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Feather's Miscellany: Edward - Act 4, Scene 4

John Waddington-Feather contains his epic and very readableplay about a crisis in Britain's constitutional affairs.

Act 4. Scene 4.
Time: October 1936
Place: Fort Belvedere.

Enter James the butler with a tray on which are
a decanter of whisky and two cut-glass tumblers. Edward is sitting in an
easy chair waiting the arrival of Prime Minister Baldwin, who has
requested an urgent meeting with the King.

James: Iím so pleased Your Majesty had a restful holiday during your cruise.
It must have been a very welcome break from the stress of work here.

Edward: Thank you, James, and I hope you enjoyed a break in my absence.

James: I would hardly say it was a break, sir, though in your absence we had
fewer visitors.

Edward: In other words you had some free time on your hands, eh?

James: With respect, sir, a butler never has free time on his hands. Thereís always the
staff to supervise and the routine daily running of your residencies.

Edward: [Smiling] In that youíre like a king running his kingdom, James. Heís
always his ministers to supervise and he has to oversee the running of
his nation. Youíll let me know the moment the Prime Minister arrives.
Itís rather urgent.

James: Of course, Your Majesty. [Bows and exits]

Edward: I wonder why Baldwin put that urgent telephone call through to Sandringham
and brought me back to Sunningdale. He must have something on his mind to
want to see me in secret at this late hour. [Goes to window] Ah, here he
comes Ė by himself as usual in his tiny car, no secretary, no bodyguards Ė but
he looks grim. Iíd like to bet heís brought me here to talk about Wallis.
She must have got right up their noses if theyíve sent the Prime Minister
along to see me in secret. Poor Wallis! I wish theyíd leave us alone and let
us get on with our lives. I wonder how theyíd feel if I began probing into their
private lives.

[Door opens and James enters]

James: The Prime Minister has arrived, Your Majesty.

Edward: Then send him in please, James.

[James holds the door for Baldwin to enter
then exits closing the door behind him. Baldwin bows, then Edward shakes
his hand and motions him to a chair near the table where the whisky
decanter and glasses stand]

Baldwin: Itís good of Your Majesty to see me at such short notice and at this hour.

Edward: Not at all. Thatís what Iím here for and I guessed it was something
pretty urgent for you to make the call. May I offer you a drink, Mr Baldwin?

Baldwin: I wouldnít mind one, sir. [Edward pours a drink] Youíre not drinking
yourself, sir?

Edward: I never drink before eight at night, but donít let that stop you having a dram.

Baldwin: Youíve a fine place here at Fort Belvedere; and I must say the trees
look splendid at this time of year in their autumnal colours.

Edward: My brother, Bertie, and I planted them when I moved here some
years ago. The place had rather gone to seed and the gardens needed much
work on them; but the graft we put in has borne fruit. I love my gardens
and thatís where I relax to get away from it all.

Baldwin: Youíve certainly made a good job of them. [Pauses and sips his drink]
But to business, Your Majesty. I have to touch on a ticklish subject
which needs sorting out very urgently.

Edward: Mrs Simpson?

Baldwin: Just so, sir, and not to put too fine a point on it, my colleagues and I are
becoming increasingly concerned about the closeness of your friendship when
certain foreign papers are saying that you will marry her, and now your recent
cruise alone with her has set tongues wagging here, sir.

Edward: [Grimly] Oh? Howís that? After all, sheís only a close friend and has been
for some time.

Baldwin: Iím relieved to hear you say that, sir, and Iíd like to say at the outset that
I come as your friend as well as your Prime Minister. I realise this is a
very personal matter, but Iím anxious to help all I can; yet the fact is that
statements in the American papers and elsewhere abroad have given us the
greatest anxiety. If these reports continue they can only harm the monarchy.

Edward: [Quickly] Iíve read nothing in the papers here.

Baldwin: Thatís because the press has been ordered to keep quiet about them
by Beaverbrook and Harmsworth and the other dailies have fallen into line.

Edward: Censorship? I thought we were living in a free country.

Baldwin: What the papers do has nothing to do with the Government, I assure you, sir.

Edward: I would hope not.. You know my views on freedom of speech, Mr Baldwin.

[Baldwin doesnít answer but looks up suddenly]

Baldwin: I gather Mrs Simpson is proceeding with her divorce.

Edward: Thatís correct.

Baldwin: Must the case really go on?

Edward: [Brusquely] Mr Baldwin, I have no right, even as King, to interfere with
the rights of an individual. As far as Iím concerned, Mrs Simpson is free to
do as she wishes. Iím certainly not going to advise her what to do.

Baldwin: I quite agree. Mrs Simpson has every right to please herself Ė and sheís
certainly experienced in divorce; but then they have different views
from ourselves on divorce in America.

Edward: Perhaps theyíre more enlightened than us, and I hope during my reign that
this country will become more enlightened.

Baldwin: We all try to enlighten the people we serve, Your Majesty. Weíre
not in Parliament to serve ourselves. The peopleís interests must always
come first.

Edward: Mr Baldwin, I couldnít agree with you more.

Baldwin: But our national interests also have to be safeguarded as never before
now that Europe is in turmoil.

Edward: I would call them exciting times, Prime Minister. Look how Hitler is
transforming Germany.

Baldwin: Heís transforming more than Germany, sir. He has his eyes on the rest
of Europe and beyond. Herr Hitler is about to sign a pact with Japan, sir,
and his ministers, Himmler and Heydrich, are at this moment liaising
closely with the Italians to set up a secret police network which will
cover almost the whole of western Europe, isolating Britain more and
more. Yes, indeed, Herr Hitler has transformed Germany Ė but for the better?

Edward: I feel you are reading more into Herr Hitlerís plans than is the case,
Mr Baldwin. He is merely protecting Europe from the Communists,
for Germany is a great deal nearer Russia than ourselves. Thatís where
the real threat lies. You canít deny theyíre causing trouble in many
countries, including our own. The recent clashes in London between
the Communists and Sir Oswald Mosleyís party reflects
whatís happening in the rest of Europe. Wherever they are, the
Communists always cause trouble.

Baldwin: So do the Fascists, sir, and they need watching just as closely.

Edward: I donít feel there is anything to fear from Herr Hitler and his allies. Itís
Stalin we have to watch. Heís ruthless.

Baldwin: Both Herr Hitler and Mr Stalin need watching and they concern us greatly
. We must have unity in this country if we are to maintain peace in
Europe and we all need to shoulder our responsibilities, Your Majesty.

Edward: [Stiffly] I think I know what my role is as monarch as much as you do
as Prime Minister, Mr Baldwin.

Baldwin: I sincerely hope so, sir.

Edward: And as for Mrs Simpson, please reassure your Cabinet and the powers
that be that weíre merely very good friends.

Baldwin: I gather the divorce is being heard in Ipswich.

Edward: So I believe. Mrs Simpson has property there.

Baldwin: In the Cabinetís view, it would be more diplomatic if she delayed
her divorce till after your coronation, sir. To hurry the divorce through
now would lead to much speculation and anxiety.

Edward: As Iíve said before, what Mrs Simpson does is her own affair. She
makes her choices just as I make mine and I know where
my responsibilities lie in private as well as in public.

Baldwin: Iím sure you do, sir. [Finishes his whisky and rises to go] .I thank
you again, Your majesty, for seeing me so urgently and letting me have
your views. I hope I havenít inconvenienced you too much.

Edward: Not at all Ė and thank you for your advice, Mr Baldwin. Youíve been
most helpful and you can inform your Cabinet that my
relationship with Mrs Simpson is simply that of a good friend. Thatís
all.

[He rings a bell and James enters to show out Baldwin after he
has bowed to the King]

Curtain

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