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Feather's Miscellany: Edward - Act 3, Scene 2

Here is Scene 2 of the Third Act of John Waddington-Feather's gripping and highly readable play about a crisis in British affairs of State.

Time: March 1936.
Place: Prime Ministerís Office. Baldwin is consulting with his Foreign
Office Minister, Anthony Eden.

Baldwin: I must admit, Eden, Iím in a quandary. Do we let the new King see
confidential state papers, or do we keep him in the dark? What do you think?

Eden: I suggest, sir, we donít let him have access to them at all. I have it on
good authority that His Majesty and the people he mixes with
are rather too close to Herr Hitler for comfort. Itís even been rumoured he
wants some sort of alliance with the Germans.

Baldwin: Iíd heard a whisper along those lines, too, but dammit heís King, and his
father was always kept up-to-date with whatís happening.

Eden: The late King was happily married and discreet.

Baldwin: Thatís the rub, Eden. It always comes back to the Simpson woman. The
King is besotted with her, and thatís bad enough, but itís her friendship with
the German ambassador, Ribbentrop, I fear most. I wouldnít trust that
little toady no more than I can see him.

Eden: Heís the ears and eyes of Hitler over here and heíll smooth his way into
any company to find out whatís going on, and I have it on good authority
heís very well in with Mrs Simpson and her set.

Baldwin: The American ambassador finds her a great embarrassment, too, so whatís to
be done?

Eden: Best to play safe, sir, and show the King only harmless stuff. We canít
risk state secrets, especially those concerning the armed forces, being leaked
to Hitler.

Baldwin: The Americans were livid when they discovered their military codes
had found their way to Italy and were being used by the Italians
in Abysinnia. And if Mussolini had them you can bet theyíve found their
way to Hitler. He and Mussolini are working hand in glove.

Eden: Iím bringing up the fact that the Italians used mustard gas against
the Abyssinians at the next session of the League of Nations.
Theyíre violating the Geneva Convention left right and centre and, I suspect,
so are the Germans in their concentration camps.

Baldwin: The Fascists will stop at nothing to gain their own ends. Now that heís
taken the Rhineland, Hitlerís blandly proposing a new peace treaty, but heís
kidding no one. Heís re-arming Germany like mad now heís got his hands
on the industrial Ruhr. Heís simply playing for time before he lights the
fuse to a new war in Europe, and if weíre not careful the whole thing
will blow up in our faces.

Eden: Herr Hitler certainly calls the tunes now in Germany. His own
High Command were against any occupation of the Ruhr, but heís pushed
it through against his commanders.í
wishes.

Baldwin: And the French simply caved in without a murmur. With Laval as
Premier, the French are working right alongside Hitler and Mussolini.
Eden: The tide of Fascism is drawing ever closer, sir. One might say itís lapping
at our very shores with Mosley and his crew strutting the streets. Itís a
pity the League of Nations hasnít more clout. It backs off every time
its authority is flouted and the Nazis realise it. Theyíre getting away
with murder Ė literally.

Baldwin: And now the King is sticking his oar in and compromising all weíre
doing. He openly criticised the Government when he visited the
Welsh coalfields. Dammit! Weíre doing our best and heís hindering
all our efforts to sort out this recession. Worse still, heís singing the praises
of Herr Hitler to all and sundry. His father was right. We have a serious
problem on our hands, Eden, with the new King Ė and I donít really
know how to solve it.

Eden: Iíve heard heís planning to go on a cruise this autumn with Mrs Simpson.
Baldwin: Good heavens! The gutter press will have a field day! I only hope
he doesnít return saying heís going to marry her. Weíve enough crises on
our hands.

Eden: Whatíll happen if he does, sir?

Baldwin: Weíll face that when it happens. You know, Eden, the Kingís
father always hoped that Edwardís brother, Prince Albert, would one
day come to the throne Ė and that may well happen yet. No government
will countenance a woman like Mrs Simpson being Queen. He
couldnít have made a worse choice of a woman to play around with Ė
but then he never did have much taste where women were concerned,
did he?

Eden: [Smiling ironically] Like grandfather, like grandson.

Baldwin: Just so, only his grandfather toed the line when he came to the throne
and worked with his ministers, not against them. Anyhow, to change
the subject to more pleasant things, Iíve backed the favourite to win the
Grand National. Whatís your money on?

Eden: I havenít made my bet yet, sir. But Iíve booked my seat for the
Cup Final.

Baldwin: You know, Eden, only when we lose our interest in sport is the
country really done for!

Curtain

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