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Bullfilter

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If I was going to do a fascist UK (spoiler alert, I’m not)
That’s a genuine relief! :)
I am warming to Vansittart, and having sketched out the looming Olympics chapter he will feature heavily.
He seems to be a generally good egg - though I’m sure he will find the Nazi’s posturing to be loathsome and galling.
 

Specialist290

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I can't help but think that Mackenzie King's absence is foreshadowing a much bigger break to come with the Canadian government. The Battle of Vimy Ridge on the whole looms too large in the Canadian identity for a token flunky being sent to commemorate it to be taken as anything but a very pointed snub. Canada may be trying to keep the worst of it out of the home press, but being right next to America with our well-known love of juicy celebrity gossip, they're almost certainly seeing firsthand how the King's reputation is undoubtedly being dragged through the mud by the foreign press over the matter.

I agree with you about the Monument itself -- it's very much in line with the general Art Deco style that was popular at the time. Personally, I don't feel that that sort of styling (or at least its execution here) really lends itself all that well to the sensibilities of a war memorial; it's just a bit too colossal, more like it's trying to intimidate you than evoke a somber remembrance of the fallen. (That being said, I'd still certainly pay it a visit were I in the area.)
 
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DensleyBlair

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Personally, I don't feel that that sort of styling (or at least its execution here) really lends itself all that well to the sensibilities of a war memorial; it's just a bit too colossal, more like it's trying to intimidate you than evoke a somber remembrance of the fallen.
There are of course a number of examples of war memorials where this effect is entirely the point. Particularly once the Italian Modernists get involved. And the Soviets. Mythology is usually much more useful, politically speaking, than remembrance.
 

El Pip

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There are of course a number of examples of war memorials where this effect is entirely the point. Particularly once the Italian Modernists get involved. And the Soviets. Mythology is usually much more useful, politically speaking, than remembrance.
The Motherland Calls is indeed an incredibly colossal effort that pretty much only the Soviets would consider a good idea;


The French ossuary at Douaumont is also fairly colossal and from the wrong angle somewhat inappropriate looking, so these things are not confined to modernists or communists;


It's a trite point I'm sure, but it seems the majority of memorials are more about the people who built them than about the people notionally being remembered.
 

DensleyBlair

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The French ossuary at Douaumont is also fairly colossal and from the wrong angle somewhat inappropriate looking, so these things are not confined to modernists or communists;
Naturally I have no wish to absolve the democratic allies of their fair share of the blame for weaponising monuments and memorI also. (I even know someone who’s writing a PhD thesis on the phenomenon in post-Nazi Germany, so you’ll be pleased to know it remains a hot topic in the architecture schools of Britain.)

It's a trite point I'm sure, but it seems the majority of memorials are more about the people who built them than about the people notionally being remembered.
This is the salient point of course, and applicable to far more than just war memorials.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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We built a giant concrete phallus to...er...*looks around for excuse* honour our war dead!

Yeah! Vote meeee!

And then they did.
 
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El Pip

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In fairness to France they could do some memorials that were absolutely spot on. Take the Maginot Memorial;


Even though they only built it in 1935 they still managed to capture the true essence of his legacy - a solid looking wall that was unfortunately a bit too short to do the job required of it.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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In fairness to France they could do some memorials that were absolutely spot on. Take the Maginot Memorial;


Even though they only built it in 1935 they still managed to capture the true essence of his legacy - a solid looking wall that was unfortunately a bit too short to do the job required of it.
I was just thinking that looked like a wall. Bit on the nose?

Anyway, the wall in this case actually did work, so far as the actual plan for it went. The germans went around it as expected.
 

El Pip

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I was just thinking that looked like a wall. Bit on the nose?

Anyway, the wall in this case actually did work, so far as the actual plan for it went. The germans went around it as expected.
Not quite. The German crossing was at Sedan and the French forts opposite were not actually finished (OK the Sedan section was not technically Maginot Line, but that is quibbling). Had they actually finished building that section Sicklecut would not have happened, it was only photo-recon that proved the forts were building sites and not fully operational that convinced von Rundstedt and others to go for it.

If the Germans don't cross at Sedan there is no point going through the Ardennes (Sedan is the only place you can cross that isn't facing a fort) so they have to go further West. Further west is what France actually expected, so no great surprise/shock of the Germans pouring out of the Ardennes and the Allies armies are in the correct position to fight them and maybe France has a chance.

Thus I stand by my comment, the wall was a tiny bit too short to do the job required. Should have got some Polish builders in to finish it off rather than relying on Frenchmen.
 

Le Jones

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1.png


Chapter 34, Downing Street, 29 Jul 1936

“And you say that he drank whisky throughout the trip?”

“Cases of the stuff, Prime Minister,” Neville Chamberlain confirmed, showing a clearly tired Baldwin the relevant chapter of the book. Baldwin, oddly, sniffed the book. Chamberlain did not comment on it; to him, the Prime Minister looked exhausted and seemed to act on instinct only.

1596689958134.png


“I don’t really know Africa,” Baldwin said gruffly, “and you’re not really an Empire man, are you Neville? That was always your father. Your father for the Empire, Austen for Europe, and you dealing with Brum…ah, the complex issues at home.”

Chamberlain hid his irritation at that assumption, seeing that the Prime Minister was clearly exhausted. “I did my time,” he said assuming a suffering, saintly air. “For me it was the Bahamas, six years trying to grow sisal.”

“The rope stuff?”

Chamberlain smiled, pleased to have his Prime Minister’s focussed (as much as Baldwin could focus on anything) attention. He was keen to support Baldwin for what, he had realised, would surely be the old fox’s final crisis. Everyone could see that this Royal saga would be the old man’s last hurrah, that he had ‘breath entire,’ Halifax had warned, ‘for one last gallop, but that is all.’ And then, as the loyal lieutenant, he, Neville Chamberlain, would position himself to be not a contender but the contender. He was also genuinely concerned for Baldwin, as much as he was concerned with anyone beyond his marriage and immediate family, and was frustrated at the Prime Minister’s refusal to share the burden of the King’s marriage with him.

“The same. It failed, but only after six long years away from home.”

“I cannot imagine what that was like.”

Chamberlain paused to think about how to put across, to Baldwin, the heat, the endless bloody steamy heat, the backbreaking work, the lack of European company, the tedium of having nothing to distract him on an evening bar a couple of mouldy books, the panging yearning for home, but he was prevented from continuing this conversation, his first private audience with Baldwin in weeks, by the arrival of Eden and Sir John Simon, the Home Secretary. Both, evidently, had also hoped to catch Baldwin alone and were surprised at one another’s early arrival, as well as Chamberlain’s presence. Eden recovered first (and Chamberlain rued with narrowed eyes, best) and condescendingly patted Chamberlain on the back as he walked past him. In Chamberlain’s speculative Cabinet, Eden had just earned himself India, which Chamberlain believed to be a hopeless venture after which he could he banished forever.

“Sit down, gentlemen,” Baldwin said wearily, wiping rheumy eyes and catching their eagerness to grab his attention through the waves of fatigue. “This Royal business…” he trailed off, shaking his head sadly. Without thinking he patted his tummy.

“Can we assist, Prime Minister,” Chamberlain immediately.

Baldwin, snapped back into alertness, shook his head. “Let’s wait for the full Cabinet,” he appeased Chamberlain with a smile as he settled back into reverie and rubbed his chest absentmindedly. Eden and Chamberlain exchanged knowing ‘a ha’ looks; both wondered if the old man’s end was closer than they had imagined.

The rest of the Cabinet filed in with a bored, disinterested air, in complete contrast to Chamberlain, Eden and Simon. Taking their seats quietly, Hankey scurried around to ensure that the windows were closed, even with the baking heat.

Baldwin gave Hankey a baffled look, and then ‘the penny dropped’ and he nodded his agreement. “Right, before we break for the summer, I wanted a quick discussion of a limited number of issues, and then I will finish up with the latest on my interaction with the Palace. Foreign Secretary?”

Eden stroked his moustache slowly and silkily. “The evacuation of those British and Commonwealth nationals that wished to leave Spain has been completed,” he said grandly. “The Navy has performed exceptionally well,” there was an element of table thumping, and Hoare, the First Lord of the Admiralty, nodded in acknowledgement. “As for the uprising, the rebels now control Morocco, most of the Canary and Balearic Islands, a swathe of territory in the North, and Seville. A loyalist column is reported by our Embassy in Madrid, thanks to a source in Barcelona, to be heading from there to Aragon.” Eden sat back and straightened up, aping Baldwin’s tried and tested methods of commanding by his body language. “There is a troubling element to this conflict; there are rumours that the rebels are seeking, perhaps already receiving, support from Germany and Italy. Portugal is also thought to be cooperating with the insurgents. France was reported to be considering supplying some obsolete airframes to the loyalists although I met with Monsieur Delbos on the margins of the Royal visit to Vimy Ridge; he agrees with our intent to contain this conflagration," he said grandly, "within the Spanish peninsula. Frankly, this has all the hallmarks of a conflict spiralling out of control.”

“I agree,” said Chamberlain, taking notes. Halifax also nodded, as did Simon.

“I’m grateful,” Eden said elegantly, inclining his head. “I propose that we ban sales of arms, and that we push for our international colleagues to do likewise.”

There was no dissent, Baldwin’s gaze sweeping around them all. “Agreed, then. Make sure the French do nothing dramatic,” Baldwin said grumpily.

“How was Monsi, er, that is Monsig, er, Delbos?” That was Halifax, who for all his aristocratic grandeur often came across as a very unworldly man.

“Charming, cooperative, well-informed,” Eden said briskly. “I liked him,” he said with a faint smile. “I have two other, more minor matters. The first is that we have signed the Montreux Convention regulating access into the Black Sea through the Turkish Straits,” Eden said with a smile. “This will, we are confident, stabilise an area of concern in the postwar restructuring. It also reflects our efforts, with our partners, to bring Turkey into the international concert of nations.” He paused, and when there was muted agreement rather sullenly continued. “My second point is an eccentric one. Phipps, our man in Berlin, has cabled to say that a Charles Lindbergh, an American aviator, has arrived for a visit of Germany. The Luftwaffe has invited him for full access to their facilities. Our Embassy will monitor, but it should allow us to corroborate some of what we’re hearing about their rearmament. It may also complicate what is going to be an unorthodox Olympic fortnight,” Eden, finished, looked at Baldwin.

“A ha, er, thank you, Anthony,” Baldwin said tiredly. “Is Van all prepped for Berlin?”

Eden chuckled. “Against his better judgment I detect that he is looking forward to marching into the lion’s den!” Chamberlain scowled but some, including Halifax and Duff-Cooper, laughed at the image.

“Do I need to see him before he departs?” There was a pleading in Baldwin’s tone, that begged Eden for it to be unnecessary.

“No, Prime Minister, if anything he’s the one to brief us.”

Baldwin looked very old and very tired, but now quite relieved. Duff-Cooper and Hoare looked to catch his eye but Chamberlain also looked at Baldwin, clearly eager to speak. “Chancellor?”

“Thank you, Prime Minister. I would like to reassure that Cabinet that, in consultation with the Bank of England, we are in discreet negotiation with the American and French Governments over a financial readjustment. The Foreign Office has been very supportive.” Eden, not used to such praise from the Chancellor, look uncertainly around the table.

Baldwin, aware of the ‘bad blood’ between the young man and the old man, tried to move things along. “Good, good.”

Halifax looked pained, he hated financial matters but didn’t understand what Chamberlain was talking about. “My goodness, Neville, I’m not sure that I quite follow…”

“…the French need our support, and that of the Americans,” he said ‘Americans’ with his usual disdain. “They’re wedded to gold, addicted to it if you believe Sir Warren Fisher, frankly need to devalue, and are also contemplating what the second rate economies will do if they take action.”

“Who are the second wate economies?”

“Belgium, the Dutch,” Chamberlain suggested with a faintly dismissive shrug. “I anticipate we’ll be in a position to outline what we’ve done after the summer recess.”

“That’ll do him?” Baldwin peered at Halifax, who looked not unlike a badly prepared pupil sitting a fiendish physics examination.

“Er, well, a ha,” Halifax said with as much dignity as he could muster.

Chamberlain, like a benevolent regional bank manager, sat with hands clasped before him and a chillingly emotionless smile. “I would also like to advert, if I may, to you that I can reassure you that the outbreak of hostilities will not have a significant financial impact upon the Exchequer.” He smiled his thin smile, “and that’s all, Prime Minister.”

“Hostilities?” That was Duff-Cooper, saving a confused Halifax from further embarrassment.

“Why yes,” Chamberlain, still reptilian agreeableness, said in a warm tone. “The Spanish hostilities.”

Duff-Cooper rolled his eyes, “Well then say it. I’m good, Neville, but even I couldn’t divine that.”

A polite cough from Sir John Simon, the ‘big beast’ so far not really engaged, ended further argument. Baldwin nodded and then waited until he had their full attention. He closed his eyes.

"Pwime Minister?" Halifax was utterly, totally baffled.

“Gentlemen, As I briefed you last week, I have, for some time, been wrestling with the issue of His Majesty and his declared intention to marry Mrs Simpson.” He sighed, seeming to sag into his chair, before angrily waving away a glass of water offered by Chamberlain, fussing prissily next to him. “I informed you a few weeks ago that the King had declared to me his intent to marry Mrs Simpson, and that I foresaw legal, constitutional and ecclesiastical objections to such a marriage. After our discussion, with Ramsay here, I briefed Attlee and Sinclair.” Ramsay MacDonald was pathetically pleased to be included, and offered a supportive smile to Baldwin. “I then wrote to the Dominion Prime Ministers, as well as the Viceroy, on the state of my ongoing difficulties with the King and the options, as I saw them, for proceeding with this matter.”

"They've replied? Thank God," Simon said emphatically.

Baldwin paused as he relented and sipped on the water. “Better, much better. Thank you, Neville, such a support.”

“Not at all, Prime Minister, whatever I can do, I shall,” Chamberlain’s gaze swept across the rest of the Cabinet. The message was clear, the threat obvious.

Baldwin coughed into a handkerchief and after another sip of water took a deep breath. “When I wrote to the Dominions I offered, as I saw it, three potential outcomes for the resolution of this situation. These were, firstly, a conventional marriage. Mrs Simpson becomes Queen of England, and their children,”

“Assuming they have any,” Duff-Cooper said quickly. “We forget their ages. Not fair to assume the impossible.” He looked at Chamberlain, perhaps knowing his likely fate in a Chamberlain cabinet. “Back to divining, y’see,” he said cheekily.

“Yes yes,” Baldwin said testily, “their children would inherit the Crown and titles. Second, that they marry, but she does not become Queen, and is, instead, offered some form of courtesy honour. Duchess of Cornwall, or perhaps Albany. The term for this is a morganatic marriage. The key attraction to this is that any children will not join the line of succession.” He paused, looking slowly around the room. Duff-Cooper was smouldering quietly in his corner.

“The final option is that King Edward abdicates on his and his children’s behalf, allowing him to make whatever matrimonial arrangements that he wishes. Now clearly, under this third option, we must now consider the impact upon the Duke of York and his family, as he would be the logical choice to inherit the throne. Lord Halifax, I am grateful to you for your work in counselling Prince Albert. Thank you, Edward,” Halifax inclined his domed head. Chamberlain, sensing that the Cabinet was grateful for Halifax taking that most thankless of tasks from them, condescended to smile.

Oliver Stanley coughed. “Prime Minister,” the President of the Board of Education said politely, “could I ask if a morganatic marriage would be legally enforceable. I mean,” he clarified, “if Mrs Simpson marries His Majesty, what is to stop a foreign nation during a state visit treating her as the Queen of England? Which, but for a peace of paper, she would be.” There were murmurs of agreement at this, Ramsay MacDonald muttering his agreement with the point. “And what if they produced a son? Are we saying that a healthy male child, of a legal marriage and of Windsor blood, would be disadvantaged in favour of Princess Elizabeth? We risk confusing the line of succession, do we not?”

Baldwin was bored and raised a hand to stop Stanley’s flow. “I understand your argument, Oliver, I do. For what it’s worth I view the morganatic notion as being fundamentally flawed.”

“A non-starter?” That was Hoare, who had been measuring the atmosphere as carefully as Eden or Chamberlain, and looking perturbed. Sensing that not everyone was yet with Baldwin, he ventured a question of his own. “I know that His Majesty has undertaken to enforce the requirements. Are we really saying we don't believe him?” Baldwin was annoyed at Hoare deliberately forcing him to acknowledge his doubts about the King’s integrity.

Chamberlain coughed pointedly. “Perhaps if the Prime Minister could finish,” he said with a patronising air.

“Thank you, Neville. The Dominions, and the Viceroy, all, largely, believe that choice one is unfeasible, and that option two is impractical.”

“Largely?” That was Hoare, again. Duff-Cooper was visibly alert at this element of the conversation.

“Canada, Australia, South Africa and the Irish Free State. Savage in New Zealand is amenable to a morganatic marriage, if a formula that made this practicable could be found. The Viceroy of India expressed concerns at how this would be explained to the princely states, and the effect upon British prestige”.

1596690772933.png


“A very, very astute observation,” the India Secretary, Marquess Zetland, said with a professorial air, helped by steel-rimmed spectacles and a lofty demeanour. The way he rolled the ‘r’ in ‘very’ was impressive. “Much of our prestige rests on the spectacle of British power, this presents us in a tawdry light. The magnificence of the British Raj must be preserved.” Halifax, a former Viceroy, nodded sadly.

Baldwin looked up from the pile of letters before him. “Thank you, Lord Zetland.”

1596690877256.png


“Prime Minister,” the Secretary of the State for the Colonies, William Ormsby-Gore, began, “do we know, within their capitals, who the Dominion Prime Ministers consulted?”

Baldwin nodded. “It’s a good point, William, Malcolm, Anthony, what have you heard?”

The Dominions Secretary, in whose portfolio the question really fell, was Malcolm MacDonald, son of Ramsay. He was a young, dark haired, almost swarthy figure, with his father's quite heavy features. “It is a good question and I would be frank with you. The boat has sailed on secrecy in the Commonwealth, it is being freely discussed in the Dominions, to give one example, I know that the Governor General of Canada is about to write again to His Majesty, who knows how many junior ministers and civil servants know more about the Wallis situation than our own ministers.”

Baldwin smiled sadly. “And that, gentlemen, is the point. We have carefully secured the understanding of the newspapers, and of course the BBC, that to publish details of His Majesty’s relationship is not in the national interest. But, all it takes is one proprietor to change his mind and we will cede control of this matter.”

“Beaverbwook”, Halifax said in half-murmur, looking thoroughly uncomfortable.

“Yes, Edward, Beaverbrook. He is due to call on His Majesty in the next couple of weeks.”

Ormsby-Gore pulled a surprised expression. “How do you know that?”

Baldwin exchanged a brief look with Sir John Simon, the Home Secretary. “Tell him,” Baldwin ordered, his eye twitching.

Sir John Simon, a bitingly unpopular minister who nevertheless seemed politically indestructible, cleared his throat and in his austere, humourless voice he offered a careful explanation. He had, a few days ago, endured a frankly unruly debate in the Commons over the Government’s proposed unemployment assistance programme. Simon had tried, forlornly, and in his whiney, nannyish way, to argue that children should support their parents when he had been heckled on the King not supporting his mother (this had been judiciously stricken from HANSARD) and accused of lying and behaviour of a scoundrel. Knowing that many around the table felt that his behaviour had unnecessarily attracted negative attention to the Government, he tried to speak with authority. “We are monitoring key telephone lines to be, forewarned, of any threats to national security.”

1596691155670.png


“You’re tapping the lines!” That was Duff-Cooper in a yelp of excitement, shaking his head. Next to him, Hoare looked uncomfortable, as well he might; his interaction with the King would likely be as controversial as Duff-Cooper's and both wondered what Simon, and by implication Baldwin and Hankey now knew about them. Halifax had assumed a disappointed air as soon as they had started discussing Mrs Simpson but now looked downright unwell.

Baldwin looked at his Cabinet with a firm eye. “We know that the King consorts with some distasteful types. We know that Lloyd George calls upon him, Winston in all likelihood too."

"But," Halifax said, not really following, "we are his advisors."

"It would seem not, Edward," Baldwin said with forced levity, earning chuckles from the junior members.

"Mosley?" That was Eden.

Baldwin didn't answer but looked to Simon, whose Home Office brief covered the far right and left of British politics. "One must," he said primly, "be balanced an fair in this..."

"...fat chance of that," Duff-Cooper said in half whisper, half shout. Halifax pretended not to hear, Hoare laughed, and Chamberlain scowled.

"As I began, one must be balanced, and one must rely upon the evidence. Despite muttering that His Majesty enjoys the support of Mosley, allegedly, and some of the more erratic types in our domestic politics," he said with a patronising air, "there is no evidence of this."

"I am inclined to agree," Stanley said with his air of perpetual confusion. "If the restrictions are working then Mosley cannot know. If they're not, then..."

"...quite so," Baldwin, bored and tired, interrupted. "Sir John? Can we please move on?"

"As I was attempting to, Prime Minister," Simon said in his insufferable way, "while we may all, privately, believe that there are some who would make merry with the King's intransigence and our difficulty, there is no evidence, yet, of anything being firmly in place."

"Good," Duff-Cooper, showing more relief than was probably necessary, said with passion.

"Is it!" Baldwin's patience snapped with Duff-Cooper, who was still nodding. “Or are you telling me that you’re pleased that the King has, apparently, embarked upon something that might get the backing of Oswald Mosely?” That stopped Duff-Cooper, but the Cabinet was surprised as the Prime Minister’s loss of control.

Chamberlain placed a hand on Baldwin's arm. "I'm not sure," he said gently, "that that's what was being said."

“Who authorised this?” Duff-Cooper, it seemed, wasn’t letting go.

“Sir John, here,” Baldwin looked at the Home Secretary, “presented it to me. I used my prerogative powers to approve the request.”

“Your royal prerogative powers,” Duff-Cooper said with incredulity.

“The irony is not lost on us, Alfred,” Baldwin said equably, “but it is in the national interest.”

Sensing that the debate was exhausted, Baldwin nodded to Hankey. “Gentlemen, I seek your approval to make a final overture to His Majesty. I will wield the consensus of the Dominion leaders, and I will offer him my interpretation of this impasse. But if, as I believe he will, His Majesty insists upon marrying Mrs Simpson, even with his concession that it would be a morganatic marriage, what should we then do? Do, as some would argue, we go back to the Dominions and attempt to balance his Majesty’s interests with those of the Commonwealth? Do we relent, and steer through legislation to ease his progress? Even with the implications upon the Dominions? Do we resign, as I now argue to you that I believe that we must?”

Chamberlain had listened carefully to all of the debate. “Might I ask how the Opposition has approached this?”

“Attlee is clever, but he is not a schemer. He is under fire from Morrison and some of his close circle to make more of my, our, troubles at this hour, but he has heartened me with his his clear agreement. I would wish that I could say the same of Sinclair for the Liberals.” A few eyes alighted on Simon as a National Liberal. "But they lack the Parliamentary support to be anything other than a nuisance."

“So,” Chamberlain earnestly persisted, “there is no risk of a Labour Government, perhaps readmitting the National Labour members, forming an alternative administration?”

"Not unless they, ah, borrow a couple of hundred of our people!" That was Eden, breaking the tension with his levity.

“No, Neville, there is not.” Baldwin was testy again, impatient with this endless discussion; his temper was ebbing and flowing, like the tide in a storm. “Attlee is pressing ahead with a visit to Russia, something cooked up with their Embassy here. Anthony and I have agreed that it will defuse the potential for a rival national figure to cause trouble by having him out of the country. With Attlee and Sinclair standing with us, or at least not against us, I think that I have succeeded in uniting most of the Commons against the King’s insistence of a Wallis Simpson marriage. So,” he said quickly, keen to get resolution, “I will go once last time to see him. I will confront him with the strength of Commonwealth feeling against the marriage. But do we still agree that a morganatic marriage is not feasible?”

Halifax nodded stiffly, his long neck and head not unlike a dockyard crane. Ramsay MacDonald also nodded sadly.

“The Crown of England is the strongest tie that binds us to the Commonwealth,” Eden, who had been quiet, said grandly. “I agree, Prime Minister.”

“Having heard the response of the Dominions, I agree with Anthony,” Malcom MacDonald said quietly.

Stanley, Zetland, Hailsham, Simon and Ormsby-Gore all gave support. Swinton seemed uncomfortable, as did Walter Elliot, but they both eventually acquiesced. Baldwin ignored Kingsley Wood and Runciman, they had barely said a word throughout the meeting. Hoare looked awkward but Baldwin took his half nod as support. Seeing that Duff-Cooper was holding out, Baldwin looked at Chamberlain; they both then glared at the War Secretary.

“You should attempt to find a way out of this agreeable to both sides,” Duff-Cooper said in a wounded tone.

“I will, but do you agree that a morganatic marriage is out?”

“I’m, I’m not sure that I agree,” Duff-Cooper said hesitantly. Baldwin and Chamberlain both tensed, Halifax closed his eyes.

“Alright, Alfred, let’s discuss it later, with the Cabinet Secretary,” Baldwin said evasively. Hankey and Chamberlain both looked disappointed at Baldwin’s failure to press home the issue, but Eden, who understood Duff-Cooper more than the older men, knew that Baldwin was desperately trying to avoid an embarrassing Cabinet resignation, if indeed Duff-Cooper was holding out for that. Baldwin, normally so wry, so canny, sighed huffily, had performed badly today and now sagged, relenting. “Can you at least see the difficulties that the morganatic marriage would present us?”

“I do,” Duff-Cooper said flatly, “but I would want your approach to His Majesty to be less confrontational than has been suggested. He may, with Walter Monckton, present you with another option.”

It was a compromise, and one which Baldwin privately knew would be impossible, but could preserve Cabinet integrity at this stage. Baldwin chose his words for the next question carefully, deliberately skipping at least one of the interim questions.

“And, with that agreed, if His Majesty persevered, after further consultation between us, with a marriage against the recommendation of this Government and its Dominion colleagues, would we be prepared to resign as a Government?” It was a much more caveated, conditional question than the one initially put.

The murmurs of assent were sufficient for Baldwin, Hankey raising an eyebrow as the Prime Minister did not, as was usual, go around the table.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

GAME NOTES

I've been mulling how to do this, and I now firmly believe that we have reached the end...

...of Part One. This feels like a Rubicon moment, the first time in which the Cabinet has been arrayed against the King. With this done I'll fiddle with the Parts and actually add a cast list (nicking @stnylan's initiative in his masterful AAR) as we draw breath. This is, in many ways, the 'will they / won't they' moment of the first part, and we have much to chew over.

The real world stuff first, Spain rumbles on largely per OTL, although with the Cabinet being engulfed with the King I am genuinely unsure as to how much further progress can be reached by Eden; I'll explore this as the crisis explodes but this update, with its successful confirmation of the Franco-British agreement on non-intervention and the signing of the Montreux Convention (I've mentioned this before, it's the one that regulates warship movements through the Turkish Straits) should perhaps be seen as the 'high water mark' of Eden's slightly 18th century style of diplomacy. He of course remains the 'film star' of the Cabinet although as Britain turns in on itself to deal with this constitutional calamity he may be at a disadvantage; as Baldwin clumsily understands, Neville is the master of domestic policy in a way that Eden is not. He will also be stymied in his efforts to get anything done internationally; I just cannot see how he will get much more done going forward, particularly with his Permanent Under Secretary about to sail for Germany (the Olympics will form the focus of the next update).

Chamberlain alludes, in his own vain, fussy way, to the work being done to secure what we would know as the Tripartite Agreement of 1936. I will cover this, (actually I'll cover whether Chamberlain and the Treasury can get this done with all of the domestic chaos bursting forth) in a later update, but in summary here the agreement was entered into by France, the United States and Great Britain and helped stabilize their nations’ currencies both at the domestic levels and in the international exchange market platform. More coming up, but Chamberlain and Fisher, despite support from the diplomats, appear to have largely just ploughed on with minimal Cabinet scrutiny (certainly I can find only fleeting references to it from anyone not of the Treasury). Chamberlain's 'Head Boy' approach continues, perhaps even gets worse, as Baldwin's obvious incapacity reveals itself more overtly. I love the picture of Baldwin and Chamberlain, it does much dispel their images of a tired schemer (Baldwin) and a simpering, petulant (schemer) appeaser. The book quoted was Journey Without Maps by Graham Greene. It seems like the sort of random publication that someone like Chamberlain would use to divert Baldwin from domestic woes, and I again wanted to ‘get under the skin’ of Chamberlain a bit. As we have seen he is a politician that one can, with distaste, respect, even understand, but not like or admire. His crushing vanity, and overweening arrogance led him, his Cabinet and his country to disaster in the real timelines and here he is rather nastily trying to take over from Baldwin. But, an above average politician, he was a decent Chancellor and might have gone down in history as an uninspiring if safe domestic politician, but for his almost presidential conduct of appeasement in ‘37 – 39. In much the same manner as Halifax, he came to a clear awareness of what he was dealing with far (far far far!) too late, and was already emotionally defeated when war eventually came. The bit about his exploits in Andros are true, and are perhaps not as well known as they ought to be; Chamberlain was not particularly forthcoming about it but I ventured that he would use it here as the heir apparent to Baldwin, to further their relationship as the Prime Minister so obviously wobbles.

I have also tried to look at some of the other characters in the Cabinet; Halifax perhaps gets a 'raw deal', but he was, really, as hopeless on financial matters as I've suggested. Chamberlain was rude to him, quite dramatically, on a couple of occasions when fiscal business was discussed so I am confident that he would be as unpleasant as I have suggested here. Oliver Stanley, Ormsby-Gore and the Marquess of Zetland get their first real moments in the sun; Stanley is one of the great 'nearly men' of British politics and has the air of a Portillo or Hilary Benn to him, a potential future leader in waiting who just never really got there. Ormsby-Gore is as dull as I've suggested, and I confess to 'dialling up' Zetland's foibles slightly, to make him more interesting. But at its heart this is a story of two camps. The Baldwin, Chamberlain, Simon axis (around which most of the Cabinet will form) and the outliers; Duff-Cooper is the obvious candidate holding out for a more measured approach to the King, but I'm suggesting that 'Slippery Sam' is not yet decided upon his loyalty; there may be others, too. Baldwin has, much as he did in the real 1936, mustered his Cabinet far too late in the day and many have already been involved with either Baldwin and his attempts to defuse (notably Halifax in this AAR) or the King (Hoare and Duff-Cooper most evidently); this makes achieving Cabinet unity that much more of a challenge.

The Dominions are also crucial to this story, and get a reasonably close to realistic portrayal; I've more or less gone along with the original timeline, adding, for HOI4 reasons, India (which is inexplicably treated as a Dominion for the Abdication events) and the Viceroy's concerns (this will be important going forward). Baldwin now has a (more or less - this is not yet important, but could be) united Empire and a (again more or less) united Cabinet with which to resist the King. We're at the point of no return...

Edit: to be clear, I didn't find the update dull - I thought the contrast was an effect you were intending.
Thank you for the PM - you're a gent.

It's an interesting question, given that you'd assume a lot, and that there'd be a lot of ptsd and horror of war type stuff going on one side, whilst others want nothing more than to do it again 'properly' this time.
Eden definitely had an odd relationship with his Great War memories, and I suspect that Attlee's brisk 'yep, let's move on' approach papers over some pretty deep cracks. Weirdly, it seems to have a disproportionately great impact on a man who never served - Chamberlain. His letters to his sisters (and that's not creepy at all) are littered with apocalyptic references to the trenches.

Cooper's defusing quipping, I feel, might need to be deployed quite a bit in the coming months. You do get the sense of a man doing a minuette through a minefield though. Self-aware.
He is, and has gone from being 'supporting cast' to very much at the fore of the story. He has some interesting times ahead.

Also you never need to apologise for tortured allo allow style puns based on the French accent! At least not to this reader.
Given the 'wall to wall' misery of the Simpson saga I wanted some levity!

The king always seems to have a gift for 'commoners' when he can be bothered. And the quipping to overcome (sometimes miserably impossible) social awkwardness at poltical gatherings is well worn civil service practice, even if the higher ups like to pretend they of course never did it in their time in the trenches.
I'm so far avoiding the infamous 'something must be done' incident as a) it happened in late '36, and we're already far further down the crisis and b) I am torn, but am close to concluding that he didn't mean it quite as it was interpreted.

Yvon Delbos inadvertently hit the nail on the head. If Edward VIII was more like his namesake Dirty Bertie VII then this crisis wouldn't be happening. Wallace would be the royal mistress and some continental princess would take one for the dynasty by becoming Queen Consort on the understanding it was very much not a love match. But alas Eddie VIII does seem the type who would find the concept of the Siege d'amour distasteful so he could match up to the legacy of his predecessor. (Link probably NSFW if I'm honest, top hat not withstanding).
I had to wheel in a Frenchman to make the obvious point, didn't I! You're right though, and this perhaps explains the French incredulity to the whole affair.

Coming next Fall...

"TREES!"

A groundbreaking new series on the dangers of finance.

"Er...Francis, where 'as all de money gone?"

Heads will roll in the new phenomenon that is:

L'or, L'or!

"You British FUCKS!"

Waving the white flag, November 2021
Subbed. If it ever gets made. ;)

An entertaining cast of characters all round in this interlude, actually. The Canadian contingent is unbearable, but does give me some faith that my own wafer-thin treatment of a royalist Canada is not without basis in plausibility.
The Canadian leaders of the period are just a mediocre bunch, of that I am confident. The irony, of course, is that with his Alberta ranch (which he seemed to genuinely enjoy) Canada is the Dominion most appeased (!) by Edward.

He seems to be a generally good egg - though I’m sure he will find the Nazi’s posturing to be loathsome and galling.
We'll find out next chapter...

I can't help but think that Mackenzie King's absence is foreshadowing a much bigger break to come with the Canadian government. The Battle of Vimy Ridge on the whole looms too large in the Canadian identity for a token flunky being sent to commemorate it to be taken as anything but a very pointed snub. Canada may be trying to keep the worst of it out of the home press, but being right next to America with our well-known love of juicy celebrity gossip, they're almost certainly seeing firsthand how the King's reputation is undoubtedly being dragged through the mud by the foreign press over the matter.
Well it's almost precisely what happened in the real 1936, but there may have been more than just domestic Canadian sensitivities at play here.

There are of course a number of examples of war memorials where this effect is entirely the point. Particularly once the Italian Modernists get involved. And the Soviets. Mythology is usually much more useful, politically speaking, than remembrance.
The French ossuary at Douaumont is also fairly colossal and from the wrong angle somewhat inappropriate looking, so these things are not confined to modernists or communists;

It's a trite point I'm sure, but it seems the majority of memorials are more about the people who built them than about the people notionally being remembered.
Naturally I have no wish to absolve the democratic allies of their fair share of the blame for weaponising monuments and memorI also. (I even know someone who’s writing a PhD thesis on the phenomenon in post-Nazi Germany, so you’ll be pleased to know it remains a hot topic in the architecture schools of Britain.)

This is the salient point of course, and applicable to far more than just war memorials.
We built a giant concrete phallus to...er...*looks around for excuse* honour our war dead!
In fairness to France they could do some memorials that were absolutely spot on. Take the Maginot Memorial;

Even though they only built it in 1935 they still managed to capture the true essence of his legacy - a solid looking wall that was unfortunately a bit too short to do the job required of it.
I was just thinking that looked like a wall. Bit on the nose?

Anyway, the wall in this case actually did work, so far as the actual plan for it went. The germans went around it as expected.
Thus I stand by my comment, the wall was a tiny bit too short to do the job required. Should have got some Polish builders in to finish it off rather than relying on Frenchmen.
So, to "monument-gate".

I'm not a fan - I get the need for some statues of (carefully vetted) old figures, but I'm with the rest of the crowd, here, monuments, particularly of this period, should focus more on the people being commemorated than the ego of the architect (@DensleyBlair - I'm looking to you for sanity).

BTW - I used to, in my Hampshire days, have this almost literally on my doorstep:

1596694873451.png
 
Last edited:

stnylan

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Meetings with so many people are always so tricky to write - having to make sure the reader can keep track of who is saying what, and who is reacting - but this is very well constructed. It does help we tend to focus on a few particular invidivuals, but even so, well done on a very clear presentation.

Baldwin may be PM, but from the point of view of me as a reader this is very much Neville's show. He is everywhere, and people react to him more than Baldwin. I do wonder if he may be overplaying his hand - his apparent brazen-ness seems more American than British, just the sort of behaviour to rile others up. Of course, it is hard to see where the likely opposition would be. Even opponents might wish him to endure what they believe could be a poisoned chalice, especially if Baldwin is forced to whilst the consequences of this matter rumble on.

Also, I have to presume the choice of words in this line was deliberate: "he appeased Chamberlain with a smile " - it certainly brought a smile to my face.
 

Cromwell

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I'm glad you pointed that out Stnylan, I am ashamed to admit the play on words wooshed over my head in first reading. Lord knows how. o_O
 

TheButterflyComposer

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“I don’t really know Africa,” Baldwin said gruffly, “and you’re not really an Empire man, are you Neville?
The fate of empires rest on unworthy heads...

In Chamberlain’s speculative Cabinet, Eden had just earned himself India, which Chamberlain believed to be a hopeless venture after which he could he banished forever.
Petty little tyrant.

both wondered if the old man’s end was closer than they had imagined.
It is very difficult to relax when everyone at the table is trying to eat you. Or lovingly lick you, in Chamberlain's case.

“Not at all, Prime Minister, whatever I can do, I shall,” Chamberlain’s gaze swept across the rest of the Cabinet. The message was clear, the threat obvious.
lickity lick lick

Subbed. If it ever gets made. ;)
I have given myself a year. Far too optimistic.
 

DensleyBlair

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I do not envy Baldwin one bit. After a brief resurgence he seems once again a thoroughly defeated man, and Chamberlain is being more than a little obnoxious in trying to capitalise on it while not appearing too obvious. He truly is coming across as a grubby little coat-tail rider. Are you sure there's no prospect of Chamberlain accidentally doing himself a grief while shaving and Stanley being elevated as a compromise candidate? :p
 

TheButterflyComposer

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I do not envy Baldwin one bit. After a brief resurgence he seems once again a thoroughly defeated man, and Chamberlain is being more than a little obnoxious in trying to capitalise on it while not appearing too obvious. He truly is coming across as a grubby little coat-tail rider. Are you sure there's no prospect of Chamberlain accidentally doing himself a grief while shaving and Stanley being elevated as a compromise candidate? :p
Slippery slope time! Arranging for the accident of Simpson and Chamberlain dying tragic and drawn out deaths would be nice but would lead to someone like Churchill going too far with it and murdering all the enemies of the state.
 

Bullfilter

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Poor Baldwin, a short rest was never going to cure his underlying decline for long. The old bull is gradually falling back from the herd, trudging on more from instinct now. He will soon keel over and become food for the carrion crawlers. :( On a story note, his departure from the scene will have as big (or bigger) an impact on the narrative than external game events will, at least until 1939 (if indeed that remains the point of conflagration in this run).

But first there is a royal crisis to plough through and as you imply, we come to the steepest part of the slippery slope. It will do Baldwin in, one suspects. The key question of course is how will it fall out and will the outcome be significantly different to OTL. The ‘so what’ being the denouement’s effect on the Empire/Commonwealth and Britain’s ability to weather the coming storm.
 

BigBadBob

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Austen was the only good Chamberlain, and even then it required daddy going six feet under for him to become so.

It certainly looks like push is about to come to shove. For everyone's sake, I hope Edward realises the jig is up.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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Austen was the only good Chamberlain, and even then it required daddy going six feet under for him to become so.

It certainly looks like push is about to come to shove. For everyone's sake, I hope Edward realises the jig is up.
I hope he blows his brains out to be honest. Him sticking around in Amercia was a nightmare for everyone and it's still up for debate how much of a nazi collaborator he was.

Honourably taking his licks and living quietly somewhere in Canada is the best we can hope for, and honestly I would not fault the goverment for arranging an accidental drowning on his yacht type occurrence for him and his wife.