‘King’s Speech’: The Soviet Ambassador’s View in 1940 of ‘the Warring Wives of Windsor’

Queen Elizabeth ('the Queen Mum'), Elizabeth II & George VI

           How much truth does the ‘King’s Speech’ hold?  Increasingly, it appears to have been very faithful to the spirit of the story.  A new sidelight to ‘The Warring Wives of Windsor’ verifies Helena Bonham Carter’s portrayal of George VI’s wife.

           Ivan Maisky served as the Soviet ambassador to the United Kingdom between 1932 and 1943.  The April 28 New York Review of Books (‘The Communist and the King’) presents this excerpt from his diary for August 17, 1940:

The Duke of Windsor has arrived with his Mrs. Simpson in the Bahamas, where he has been appointed governor. Essentially, of course, this is exile. Why has the former king been treated so harshly?

 I’ve heard from excellent sources that Queen Elizabeth is behind it all. She is “master” of the house and has the King under her thumb. She is awfully jealous. She has set herself the task of bringing popularity and splendor to the royal family. She sends the King everywhere—to camps, factories, the troops, the front line—so that he should appear everywhere, so that people should see him and grow used to him. She never rests either: bazaars, hospitals, telephone operators, farmers, etc.—she visits them all, gives her blessing, graces with her presence, parades. She even pulled off the following, highly unusual stunt recently. The Queen’s brother…arranged a private tea party to which a dozen prominent American journalists were invited. The Queen attended the party too, and for 1½ hours she “chatted graciously” to the correspondents, together and individually. But not, of course, for the papers. The Queen is terribly afraid that the Duke of Windsor might return home and “steal” his brother’s popularity, which required so much effort to achieve. That is why the Duke of Windsor was exiled to the Bahamas.

 Photo CreditOfficial Website of the British Monarchy, George VI.