Andros and Abdication
The Politician and the King
Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Empire, and Emperor of India, from 20 January 1936 until his abdication on 11 December of that year. Neville Chamberlain was British prime minister between 1937 and 1940, and is closely associated with the policy of appeasement towards Nazi Germany.
Chamberlain, already established in a previous post as having ties to the island of Andros in The Bahamas, is believed to have had a significant role in the 1936 abdication crisis. He wrote in his diary that Wallis Simpson, an American, divorcee socialite and Edward VIII's intended wife, was "an entirely unscrupulous woman who is not in love with the King but is exploiting him for her own purposes. She has already ruined him in money and jewels ...". In common with the rest of the Cabinet, he agreed with current Prime Minister Baldwin that the King should abdicate if he married Simpson. On the 6th of December, Neville Chamberlain and Prime Minister Baldwin both stressed that King Edward should make his decision before Christmas.
The King abdicated on 10 December 1936, four days after the meeting. On 28 May 1947, two weeks after the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, Baldwin resigned, advising the King to send for Neville Chamberlain to become the next Prime Minister.
Chamberlain is best known for his foreign policy of appeasement, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the German-speaking Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany. When Adolf Hitler invaded Poland, the UK declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, and Chamberlain led Britain through the first eight months of the Second World War.
The Politician and the Billionaire
In 1939, Axel Wenner-Gren, a Swede with residence in The Bahamas, met with Nazi Field Marshall Hermann Göering, (whose first wife was also a Swede). Göring was one of the most powerful figures in the Nazi regime, and the creator of the Gestapo. Wenner-Gren met with his friend Goring and then flew to London to meet with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin, in what was assumed to be an attempt to broker some sort of appeasement deal between Britain and Nazi Germany. On 10 June 1939, Wenner-Gren reported back to Göering what was discussed with Chamberlin. Any peace negotiations or talks that may have transpired between the men all came to naught when Hitler invaded Poland, setting off World War II in September, 1939.
The making of a Governor General
Edward Windsor was sent to the Bahamas as governor in 1940, where he resided at a Sigrist House, in Cable Beach, built in 1930 by Mr Frederick Sigrist, (a British aviation pioneer and his daughter was married to Thunderball movie producer, Kevin McClory). The Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson became inseparable friends with Wenner-Gren and his wife Marguerite. Wenner-Gren was a multi-millionare a hundred times over, and the exiled Duke of Windsor was forced to live on a budget that was a mere fraction of what would have been afforded to him as king. The Windsor’s came to a hot, underdeveloped island with no friends and few allies. The Windsors found both in the rich industrialist, Axel Wenner-Gren.
The Governor and the Billionaire
By 1942 under pressure by the British and the Americans, the Governor was forced not only to cut ties with his friend Wenner-Gren for appearances sake, he was also forced to sign an order seizing seven companies, all of them Bahamas registered companies.
Wenner-Gren was issued the ban from the Bahamas while he was visiting Mexico on his yacht. He spent the rest of World War II in exile in Mexico. Under the cloak of secrecy it is said Wenner-Gren would sneak into the Bahamas via Norman’s Cay in the Exumas to meet with the Governor and his wife.
After the war, Wenner-Gren returned to the Bahamas and, among other things, invested in property on the island of Andros, with the ANDROS-BAHAMAS DEVELOPMENT CO. The Swede's connection to the Nazis was minimised, saying Wenner-Gren himself had exaggerated his relationship with men such as Air Marshal Hermann Goering.
SS SOUTHERN CROSS
American business man Howard Hughes bought the deceased Lord Inchcape's steam ship Rover site unseen and renamed her Southern Cross. She was subsequently sold to Swedish entrepreneur Axel Wenner-Gren, under whose ownership she helped rescue survivors from the SS Athenia, the first ship to be sunk by Nazi Germany during World War II. The Southern Cross was long suspect vessel to American observers. They noted she was often on hand to rescue passengers from torpedoed ships. Charges were made that Southern Cross was a fuelling station for Nazi submarines.
The Stories of the Politician live on…
Whisky Galore! is a 2016 British film, a remake of the 1949 comedy of the same name. A romanticized version of the true events surrounding the SS Politician. The SS Cabinet Minister (1943) was carrying 50,000 cases of Scotch whisky en-route to America via The Bahamas when she ran aground affording the Scottish islanders the opportunity to get their hands on the "water of life”. Onboard, and more valuable than the whiskey, is a top secret red leather case, which is said to contain documents that comprised of love letters written by the Duke of Windsor to his wife Wallis Simpson. In the film, the Duke is considered an embarrassment to the Establishment due to his undisguised admiration for Hitler and Nazism.
From one Governor General to another
The number of books and publications regarding the Windsor’s love affair and their 5 years in the Bahamas is vast. And each appear to be a biased account by their authors. Most recently, Sir Orville Turnquest, former Governor General of The Bahamas, published his well researched version. “What Manner of Man is This, The Duke of Windsor’s Years in The Bahamas” takes an historical lens to the Duke’s governance and impact on the fledgling colony, a departure from tomes written about the controversial royal couple.