Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Churchill Series - Aug. 6, 2008

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

The last two series posts concerned the abdication crisis in 1936 brought on by King Edward VIII’s determination to marry the twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson.

I've said Churchill "took up the King's cause," but I've avoided saying anything more detailed about Churchill’s role in the crisis because IMO his actions and motives were complex. I don't have sufficient understanding of them to post in any detail concerning them.

What I'll do today and tomorrow is offer a few items I think bear on Churchill's actions and leave it at that.

I'll use a comment a reader made as stimulus to my items with the reader's comment in italics and mine in plain.

Winston Churchill was fanatically loyal to his friends, and to a set of ideas he held about British royalty. His wonderful mind was almost medieval in his fealty to these ideals.

He'd known the King since birth. They were close friends who'd played polo and hunted together. Before Edward became King, Churchill, like the King's family and others of his close friends, called him David when they were together.

As a young officer during WW I David, then Prince of Wales, repeatedly and insistently volunteered to serve in the trenches. The Government denied his requests for fear of the consequences should he be captured.

Despite being denied the chance to serve as a combat officer, David served as a staff officer near the front and frequently visited it at great risk to himself.

Courage was the virtue Churchill most admired in men. And, as the commenter said, "Winston Churchill was fanatically loyal to his friends."

What we've just read provides some of the explanation for why Churchill came very close to wrecking his public career by "taking up the King's cause."

More tomorrow about Churchill and the abdication crisis.