London: Britain`s spy agency MI5 tapped the phones of King Edward VIII and his brother, the Duke of York, at the height of the 1936 Abdication Crisis in Britain, a new book has claimed.
According to the biography of Tommy Robertson, architect of Britain`s wartime counter intelligence operations, MI5 did listen in on to the deliberations of the king and his brother. In fact, in the constitutional crisis, then UK Premier Stanley Baldwin called in Sir Vernon Kell, head of MI5.
Author Geoffrey Elliot has claimed that Robertson -- recruited by Kell in the early 1930s -- tapped into the royal conversation from a telephone junction box near 145 Piccadilly which is home of the Duke of York, father of the Queen.
Edward VIII`s infatuation with American divorcee Wallis Simpson had become a cause that ended in the abdication in December 1936. The shy, stammering Duke of York then became King George VI.
In a four-page note to author Geoffrey Elliot, Robertson`s brother, Major General Ian Robertson, wrote that his brother told him how, under cover of darkness, he had slipped into London`s Green Park, just off Piccadilly, and listened in to the king and future king’s conversation via a GPO telephone junction box in the bushes.
Belinda McEvoy, Tommy Robertson`s daughter, who knew of her father`s role in wartime MI5, told the `Daily Express`: "I didn`t know the business about him being in the bushes in Green Park but I remember him telling me: `I was the only person to know he (the king) was going to abdicate`."
But Philip Ziegler, biographer of King Edward VIII, said: "I can`t say it didn`t happen: from what I know about MI5 and Buckingham Palace it seems unlikely. Of course if the MI5 had information I imagine it would`ve been filtered back to the PM who`d know better than to inquire how they got it."