"This rather odd little German dynasty"
That is the extraordinary description that Christopher Hitchens gives to the British Royal family. Clearly he retains a lot of hatred from his Leftist days. Sad that a man with only a little longer to live is trying his best to be remembered as a shrill abuser. Most of us mellow with age.
His rage arises from the success of the British movie, "The King's Speech". He resents that the movie is a feelgood story rather than meticulous history. He points out ways in which the movie glosses over the rough edges of the times it describes. Hitchens calumniates Edward VIII, George VI, Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain. His central point is that they were all nicer to Hitler than he, with the wisdom of hindsight, would have been.
Hitchens is of course partly right in that Edward VIII was very weak character and Chamberlain was very badly mistaken. But the first thing that Hitchens completely and quite dishonestly ignores is the tenor of the times in which all four moved. Hitler and the Fascists were at the time widely admired outside Germany, particularly among the political Left. The description of Mussolini by FDR as "that admirable Italian gentleman" perhaps best captures the mood of the times. Harvard, too, was pro-Nazi. Churchill was one of the few who stood against that mood.
Secondly, Hitchens fails to remark the vast public antipathy towards war that prevailed in England at the time. After the horrors of WWI, almost every living soul in Britain considered another European war unthinkable and wished that no stone be left unturned to avoid such a war. In his policy of appeasement Chamberlain was simply representing the nation that he led.
So Edward VIII's undoubted enchantment with Hitler and George VI's support for Chamberlain were well within the normal range of opinion for the times. Neither man had Hitchens' luxury of seeing events from the vantage point of the year 2011.
Hitchens is also enraged that Churchill supported Edward VIII for a time. But Churchill was by that time quite conservative and in a monarchy support for the King is simply normal conservative practice.
Hitchens accuses the makers a popular movie of distorting history but it is Hitchens the historian who is the biggest distorter of all -- JR