King George V predicted that his eldest son, Edward VIII, would destroy himself within a year of succeeding to the throne. In December 1936 he was proved right, and the world's press broke their Great Silence: King Edward VIII was abandoning his throne to marry Wallis Simpson, a divorced American socialite.
A life spent in the shadow of his charismatic elder brother left the new king, George VI, magnificently unprepared for the demands of ruling the kingdom and empire; this would be a baptism of fire. Hitler's Third Reich was tearing up the old Kingdoms of Europe one by one, and the familiar contours of London were being transformed by sandbags. As Great Britain braced herself for war, the faltering new king struggled to manage internal divisions within the royal family and feared betrayal as intelligence mounted of the Duke and Duchess of Windsors' suspected treachery during the worst days of the war. Drawing on personal accounts from the royal archives and other new sources, Deborah Cadbury goes behind palace doors to uncover the very private conflict between George VI and his too charming older brother; a conflict so bitter it was unresolvable while they were both alive.
Cadbury's intimate and gripping account of familial tensions amongst kings and princes, provides a unique look at one of the most turbulent periods in British history. Overcoming his stammer was only the beginning, and Cadbury goes on to reveal just what it took for George VI to rise to the challenge of leading his country during its time of greatest peril and at what price.
Former BBC television producer Cadbury (Chocolate Wars) provides a thrilling account of the fallout after Prince Edward, heir to the throne, abdicated to marry his American lover as his brother, Prince Albert, became King George VI and attempted to save Europe from Nazi Germany. The outbreak of WWII forced George to set aside qualms with the prickly Winston Churchill and shelter royalty fleeing from invaded countries. Meanwhile, Edward and his wife, now the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, were suspected of collaborating with the enemy, given their former ties to Nazi leadership. Two more brothers also had to find their way in chaotic times: the Duke of Kent, a philandering playboy turned devoted RAF captain, and the Duke of Gloucester, who battled the perception that he had a "lack of spark or intelligence." Cadbury artfully captures the exhilaration of Operation Dynamo at Dunkirk, where citizen volunteers escalated a massive evacuation of British troops, the devastation of the London blitz, and the suspenseful planning and execution of the Normandy invasion. Her nuanced exploration of the king's reticent temperament and the psychic toll taken by his many troubles creates a fuller picture of the man, who was destined to lead during a "spectacular downfall" in British power.