In 1936, the British monarchy faced the greatest threats to its survival in the modern era -- the crisis of abdication and the menace of Nazism. The fate of the country rested in the hands of George V's sorely unequipped sons:
a stammering King George VI, terrified that the world might discover he was unfit to rule
a dull-witted Prince Henry, who wanted only a quiet life in the army
the too-glamorous Prince George, the Duke of Kent -- a reformed hedonist who found new purpose in the RAF and would become the first royal to die in a mysterious plane crash
the Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII, deemed a Nazi-sympathizer and traitor to his own country -- a man who had given it all up for love
Princes at War is a riveting portrait of these four very different men miscast by fate, one of whom had to save the monarchy at a moment when kings and princes from across Europe were washing up on England's shores as the old order was overturned. Scandal and conspiracy swirled around the palace and its courtiers, among them dangerous cousins from across Europe's royal families, gold-digging American socialite Wallis Simpson, and the King's Lord Steward, upon whose estate Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess parachuted (seemingly by coincidence) as London burned under the Luftwaffe's tireless raids.
Deborah Cadbury draws on new research, personal accounts from the royal archives, and other never-before-revealed sources to create a dazzling sequel to The King's Speech and tell the true and thrilling drama of Great Britain at war and of a staggering transformation for its monarchy.
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.