European monarchies, like many powerful capitalists, were strongly supportive of fascism in the early 20th century. This is unsurprising, because fascist regimes wanted to crush communism and expand the empires of colonial Western capitalist states — serving the interests of monarchs and capitalists alike.
The fascist regimes in Italy and Spain, for instance, preserved the monarchy in a kind of symbiotic alliance. In fact, it was Italian King Victor Emmanuel III that put Mussolini in power — preventing the army from stopping the Blackshirts’ 1922 march on Rome, ultimately appointing Mussolini prime minister, and doing nothing to resist Il Duce’s moves to consolidate absolute power — because the monarch recognized that fascism could contain the increasingly powerful communist movement.
Many prominent figures in the British monarchy in particular were likewise supporters of fascism a century ago. Recent media reports on Meghan Markle, of all things, have inadvertently drawn attention to this insidious, yet little-known fact.
On December 23, tabloids and newspapers reported on a bigoted act by Princess Michael of Kent, who is married to the cousin of the British queen. The princess wore racist anti-Black jewelry at the queen’s Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace, where she met Prince Harry’s new fiancée Meghan Markle, whose mother was Black.
Media reports on this incident drew attention to some other unsavory facts about Princess Michael of Kent: Namely that her father was an officer in the genocidal Nazi SS, which helped carry out the Holocaust.
The Guardian reported:
It is not the first time the princess has been accused of racism. In 2004, she reportedly instructed African American customers in a New York restaurant to “go back to the colonies” in an argument about noise.
The princess, whose father was an SS officer, denied the incident a few months later in an interview with ITV, saying: “I even pretended years ago to be an African, a half-caste African, but because of my light eyes I did not get away with it, but I dyed my hair black.
“I had this adventure with these absolutely adorable, special people and to call me racist: it’s a knife through the heart because I really love these people.”
This is rare mainstream admission of the close historical links between European royal families and fascism. And these links go much deeper.
In 2015, the British media published historic video footage of the queen and her mother doing Nazi salutes in 1933. They were encouraged by the queen’s uncle Edward VIII, a notorious Nazi lover who enjoyed a brief stint as king.
After voluntarily abdicating in 1936 in order to marry the American bourgeoise Wallis Simpson, Edward and his new wife took a tour of the Third Reich, where they posed in photos with top Nazi officials, including the Führer himself. Hitler lamented that Edward had stepped down from the throne and settled for his role as the duke of Windsor, calling his abdication “a severe loss for us.”
Royal biographer Andrew Morton said of Edward, in an interview with the BBC: “He was certainly sympathetic… even after the war he thought Hitler was a good fellow and that he’d done a good job in Germany, and he was also anti-Semitic, before, during and after the war.”
And once again, most importantly, fascism was viciously anti-communist and, for the royal and capitalist classes, offered a form of protection from impending socialist revolution.
Of course it was not just the aristocracy in Britain that was partial to fascism. British Prime Minister “Neville Chamberlain was an appeaser whose anticommunism exceeded his distaste for Nazism.” But that is the subject for another piece.