Did The Royal Family Really Support The Nazis? Fact-Checking ‘The Crown’
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 21: Matt Smith attends the World Premiere of season 2 of Netflix "The Crown" at Odeon Leicester Square on November 21, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)
Mike Marsland/WireImage

The Crown is one of the most popular shows on the streaming platform, Netflix. The widely acclaimed historical drama, created by Peter Morgan, has won 39 awards and been nominated for 141 others. 

In addition to various accolades, The Crown has been massively successful with viewers. According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Netflix users watched more than 3 billion minutes of the series in the week of Nov. 16-22” last year.

One unfortunate outcome of its monumental success, however, is that many are using The Crown — which is at least partly fictional — as a reference for their entire understanding of both British history and the monarchy itself. Often, this has disastrous consequences.

Earlier this week, responding to Oprah Winfrey’s controversial interview with former royals Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Joy Behar, co-host of The View, used The Crown to argue that the accusations of racism leveled by Markle against the Royal Family were true, simply because of their “notorious” links with Nazism.

“Everything you need to know about the royal family is in The Crown. Philip’s sister was married to a Nazi. Edward was a nazi sympathizer, and had to abdicate because of it. Please. This family is notorious,” Behar tweeted.

It seems apt, given such a display of shocking ignorance and cherry-picking of royal figures, to provide Behar — and others whose entire understanding of British history rests on The Crown — with a deeper look at the claims being made, and the actual history Behar intentionally ignores.

Prince Philip

When writing that “Philip’s sister was married to a Nazi,” Behar is presumably referencing one of The Crown’s earliest scenes, where Winston Churchill — played by John Lithgow — loudly declares during then-Princess Elizabeth’s wedding that Prince Philip’s sisters weren’t present because they were married to Nazis.

“You know why his three sisters aren’t here? They’re all married to Nazis!” Lithgow stage-whispered. “Prominent Nazis!”

While it is true that his three sisters were married to prominent Nazis — with Cecilie joining the Nazi party with her husband, George Donatous, Sophie marrying Prince Christoph von Hessen who later became a director for Third Reich’s Ministry of Air Forces, and Margarita, who married Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, Gottfried, a commander in the German Army — to claim that these “associations” have anything to do with the Royal Family is almost perverse.

When Philip’s sister, Cecilie, was killed with her husband and two children, Philip attended the funeral and was photographed among Nazi soldiers, making his sister’s connections with the Nazi Party apparent. He was 16 at the time.

What makes Behar’s implication so appalling is that Prince Philip was an active participant in World War II as a member of the British forces, while two of his brothers-in-law fought on the German side. He was appointed as a midshipman in January 1940 in the Royal Navy, spending four months on the battleship HMS Ramillies protecting Australian convoys in the Indian Ocean. He was also posted to HMS Kent, HMS Shropshire and in Ceylon. After Italy invaded Greece in October 1940, he was transferred to the battleship HMS Valiant in the Mediterranean Fleet.

He was involved in the battle of Crete, as well as the battle of Cape Matapan, and was later awarded the Greek War Cross. In 1942, he was appointed to the destroyer and flotilla leader HMS Wallace, which was involved in the Allied invasion of Sicily and the escort of convoys on the east coast of Britain.

In 1942, as second in command of HMS Wallace, he saved the ship from a night bomber attack. In 1944, he moved to the destroyer HMS Whelp, where he saw service with the British Pacific Fleet in the 27th Destroyer Flotilla, and was present in Tokyo Bay when the instrument of Japanese surrender was signed.

So, while “Philip’s sister was married to a Nazi,” Behar ignores the undeniable fact that Philip served his country during World War II and actively fought against the Nazis, risking his life in the process. To argue that such an association between Philip and the Nazis is any indication of Philip’s ideology is appalling.

King Edward VIII

Next, Behar wrote that “Edward was a nazi sympathizer, and had to abdicate because of it.” Firstly, the reason for Edward’s abdication had nothing to do with his sympathy for Nazis, but rather because he insisted on marrying Wallis Simpson. This marriage would have been deemed as morally unacceptable, largely because remarriage after divorce was opposed by the Church of England. Ironically, the fact that Prince Harry married a divorcee in Meghan Markle indicates that times have changed.

On the evening of December 11, 1936, Edward explained his decision to abdicate, saying “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.” He added that the “decision was mine and mine alone … The other person most nearly concerned has tried up to the last to persuade me to take a different course.”

Edward moved to Austria soon after. It wasn’t until October 1937 that the now-Duke and Duchess of Windsor visited Nazi Germany — against the advice of the British government — and met with Adolf Hitler. During that visit, the Duke even gave full Nazi salutes.

During Prince Edward’s brief reign as King, Wallis “had a peculiarly close relationship with Joachim von Ribbentrop (who was then the Reich’s ambassador to England),” with Ribbentrop even boasting of a sexual affair with Wallis.

During the war, in an effort to weaken such continuing ties, Churchill and King George made the Duke of Windsor governor of the Bahamas. According to the Observer, “the Windsors were passing on state and military secrets to the Nazis and had cut a deal to assume the throne once the Swastika was flying over Buckingham Palace.”

However, to argue that such Nazi sympathies were in any way supported by the Royal Family, or that such sympathies were a reason for his abdication, is demonstrably false.

Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Did The Royal Family Really Support The Nazis? Fact-Checking ‘The Crown’