Traitor King: The Scandalous Exile of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor
Andrew Lownie

Traitor King: The Scandalous Exile of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor

Traitor King, looks at the years following the abdication of Edward Vlll when the former king was kept in exile, feuding with his family over status for his wife, Wallis Simpson, and denied any real job. 

Drawing on extensive research into hitherto unused archives and Freedom of Information requests,  it makes the case that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were not the naïve dupes of the Germans but actively intrigued against Britain in both war and peace.

It reveals:

- the story behind the German attempts to recruit him as a British Petain in the summer of 1940.

- the attempts, by Churchill in particular,  to prevent post-war publication of the captured German documents which detailed the Duke’s Nazi intrigues.

- the reasons why the Duke, as Governor of the Bahamas, tried to shut down the investigation into the 1943 murder of his close friend Harry Oakes.

- the full extent of the feud with the British Royal Family, based on his betrayals going back to his dishonesty about his true financial position at the time of the Abdication.

- that far from a love story, Wallis felt trapped in a marriage she had never wanted with a pathetic and suffocating husband, one of the reasons she took several lovers, including the gay playboy Jimmy Donahue.

With uncanny modern parallels Traitor King tells the story of a royal exiled with his wife, turning his back on duty, his family and using his position for financial gain.


Book Details:

  • Author: Andrew Lownie
  • Published Year: 2021
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: Bonnier
    • US: Pegasus
    • Russia: Eksmo
    • Italy: Neri Pozza
    • Portugal: Grupo Leya
Andrew Lownie

Andrew Lownie

Andrew Lownie was born in 1961 and was educated in Britain and America. He read history at Magdalene College, Cambridge where he was President of the Union. He went on to gain an MSc at Edinburgh University and spend a year at the College of Law in London. After a period as a bookseller and journalist, he began his publishing career as the graduate trainee at Hodder & Stoughton. In 1985 became an agent at John Farquharson, now part of Curtis Brown, and the following year became the then youngest director in British publishing when he was appointed a director. Since 1984 he has written...
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Book Reviews

  • "briskly written and compulsively readable...Does Andrew Lownie persuade me both that it is worth telling the story again, and that he has made out the case for his unforgiving title? The answer is an unambiguous yes. I don’t think any of the previous books have quite confronted, with Lownie’s candour and forensic skill, the sheer accumulation of evidence....By the conclusion to the book, I for one felt that Lownie had made his case with overwhelming force. Along the way, he had managed to lace his story with some wonderfully salacious gossip"
    A.N. Wilson, Times Literary Supplement
  • "meticulous research and telling detail in lively prose ."
  • "a remarkably detailed and refreshingly different outlook on their lives. While most biographies of the couple finish with the 1936 abdication, this is the point where Lownie’s investigation begins…Lownie’s research for the book has been fastidious."
    Salisbury Journal
  • "Lownie’s descriptions of the antics of various intelligence agents outdoing anything you might read in spy fiction… The suggestion is that he was complicit in a scheme to install him as a puppet ruler in Britain after a negotiated peace, an accusation the Duke denied when the files became public in 1957. Lownie is dutiful in compiling his evidence on this matter and his argument is convincing….While much of the material in this book is familiar, Lownie presents it in a way which makes it seem fresh again, as well as urgent reading for current and future royals.  "
    Evening Standard
  • "darkly compelling…hundreds of eye-popping details…Gripping though it is, this is an unrelentingly damning portrait of the Windsors."
    Daily Mail ‘Book of the Week’
  • "this page-turner of a biography. Andrew Lownie draws revealing insights from his diligent research…This compelling biography disabuses the reader of any romantic notions once held, not least initially by Churchill, about Edward. Lownie paints a devastating portrait of the duke and duchess…this biography is a timely point of comparison when set against the ongoing trials and tribulations of the House of Windsor…a cautionary tale of a royal whose behaviour, values and standards squandered the respect, loyalty and pride of the people he was call upon to serve."
    The Tablet
  • "Thoroughly researched and compelling narrative of one of the most controversial periods in royal history. "
    Andrew Morton
  • "Lownie reveals Edward not as a dupe of the Nazis, but an active and culpable collaborator...The list of individuals interviewed and archives consulted is formidable. The more impressive then, that this is a wonderfully readable and succinct story."
    BBC History Magazine
  • "  Andrew Lownie has a remarkable ability to fashion a compelling narrative from raw archive text and personal reminiscence. His Traitor King (Blink, £25), about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and their questionable cohorts, is every bit as absorbing as his earlier history of the Mountbattens. "
    Andrew Lycett, Spectator Books of the Year
  • "definitively answering  some of the enduring mysteries …Lownie fearlessly yet fairly provides the answers. Lownie appears to have read every book ever written about the Windsors and drilled deep into unpublished archives as well…Lownie has dug into the couple’s complex love lives just as deeply…The full ghastly truth about them has remained obscure until now, partly thanks to a judicious cover-up by the British Establishment…"
    History Today
  • "Andrew Lownie’s compelling volume… an unflattering portrait of this entitled couple ."
    Daily Mail Royal Books of the Year
  • "Meticulously researched and with so much new material on one of the most controversial Royals of the 20th century. Lownie reveals shocking new aspects to the life of Edward, Duke of Windsor, and firmly placed the Duke as a traitor to his country"
    Helen Fry, Aspects of History: Books of 2021
  • "  this “explosive new royal biography” (front-cover blurb) by the highly regarded author of books about Guy Burgess and the Mountbattens,.. a biographer as serious and scholarly as Andrew Lownie …Lownie gives heft to George Orwell’s famous observation that the England of that time was a family, but one “with the wrong members in control” "
    Times 'Book of the Week'
  • "Through meticulous research Lownie makes a convincing argument for the duke’s treachery…Edward is revealed for what he was: a traitor to the British people and an ally to Hitler….Academic in its tone and shocking in its contents, Lownie goes  where no royal biography has gone before. It sheds new light on British history and during the Second World War and would make for a stellar tv series."
    The Lady
  • "As he did in his earlier work on the Mountbattens, Lownie has written an exhaustively researched account of two prominent figures close to the British Royal family. His findings in each case are disturbing. Lownie can unpack such public figures, delving deeply through the written records, to reveal much false veneer, but also quite a number of venal truths. In his page turner analysis of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson in exile, Lownie strips back the myths and the many attempts to pass them off as a naïve couple of, at worst, 1930s appeasement views on Germany. He also diminishes notions that theirs was a love match against the odds… Lownie’s real achievement is not only to record the various moments of collaboration between the Windsors and the Nazis, but to parallel this with their self-absorbed search for status and easy wealth…. Lownie’s read is a sumptuous one. The life of any high society’s main players is, for most, entertainment – even more so with today’s social media. Lownie, in Traitor King – The Scandalous Exile of The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, not only captures the story – in pertinent and considered reflection and record – of one of the twentieth century’s most glamorous and serious scandals, but also delivers to his reader copious accounts of the couple’s indulgence in material glamour and possessions. Along with descriptions to wallow in. This could be the makings of a documentary to die for, plus some serious history – on a streaming service yet to be determined"
    Sydney Institute
  • "Andrew Lownie has uncovered an array of new sources regarding the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and he exhibits a sovereign command of the existing biographies. Tackling the most sensitive subjects—the Duke and Duchess’ sexuality, their pro-Nazi views, their problematic behavior during the war, and the complicated nature of their relationship - Lownie has painted the most convincing portrait of the couple to date.   The results are fascinating, if disconcerting."
    Jonathan Petropoulos, author of Royals and the Reich: The Princes von Hessen in Nazi Germany.
  • "   Andrew Lownie does not pull his punches.  His well researched biography of the former Edward V111, before and after his  abdication, will shock even the most loyal royalist"
    Sir Christopher Ondaatje, Author, The Last Colonial
  • "  Lownie gathers convincing evidence of Edward’s collaboration with Germany and amasses a wealth of new material, including intimate details about the Duchess’s affair with American socialite James Donahue. Royal watchers will be riveted.  "
    Publishers Weekly
  • "Although numerous books have been written about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson), Lownie’s (The Mountbattens) well-researched and comprehensive book proves there’s more to learn about the couple. He dispels many myths and misunderstandings about the couple’s motivations, while scrupulously avoiding sensationalism. Readers will find not salacious gossip but careful analysis and an accurate portrait of an unpleasant, grasping, manipulative couple trying to find purpose in their lives after Edward abdicated the British throne in 1936. With war looming, the couple made no secret of their affinity for Nazi politics, or of Simpson’s friendship with the Nazi politician Joachim von Ribbentrop. Some have argued that Edward’s approach to Nazi Germany was simply naive, but Lownie’s research establishes otherwise; he concludes that the duke would have betrayed his country as casually as he betrayed his friends. Edward later publicly renounced the worst Nazi offenses, but his friendships, comments, and antisemitism reveal another truth. VERDICT Crisp prose, meticulous research with extensive footnotes, and careful objectivity make Lownie’s biography accessible to all readers. "
    Library Journal
  • "...has scoured the archives with admir­able thoroughness… scrupulously referenced treatment of the diplomatic complexities of the Windsors’ pariah status… The meat of Lownie’s absorbing and easily digestible book, however, is embodied in its title. “Traitor” is a strong word, but it is not melodramatic: in purely legal terms, for example, there would have been grounds for prosecuting the Duke under the 1940 Treachery Act, in the light of evidence that he sent a coded telegram to a German agent during the Battle of Britain."
    Daily Telegraph
  • " I can safely say it is one of the best books I have read this year.. the book doesn’t read as one written by an author with a personal hatred for the subjects, rather these people are just so awful that there is no way to flatter the image."
  • "I absolutely loved this book – it’s an era of history about which I knew shamefully little and I found it fascinating. It’s an absolute hand grenade of a book – explosive and shocking – and you can imagine that the Royal Family should be diving for cover!"
  • "  Andrew Lownie has produced another first class piece of revisionist history which still contains the power to intrigue, shock and startle. If you read only one excoriating deconstruction of the power dynamics of the British state this year, make it this one. "
  • "I absolutely loved this book – it’s an era of history about which I knew shamefully little and I found it fascinating. It’s an absolute hand grenade of a book – explosive and shocking – and you can imagine that the Royal Family should be diving for cover! "
  • "...admirably detached and well supported by evidence….an agreeably unsentimental approach to the narrative.  "
    Jonathan Keates
  • "Andrew Lownie’s portrait of the Windsors in exile gives a grotesque account of their greed, petulance and freeloading, and makes a convincing case that in Britain’s darkest hour, Edward was a traitor to his country."
    Daily Mail
  • "this readable, damning synthesis confirms that Edward’s abdication was the free world’s good fortune."
    Wall St Journal
  • "If you enjoy reading about the Royal Family, if you are interested in the story behind the myth, and some really good history then you will want to read this book."
  • "Does anyone want to read yet another book about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor? Perhaps not, but if you tackle this most recent one, there will be no need to read any more on the subject. Among the dozens of biographies, memoirs, diaries, novels, documentaries, interviews, musicals, dramas, and films that have emerged over the last eighty years, none—until Andrew Lownie’s book Traitor King—has fully uncovered the devastating truth of what the two were really up to in their collaboration with Hitler and the Nazi Party. "
    The Criterion
  • "Lownie expertly captures the extravagance (they never travelled with fewer than 73 pieces of luggage), the sense of entitlement, the snobbery, the vanity, the selfpity, the bone-idle laziness, the fundamental uselessness of their lives as outcasts. ‘I never saw a man so bored,’ said one acquaintance. Should this be required reading in a certain household in Montecito, California? "
    Daily Mail History Books of Year
  • "Lownie puts forward a convincing case that the newly created Duke and Duchess of Windsor were not just fascist sympathisers but also actively colluded with the Nazi regime. …‘Traitor King’ is a well-researched book drawing on extensive archives to produce a damning portrait of a truly appalling couple who had no redeeming features whatsoever."
    A Little Blog of Books
  • "  Does anyone want to read yet another book about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor? Perhaps not, but if you tackle this most recent one, there will be no need to read any more on the subject. Among the dozens of biographies, memoirs, diaries, novels, documentaries, interviews, musicals, dramas, and films that have emerged over the last eighty years, none--until Andrew Lownie's book Traitor King--has fully uncovered the devastating truth of what the two were really up to in their collaboration with Hider and the Nazi Party."
    The Free Library
  • "reads like a spy novel…Traitor King is an excellent exposé about a reign that was fortunately cut short because of sexual infatuation and blind love for a woman who “resented the fact that [he] had lost his throne” and did not love him…An essential read, as the Monarchy starts a new chapter in its enduring history"
  • "Both Susan Ronald and Andrew Lownie are dealing with stories of the collaborators of fascism that have been told many times, though both biographers have discovered new sources and write riveting narratives with considerable attention given to the nuances of treason."
    New York Sun