved each other. Their pettiness and concern for themselves is well-depicted in the recounting of how overly concerned they were with the retrieval of their precious linens in Paris while their countrymen feared for their lives. It is appalling! And that doesn't even compare with their views of Hitler and the Nazis. The middle third of the book is about how this feckless duo ended up in the Bahamas. They wanted the prestige of being royalty without the responsibility. They wanted the wealth of royalty but they did not want to pay taxes or use any of their own money for travel. They acted like parasites! The last part of the book is about the actual cover-up of the pair's behavior and the struggle between historians and governments in how to deal with all the incriminating evidence against them. I found it difficult to fathom how, when confronted with actual telegrams sent before and during the war, that the Duke and the British government declared them falsifications. A point is made that the war documents were used in the Nuremburg Trials, and yet they are stated to be inaccurate when revealing unbecoming behavior of a British royal. Reading an account of something like this makes one appreciate how history is recorded and interpreted. I now have a totally different opinion of the House of Windsor. Just for starters, it was never told in my earlier history classes that the Duchess of Windsor was not just a divorcee - she was twice divorced with 2 living husbands when she married the Duke. AND she had her affair with the Duke while she was still married to her second husband. I have one beef with the book: the 17 carnations as part of the title is a bit lame since that seems to be based on unsubstantiated information. I expected more from this than what was written.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    A new used bookstore has opened in the vicinity: Heirloom Books on N. Clark, just north of Granville in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. Being an afficianado of used books, I've been bringing books over to the place regularly. The owner was kind enough to let me walk out with this one when it caught my eye. I've read on many occasions of the relations between Edward VIII and other British aristocrats with the Nazis and the Fascists but had never seen a book simply about Edward ('David' in his fa A new used bookstore has opened in the vicinity: Heirloom Books on N. Clark, just north of Granville in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. Being an afficianado of used books, I've been bringing books over to the place regularly. The owner was kind enough to let me walk out with this one when it caught my eye. I've read on many occasions of the relations between Edward VIII and other British aristocrats with the Nazis and the Fascists but had never seen a book simply about Edward ('David' in his family), his wife and the Axis Powers. What I learned was remarkable and not only in terms of how common such affinities were. Indeed, a wide swath of the aristocratic population of Britain--and of Europe--was attracted to dictatorship, but many of them were also attracted to adultery (allegations of bastardy abound) and drugs, while a majority of them appear to have been very heavy drinkers. Much the same is said of some of the great corporate leaders and common multimillionares in the United States. Although Edward did come around to support the Allies after Pearl Harbor, his race hatred of the Japanese trumping his Teutonophilia, his extremely reactionary views abided until his death. Despite this, even the post-war Labour governments of the United Kingdom did their utmost to destroy or conceal the documentary evidences of his collusion with the enemy, so great was the concern to preserve the mystique of the monarchy. Thankfully, scholarly resistance and American possession of many of the documents led to the preservation of much of the record and, eventually, to its publication. Indicative of Edward's moral degeneracy is the account of his arrangements with the Nazis, the Vichy and Spanish fascists to have his properties in France protected and his bedclothes (and Wallace-Simpson's favorite swimsuit) sent to them on the Iberian Peninsula while the Battle of Britain raged. As the author repeatedly notes, Edward was ever most concerned about his personal comforts than about the welfare of others. I plan to return this book to Heirloom so that others may read it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lois

    This is not even very readable and is poorly written. This author writes unsubstantiated trash and gossip. I'm not sure what I was expecting but this did not deliver. On a book like this I expect the author to have formed an opinion and be working toward proving it, whether the reader agrees or not depends on the strength of the narrative and evidence. In this book it was like the author was afraid to take a firm position so the book just treated all the rumors equally. In other words I know lit This is not even very readable and is poorly written. This author writes unsubstantiated trash and gossip. I'm not sure what I was expecting but this did not deliver. On a book like this I expect the author to have formed an opinion and be working toward proving it, whether the reader agrees or not depends on the strength of the narrative and evidence. In this book it was like the author was afraid to take a firm position so the book just treated all the rumors equally. In other words I know little more after reading this than I did before. Also I'm not entirely sure he actually completely read his sources. I get a feeling he just cherry picked the most salacious crap and added it. Also way too much unnecessary info on Edward and Wallis. Much of it not necessary to the story the author was telling. Edward asking various governments to save or retrieve his possessions-jewelry, sheets/linens, clothing and a bikini is not collusion. The author didn't focus on the Nazi angle. The only take away for me is that I will do more reading about the late Duke of Kent. By a different author. This is my last book by this author. This is too serious a subject for his light treatment and foolish writing style.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gary Patton

    Oh my! Despite their documented, disgraceful behaviour, many people still idolize the Royals. But, WW II history buffs and those who enjoy a good, and true, mystery, will find this book interesting, as I did. Readers also will discover some little known facts about Hitler's foibles and his machinations! Blessings all! GaryFPatton

  8. 4 out of 5

    Naomi Baker

    I quit it about one-third in. Life is short and I have a huge pile of unread books. Gossipy, repetitive, and full of names of socialites dead for decades. Yawn.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce

    Promising start but an awfully boring rest of the book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    Some interesting history, but not quite in the right vein. I wanted just a little more insight into Edward’s VIII's decision to abdicate. This book breezes right through that moment. It seems he already had the idea to give up the throne, even before Wallis became a factor. At the very least he wasn't suited to it. So did Wallis give him the final excuse he needed, or was she his main focus of it all? Did the family always see Wallis as the sole reason he was abdicating? Morton skirts around the Some interesting history, but not quite in the right vein. I wanted just a little more insight into Edward’s VIII's decision to abdicate. This book breezes right through that moment. It seems he already had the idea to give up the throne, even before Wallis became a factor. At the very least he wasn't suited to it. So did Wallis give him the final excuse he needed, or was she his main focus of it all? Did the family always see Wallis as the sole reason he was abdicating? Morton skirts around these questions. I knew they had ties to the Nazis, but I was struck by how very blatant and public it all was. Parades, tours, and parties. Gobs of correspondence and ties to actual spies. They even saw concentration camps. Edward continued to praise Hitler, to the press, even during the war. They don't appear malicious, so they had to have been either willfully ignorant or very naive. At chapter thirteen of seventeen, the author suddenly stops the narrative and starts talking about historic archives. He leaves Edward and Wallis stranded in the Bahamas and never goes back! What happens to them after the war? When do they go back to France? How does their relationship with the royal family evolve? I wanted details of Edward's relationship with Queen Elizabeth, particularly after her coronation in 1953. But we don't get any of that. Did the commissioning editor not read the last half of this book and tell Morton to revise?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    Here is the paperwork to support the rumors that Edward VIII was pro-Nazi. Andrew Morton is a skilled and conscientious popular historian. He follows the young prince from his days at "public" school, where upper class boys learned to be either bully or victim and Edward learned he was a victim; to his reluctant but successful tours to support the contact between British royalty and the rest of the world; to his hatred of his legacy and preference for partying and mistresses; to Wallis. By the t Here is the paperwork to support the rumors that Edward VIII was pro-Nazi. Andrew Morton is a skilled and conscientious popular historian. He follows the young prince from his days at "public" school, where upper class boys learned to be either bully or victim and Edward learned he was a victim; to his reluctant but successful tours to support the contact between British royalty and the rest of the world; to his hatred of his legacy and preference for partying and mistresses; to Wallis. By the time Edward inherited the throne, his soul was given to a married woman who was considered by most to be a gold digger. Nazi officials were welcomed to their parties, and the government's boxes of confidential documents were left lying around openly where anyone could read them. If England wanted to successfully oppose Nazi domination, it could not have Edward VIII as king - or Wallis as queen. Fortunately, Edward had never wanted to be king and seized the opportunity to get out of it. The family, led by Queen Mary, wife of George V, declared war on Wallis. Even after Edward abdicated and married her, they would not meet her or even allow their subjects to do her the honors she had married into. Because Edward continued to push for Wallis's honors all his life, the family remained at odds with him. Because Edward continued to work publically against Britain's opposition to the Nazis, he couldn't even be safely kept within England's boundaries. In effect, the family left him no one to turn to except Nazi sympathizers; and Wallis became angrily anti-British. If they could have brought themselves to treat Edward's wife with common politeness, and kept the couple under wraps in England, they would have spared themselves the loss of Allied good will caused by the British government's determination in the following decades to cover up Edward's indiscretions and protect the reputation of the royal family. There seems to be such a fear among Royalists that Britain might tear down its figurehead monarchy, that the only possible response to misbehavior by family members is to cover it up. What extremes will they go to, to protect the family's reputation? Look at Princess Di. Oddly enough, once the Nazi file on the Windsors finally saw the light, the public wasn't particularly scandalized. As long as the world loves glamour, the Royalist paranoia is unnecessary and self-destructive.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    It started out with such promise. I was so intrigued with the story and the details behind the royal abdication and connection with the Nazis, but less than halfway through, I just couldn't handle it anymore. The author threw out random name after random name after random name. Maybe if you are incredibly well indoctrinated into the royal history of the 1910s-30s, you could easily follow along, but I'm not and I couldn't. It just got to be ridiculous because the names weren't important and weren It started out with such promise. I was so intrigued with the story and the details behind the royal abdication and connection with the Nazis, but less than halfway through, I just couldn't handle it anymore. The author threw out random name after random name after random name. Maybe if you are incredibly well indoctrinated into the royal history of the 1910s-30s, you could easily follow along, but I'm not and I couldn't. It just got to be ridiculous because the names weren't important and weren't moving the story along. The whole second half of the book was all about the hiding and searching for Nazi paperwork regarding the former King. Seriously. It was all about looking for papers, but with no intrigue and more random names of different military members/secretaries/people who happened to be walking by. I finally gave up because I have way too many other books to read, and I was completely dreading every second of this one. I still like the topic, and would love to read a more interesting/engaging book about it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Elliott

    Not quite as salacious as the title would make you think but then again in today's world there isn't much that would be considered salacious. It's not surprising how discreet the royal family tries to be about their lapses in judgment and that's about what this adds up to. So the Duke (former king) said that if he was on the throne things would have been different and he would have stopped the war. At the time, with appeasement talk like that I'm sure that was considered treasonous, a word Morto Not quite as salacious as the title would make you think but then again in today's world there isn't much that would be considered salacious. It's not surprising how discreet the royal family tries to be about their lapses in judgment and that's about what this adds up to. So the Duke (former king) said that if he was on the throne things would have been different and he would have stopped the war. At the time, with appeasement talk like that I'm sure that was considered treasonous, a word Morton uses fairly often. What this book really did was make me appreciate George VI even more for all that he overcame and dislike Edward who comes off as a spoiled, self-absorbed...well...royal. I may include a few "salacious" quotes here later:

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tim Stretton

    Most of the book devoted to the uncontroversial thesis that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were Nazi sympathisers, with some innuendo that they were outright traitors. Neither was it a revelation that both were wholly self-absorbed. The "greatest cover-up in history" was that the British government attempted to suppress documents leading to the above conclusions; since they failed, this hardly constitutes a cover-up. This latter phase of the book is rendered in excruciatingly dull detail--it fe Most of the book devoted to the uncontroversial thesis that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were Nazi sympathisers, with some innuendo that they were outright traitors. Neither was it a revelation that both were wholly self-absorbed. The "greatest cover-up in history" was that the British government attempted to suppress documents leading to the above conclusions; since they failed, this hardly constitutes a cover-up. This latter phase of the book is rendered in excruciatingly dull detail--it felt as if the reader had been button-holed by the Duke of Windsor himself bemoaning the fates which left him sitting out the war in the Bahamas while his cherished sheets were commandeered by the Nazis in Paris. Ho hum.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Caidyn (he/him/his)

    3.5 To be honest, I wouldn't classify this as "the biggest cover-up in history" as Morton does. Everyone knows about it or supposed it. I mean, the aristocracy was pretty racist and anti-Semitic back then, just like a lot of the general population. It's really not that shocking to hear that Edward VIII and various other people shared sentiments with the Nazis. It was really only twisted later that they were against the anti-Semitism. And that isn't just with Britain, but also with the United Stat 3.5 To be honest, I wouldn't classify this as "the biggest cover-up in history" as Morton does. Everyone knows about it or supposed it. I mean, the aristocracy was pretty racist and anti-Semitic back then, just like a lot of the general population. It's really not that shocking to hear that Edward VIII and various other people shared sentiments with the Nazis. It was really only twisted later that they were against the anti-Semitism. And that isn't just with Britain, but also with the United States. But, I found the talk about Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII more interesting than anything else. I've only heard some of it, and mostly biased accounts, of propaganda against Wallis. Really, she seems like a woman of her time who played the wrong cards. And who didn't want to be married to Edward VIII but got boxed into a hole where she couldn't do anything but that. (Although I'd love to read more about it from her perspective to see if my opinion holds up.) This is a good book. A bit sensationalist with the title, but it seems to have solid history behind it. Then again, I'm listening to it rather than reading it so I can't quite see the citations without having to get a physical copy to flip through. Also, a random tangent. But doesn't Lara Pulver as Irene Adler look a whole hell of a lot like Wallis?? I think it was one of the smarter allusions that Mofftiss made.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Heather Hyde

    Oh dear how tedious! Morton has tried to deliver a different angle on a much told story! It is well documented that the Windsors having no real aim or purpose in life after the abdication and their subsequent marriage, were at a very lose end and were courted by the German hierarchy. They responded well to their flattery, being shunned by the Royal Family and certainly for a time the Duke's country. He was notoriously loose lipped, and was desperate to find a role for himself and his wife. Howev Oh dear how tedious! Morton has tried to deliver a different angle on a much told story! It is well documented that the Windsors having no real aim or purpose in life after the abdication and their subsequent marriage, were at a very lose end and were courted by the German hierarchy. They responded well to their flattery, being shunned by the Royal Family and certainly for a time the Duke's country. He was notoriously loose lipped, and was desperate to find a role for himself and his wife. However in no way was he a traitor, he may well have been gullible, naive and childlike, but was deep down fiercely loyal to his country despite being an outcast. Morton is extremely repetitive and goes into far too much unnecessary detail, any of his findings I feel have no real consequence and nothing and no outcome has changed. If this is the first account of the Windsors you pick up I strongly advise you don't, the definitive account of the Duke and Duchess is written by Philip Ziegler, and Charles Murphy is good too, so read these first, it is far more engaging! Morton has tried to be far too clever and it really hasn't worked!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Another book about that incredibly self-absorbed royal/notroyal couple? Oh, how could I resist? Chapter 2: "Adolph Hitler, Royal Matchmaker"-- can you honestly resist that? I readily admit that I am susceptible to any collection of Windsor correspondence or Windsor-related gossip, and the first part of this book gave me that. Some of it already was well known, but there were quite a few fresh factoids. (Did you know that A Hitler was a big Walt Disney fan?) The story of the plot to kidnap the Win Another book about that incredibly self-absorbed royal/notroyal couple? Oh, how could I resist? Chapter 2: "Adolph Hitler, Royal Matchmaker"-- can you honestly resist that? I readily admit that I am susceptible to any collection of Windsor correspondence or Windsor-related gossip, and the first part of this book gave me that. Some of it already was well known, but there were quite a few fresh factoids. (Did you know that A Hitler was a big Walt Disney fan?) The story of the plot to kidnap the Windsors for political purposes was weirdly fascinating. The final four chapters of the book presented a detailed explication of the whereabouts and disposition of certain German documents that would have been embarrassing to the royal family if laid open to the world at large. (The Duke had spoken way too freely and inadvisably. Or just plain ignorantly.) This is a complex story of testy negotiations among various political and scholarly interests. If this is your interest, you probably will find its details marvelously detailed. For me, the details were excessive and detracted from those flamboyant personalities whose escapades I wanted to read about.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This barely wheezed over the line into third star territory because I cannot say I truly disliked it. There were interesting bits but the bulk of the book was boring, overloaded with gossip and positively bloated with name dropping and I must say that the claim that it was the "biggest cover up in history" is a bit of a stretch. Almost against my will I've found myself enjoying The Crown but except for a fictional account here or there and The King's Speech all I've know about the abdication pre This barely wheezed over the line into third star territory because I cannot say I truly disliked it. There were interesting bits but the bulk of the book was boring, overloaded with gossip and positively bloated with name dropping and I must say that the claim that it was the "biggest cover up in history" is a bit of a stretch. Almost against my will I've found myself enjoying The Crown but except for a fictional account here or there and The King's Speech all I've know about the abdication pretty much boils down to the popular concept that this dashing young king gave up the crown for the woman he loved. Swoon, right? As is the case for most things in life, it wasn't quite that simple. Having read a bit and watched a few documentaries I did not find anything earth shaking in the this particular book that I hadn't already heard. The possibility of Nazi collusion being a prime example. What I hadn't realized is what a spoilt pair of whingers the Windsors were. Regarding their connections with Nazi Germany, especially in its up and coming years I cannot say with any certainty that the Duke and Duchess were guilty of much more than familial and friendly connections with people before the rise of the party, some bad judgement and careless talk. Granted, you can look at some of that carelessness, such as repeating confidential information to the wrong sources practically the minute it passed through his ears, or stating that if the Germans just kept bombing the British would capitulate as pretty close to treasonous behavior, especially considering the source, but was it done with malice aforethought. Hard to tell.What really gobsmacked me is that these two seem to have largely been unaware of what was actually happening in their own country. While England is reeling from Dunkirk, gearing up for the Battle of Britain with absurdly limited resources, trying to decide if the princesses, his own nieces, should be sent to Canada for safety the Duke and Duchess are busily brokering arrangements with the occupying forces to have their French properties looked after, sending their maid to fetch a few belongings, sending soldiers to fetch a favorite SWIMMING SUIT, trying to work further deals to get the Royal linens and household goods shipped to the Bahamas and quibbling over travel arrangements. I call bad form and spoilt nincompoop. Asking favors of the enemy? A swim suit for Pete's sake? Apparently Edward VIII figured abdicating meant he would have all the privileges without any onerous duties, free to travel, spend, gossip, and pretty much carry on as he wished, never mind that pesky little war that if he were still king would never have happened. But those were actually the interesting points. I did smile upon being reminded that the king and his trusted courtier took the crown jewels from the Tower of London down into the basement at Windsor Castle and with borrowed pliers pried the gems from their settings and hid them in hat boxes. For some reason that vision has always tickled my funny bone. Morton treats George VI and Elizabeth, Queen Mum, less favorably as some other sources, portraying them as distant, cold, and really almost bullies towards the former king. In their circumstances, time, and place, I'll choose to make allowances. And since I'm making some allowances I have to say I felt some pity for Wallis Simpson. Somehow I felt she may have painted herself into a corner she could not extricate herself from and may have preferred a different life, but she chose her man and ended up a Duchess. As to Edward VIII, David to his family, I wondered what in his upbringing froze him in something approaching adolescence. Was it a choice or was he protected/coddled from the consequences of every day life - did he have ANY grasp of what every day life was like for most people. Was that the case for this entire caste system and social set? I kept waiting for some big reveal about the Windsor/Marburg files but eh, nothing much. So many names and tedious details in the second half of the book as whether or not to publish, destroy, delay, whatever, my eyes began to bleed. Force marched myself through the end just in case there was some little juicy tidbit hidden but alas, no.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Susan Liston

    I confess to some skimming here, but mainly because I read a dual biography of the Duke and Duchess not that long ago and so much of this was not new information. But I did frequently slow down and absorb some tidbit or other. If this was your first exposure to the subject it is a good enough place to start if you find this sort of thing interesting. PS: I don't think this is the biggest cover-up in history, that's going a bit far.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tinadeveny

    Interesting research on the Dike of Windsor and Wallis Simpsons relationship with Hitler, the Nazi party, Italy, Spain and Vichy France, and the cover up of the extent of their relationship by the British and Americans. The victors did not get to rewrite history, they simple buried it for awhile.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Skip Ferderber

    Disappointing, to say the least. With other books describing the pro-Nazi sentiments of the Duke and Dutchess of Windsor, I was expecting this book to impart some huge revelation that would make them seem even more monstrous than they have been portrayed previously. Instead I came away feeling almost sorry for the couple. The duke comes across as a man wholly uncomfortable with his role in life, miserable as British ceremonial royalty, and wanting peace instead of war. He seems truly infatuated Disappointing, to say the least. With other books describing the pro-Nazi sentiments of the Duke and Dutchess of Windsor, I was expecting this book to impart some huge revelation that would make them seem even more monstrous than they have been portrayed previously. Instead I came away feeling almost sorry for the couple. The duke comes across as a man wholly uncomfortable with his role in life, miserable as British ceremonial royalty, and wanting peace instead of war. He seems truly infatuated with the idea, and was well played by the Nazis who seem to envision him as clay in their most capable hands in their efforts to rule England without firing a shot. The royal family in banning the Windsors from having any contact with them, especially the Dutchess, seem less about the duke's political views than about snobbishness regarding the duke's commoner wife. How terribly un-royal of him! While the Dutchess is more than a bit tainted-how many people did she have affairs with? How selfish and arrogant was she really?--the king and queen still seem far more disgusted with the duke's choice of a wife then with the duke's pro-peace, Nazi-friendly stance in the days before WWII. What I didn't expect was that the book ultimately would turn into virtually an academic study of what happened with the trove of Nazi documents captured at war's end, and almost nothing about the Windsors' empty post-war lives in the last third of the book. Charles Higham' 1988 bio of the Dutchess is a better read and more informative.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ariel

    Having read and enjoyed author Morton's earlier books, particularly those about Princess Diana, Tom Cruise, and Madonna, I was really looking forward to this book. The topic is fascinating, a King who gave up his throne for the woman he loved. Morton certainly had a very interesting story to work with. I knew the some basic facts about the couple from other books and the movie The Kings Speech. This book will fill in any gaps in your knowledge and tell you much more than you need or really want Having read and enjoyed author Morton's earlier books, particularly those about Princess Diana, Tom Cruise, and Madonna, I was really looking forward to this book. The topic is fascinating, a King who gave up his throne for the woman he loved. Morton certainly had a very interesting story to work with. I knew the some basic facts about the couple from other books and the movie The Kings Speech. This book will fill in any gaps in your knowledge and tell you much more than you need or really want to know. Unfortunately the telling is done in such a dreadfully dry and boring manner. I had to really push myself to get through this book. The supposed shocking aspect of this book was that the Edward and Wallis were purported to be Nazi sympathizers. I actually didn't find this to be surprising at all. After the couple was drummed out of England, they traveled the world seeking anyone who would revere Edward in the way he once was. Adoration was found at Hitler and the Nazi party's doorstep. The fact that the royal family wanted to cover this up is not surprising in the least. Everyone has a branch of their family tree that they would rather not discuss. For the royal family, the Duke Duchess were a limb they tried to saw off along with any trace of their German ancestry. Edward and Wallis are depicted in an extremely unflattering light in this novel and the gild is taken off their fairytale love story.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Steven Howes

    If you thought the abdication of King Edward VIII so he could marry divorced commoner Wallace Simpson was the forfeiture of a kingdom for the love of a woman, this book will fill you in on "the rest of the story." On the surface, it was a simple love story. However life was not simple, if you were first in line for the British throne and had pro-German leanings during the run up to World War II. Couple that with a number of seemingly irresponsible actions while serving in his official capacity a If you thought the abdication of King Edward VIII so he could marry divorced commoner Wallace Simpson was the forfeiture of a kingdom for the love of a woman, this book will fill you in on "the rest of the story." On the surface, it was a simple love story. However life was not simple, if you were first in line for the British throne and had pro-German leanings during the run up to World War II. Couple that with a number of seemingly irresponsible actions while serving in his official capacity as a representative of the British government and you have the makings of a truly bizarre story. This was a long slog through one of the most trying times in Britain's history. One gets a good look at what the workings of the English monarchy and their relationships with Parliament were like at the time. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mum) were not the likable characters portrayed in the movie "The King's Speech" but neither were the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. This was a very interesting book but I can't say I was sad when I finally made it to the end.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Picked this up from the library after watching a jaw-dropping episode of The Crown. I wanted to get a more complete view than could be portrayed in 45 minutes of screen time. Morton's narrative is engaging and informed, but sadly undocumented with citations or notes of any kind. It is somewhat less than fully objective, as the reader will either loathe the duke of Windsor and his wife for several chapters, then sympathise with them for several chapters more. That sounds objective, but the narrat Picked this up from the library after watching a jaw-dropping episode of The Crown. I wanted to get a more complete view than could be portrayed in 45 minutes of screen time. Morton's narrative is engaging and informed, but sadly undocumented with citations or notes of any kind. It is somewhat less than fully objective, as the reader will either loathe the duke of Windsor and his wife for several chapters, then sympathise with them for several chapters more. That sounds objective, but the narrative is constructed carefully to shift such perceptions according to what is provided about larger background context involving Nazi leadership on the one hand, and the icy treatment by George VI on the other. The duke and his wife emerge for the most part as clueless, extremely self-centred, materially excessive pawns between Hitler, Churchill, and George VI.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Hmmm, very well researched, but it was hard to figure out just what the "biggest cover-up in history" was. But it gave me some nice insert into the Duke of Windsor and what an issue he was during World War II.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gea

    Morton, Andrew: “17 Carnations” [ The Royals, the Nazi’s, and the Biggest Cover-up in History]@2015 Grand Central Publishing. Mr. Morton makes the compelling argument that the Duke of Windsor thought that only a powerful, properly armed Germany was a bulwark against the Soviet menace. In the meantime, Hitler needless to say, did not know that Princess Stephanie, an avid Nazi sympathizer, was Jewish. She unwittingly or knowingly became his tool to determine that the Duke would be an asset. Hitler Morton, Andrew: “17 Carnations” [ The Royals, the Nazi’s, and the Biggest Cover-up in History]@2015 Grand Central Publishing. Mr. Morton makes the compelling argument that the Duke of Windsor thought that only a powerful, properly armed Germany was a bulwark against the Soviet menace. In the meantime, Hitler needless to say, did not know that Princess Stephanie, an avid Nazi sympathizer, was Jewish. She unwittingly or knowingly became his tool to determine that the Duke would be an asset. Hitler was prepared to use every means possible to bend international opinion to favor Nazi demands and his key target was Prince of Wales. In all of this, Princess Stephanie, who became an agent for Hitler, was described as Europe's number one secret diplomat, and Hitler's mysterious courier. It was into this that Wallis Simpson as Hitler’s target entered the picture. Mrs Wallis Simpson was being spoken of as a Nazi spy by the British and French. Her one aim was to keep the Prince of Wales entertained and amused, never thinking that one day she would be asked to divorce her current husband and marry the then King. Her current husband made a deal with King Edward that if he divorced his wife the King would pay her way. Wallis at first cried foul but when she found out that her husband was in an affair she acquiesced. In addition, Lady Emerald Cunard already married to Sir Bache Cunard, heir to the eponymous shipping line gave lavish parties at her home, admired Hitler, adored opera and loved poetry. She encouraged diplomats and politicians into embarrassing indiscretions and was infatuated with the Prince of Wales, who hated the title Prince, hated the idea of being king and sought anything to direct his attention away from the throne. His indiscretions through his liaisons with several mistresses was an embarrassment to the monarchy even though he was in his 40’s! But as the Prince never learned, always friendships came with a price and this one was no different. They all expected that as soon as Edward became king he would bestow lavish appointments and titles upon them just for being his "friend." The Prince of Wales or Edward had the false notion that because he was more widely traveled than any politician alive, had met more leaders and spoken to more people that he could sway the British government to see his Wallis should be accepted as Queen. In addition, much to his lack of discernment he thought that Hitler's regime was the best way to avoid conflict and another war and he was the man behind the throne to make it happen. Naively, he thought this because of his summers there as a student and his ability to speak fluently the German language and naively he considered his position as a way into the hearts of the British common man but it was not to be. In addition, his anti-Semitic views distracted him but he seemed unconcerned about the Jewish problem counting that it was Germany's problem not Britain’s. He ignored or discounted it because the throne never hired or used any Jewish servants etc. He was sympathetic to Hitler's views and naively thought that the Anglo - German ideas could not only flourish but be accepted. Hitler learned, just as ISIS has learned, that video and film is the way to get the message across and he learned the tricks of the trade from none other than Disney. As he watched the funeral procession of the Prince of Wales, father, the King, he noted Wallis Simpson in the background. Hitler seized upon this as an opportune moment in history to cement British and Germanic ties. He determined that she was the pivot of Anglo-German relations, all the while the British were questioning Edward's fitness to reign. Another similarity; ISIS must have read the Fuhrer's documents or this book because on Mar 11, 1936 Hitler took a gamble to invade the Rhineland. He waited to see if the new King Edward would side with France act to stop him but history reveals that instead Edward did nothing and in fact said do not upset our German friends. It was that directive that emboldened Hitler and so too with ISIS. They took their first step and the world stood watching and did nothing. Now they are emboldened and are doing just what Hitler did, taking more countries under their control through fear and terror. Prince Edward now King Edward, chose as a selfish child who was when threatened would pout and choose to abdicate the throne which he did in 1936 and soon found out that he no longer had the perks of a king and more of a commoner. He exploded when given advice to not hire one man to be his secretary saying “I have never had the opportunity to judge another so I will take it as it comes but let me judge this person.” The more I read I recalled the biblical story of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son. God had placed around him wise counselors but just like Rehoboam he renounced them all and thus his decisions reflect the lack of that training to be discerning and perceptive. He quickly was learning what the word "exile" meant both literally and figuratively. He was offered 25000 £ to remain out of Britain and was essentially "tainted goods" and a non-person. From 1936 to Sept 3, 1939 when war was declared, the Duke of Windsor acted irrationally without regard to his brother's position as the new king of England. He traveled and was escorted throughout Germany and spoke eloquently with Hitler. He even sent letters to request that Hitler stop and to not go further but Hitler had his eyes on Poland and that would be the straw that opened England's eyes to his real plan of making all of Europe a Germany. While on the one hand Hitler was openly friendly to the Duke, the Duchess saw beneath his exterior to a man who was shallow and cold and yet she continued to favor him as the Germanic leader for she had eyes on becoming a defacto queen when Hitler won the war. Throughout the Duke of Windsor never seemed to understand the price he paid for his abdication but as the book of Daniel reveals, God raises up and puts down leaders and the Duke would have been a disastrous leader for England because of his Nazi leanings and sympathies. Upon his arrival back in London the military feared that because of his lack of discernment he might inadvertently give away secrets to the enemy. The Earl of Crawford noted: “the Duke is too irresponsible to be entrusted with confidential information; he will blab and babble without realizing the danger.” So it was with the Duke. He blamed the current government for getting them into this mess and took no blame on himself. Both he and the Duchess acted as spoiled children thinking that their sin should be overlooked and be accepted back into the fold. They found otherwise. How interesting that he was only interested in seeking a peaceful resolution if England would pay his taxes but with that off the table his enthusiasm waned instantly! It was when Hitler learned, through the Duke, military secrets that he changed his battle plan. In fact it was a German agent who was attached to the Duke's office that offered this intelligence courtesy of the Duke himself. The Duchess herself became a spy as well as she learned of details and passed them on in revenge for the way the British treated her. They both were seen as loose-lips and defeatists who could not be trusted with any information of military importance. Morton presents a tale of drama and deceit which no James Bond movie could duplicate. Files found after the war implicate the Duke and Duchess which threatened the crown and the Windsor line. Yet the crown went to exorbitant details to hide it all until his death. The tale of intrigue and the ongoing characters reads like an Ian Fleming novel in which the far-fetched is the reality. Where are these documents today? They were published after the death of the Duke and the Duchess and wonder of wonders the monarchy has remained as it was and Queen Elizabeth has remained untarnished as she reigns. Always and forever it was that when the monarchy was threatened they were prepared to destroy a historical project of vital national importance in order to protect the royal family. Even Eisenhower assisted in the cover up but the documents revealed how British foreign policy altered the way the government approached central war aims, namely the prosecution of war criminals and the re-education of the German people so that they fully appreciated the causes of the war and why they had lost it. Morton writes that that Illusion and reality are a balancing act that goes to the heart of the monarchy, the king and his courtiers instinctively working to ensure that the audience never pays attention to the man behind the curtain. "the monarchy is an illusion which works. It has pragmatic sanction" To expose the Duke would be to expose the monarchy that national crucible of duty honor and stability to possible shame and contumely. Only in death did the turmoil of an abdicated king and his love find their way back into the Windsor family and they were buried in the family plot. The Windsor files were published and the monarchy did not falter. Morton presents an excellent book that is at first a boring drama of escapades and indiscretions but if you stick with it the drama turns the corner and becomes like a James Bond novel. Morton is to be commended for the details he provides as to dates and persons. Unfortunately like as always we do not learn from past mistakes as we see our own President making bed-fellows with those who corrupt and evil; calling evil good and good evil. Will we ever learn? Perhaps the President should read this book!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    IMHO the first part of the book is the most interesting. The latter part of the book covers the fight over keeping German archives from the from being public. Governments and well known politicians were involved in trying to keep the papers from public view. To do so was considered harmful to the British monarchy. I was more interested in the personal story of the Duke of Windsor and his abdication and eventual marriage to Wallis Simpson. I hadn’t realized that he was king for a period of time, IMHO the first part of the book is the most interesting. The latter part of the book covers the fight over keeping German archives from the from being public. Governments and well known politicians were involved in trying to keep the papers from public view. To do so was considered harmful to the British monarchy. I was more interested in the personal story of the Duke of Windsor and his abdication and eventual marriage to Wallis Simpson. I hadn’t realized that he was king for a period of time, though not officially crowned. From reading this well-researched book I do believe Edward was much in love with Wallis and also feel she was good for him. I hadn’t realized how much of a public figure he was even after his abdication. And this book certainly shows what a selfish person he was—more interested in he and his wife and their comfort than any other thing. A most worthwhile read in my opinion.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kathie

    With reactionary politics becoming a "thing" worldwide, I decided to read "17 Carnations" by Andrew Morton, which deals with Nazi connections with England's Royal Family before and during World War II. While I had hoped for more than just the story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's bumbling activities, I really learned a great deal about how close they were to Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany. It's worth the read just to learn about the fuss over the"Nile green swimsuit." 17 Carnations was With reactionary politics becoming a "thing" worldwide, I decided to read "17 Carnations" by Andrew Morton, which deals with Nazi connections with England's Royal Family before and during World War II. While I had hoped for more than just the story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's bumbling activities, I really learned a great deal about how close they were to Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany. It's worth the read just to learn about the fuss over the"Nile green swimsuit." 17 Carnations was eye-opening. I wouldn't have chosen Andrew Morton as a writer of history, but he does do a surprisingly well-researched job with this book. My only real disappointment is the lack of coverage of Oswald Mosley, the leader of the fascists in the UK. Guess I'll need to read his wife, Diana Mitford's, book to get the story of him.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Julie Ferguson

    As a rule I would never read a book by Andrew Morton, but a trusted colleague suggested that I might be surprised by 17 carnations. I was. The book is in two distinct parts. The first retells the lives of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, before and after Edward V111's abdication until the end of WW2 with new information. The second delves into the unknown story of the recovery of files about them that the Nazis hid, and what the British government and royal family did to suppress them. Morton appe As a rule I would never read a book by Andrew Morton, but a trusted colleague suggested that I might be surprised by 17 carnations. I was. The book is in two distinct parts. The first retells the lives of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, before and after Edward V111's abdication until the end of WW2 with new information. The second delves into the unknown story of the recovery of files about them that the Nazis hid, and what the British government and royal family did to suppress them. Morton appears to have done his research well since the release of archival material opened up more of the story. He did well, but I now want to read the viewpoints of more scholarly historians on the same material. 17 Carnations feels as if Morton wanted to prove he could write a less sensationalistic, salacious account of members of the royal family. This book is a page turner and demands that the reader forms their own opinions of the actions of the ducal couple and later the British Establishment. It contains many quotes from both, as well as those that knew all the parties involved, including Churchill and Moncton, the duke's lawyer and friend. I'll leave readers to form their own views, and you surely will as Morton's story makes you. I will read more of the recent scholarship before I form a final opinion on the facts and, perhaps, fiction in 17 Carnations. I gave the book three stars d/t some repetitive sections. It could have done with a tighter edit. However, I do recommend readers of historical nonfiction to try this one.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dale White

    So the book is basically about rich people sleeping around, buying expensive stuff, saying stupid things and acting like spoiled brats. Like that hasn't happened before. Ok, more specifically, it was about Edward Vlll, his love for Wallis Simpson, and his abdication. And yes, it was about his leanings toward appeasement and maybe his sympathies for Nazism. And it was intriguing that Hitler was interested in him regaining the throne if Germany's invasion of Britain had succeeded. But the whole st So the book is basically about rich people sleeping around, buying expensive stuff, saying stupid things and acting like spoiled brats. Like that hasn't happened before. Ok, more specifically, it was about Edward Vlll, his love for Wallis Simpson, and his abdication. And yes, it was about his leanings toward appeasement and maybe his sympathies for Nazism. And it was intriguing that Hitler was interested in him regaining the throne if Germany's invasion of Britain had succeeded. But the whole story just got bogged down in the dozens of minor characters that Morton decided had to be referenced. And the biggest cover up in history? Really? The biggest cover up might be why certain people especially the royal family - George Vl and Queen Elizabeth (the present queen's mum)- were so intent on keeping Edward's correspondence buried. Sure it was embarrassing, but they didn't even like Edward and especially Wallis, so why would they care that Edward's political leanings or behaviour during the war would be publicized? Edward would be the one to lose and George the one to win (in comparison) so I was unclear as to why they were so intent on covering up anything.

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