Listen free for 30 days

Listen with a free trial

One credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
Unlimited listening to the Plus Catalogue - thousands of select Audible Originals, podcasts and audiobooks.
Exclusive member-only deals.
No commitment - cancel anytime.
Buy Now for £34.99

Buy Now for £34.99

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

Summary

The Sunday Times best seller

A Daily Mail Royal Book of the Year, 2021

December 1936. The king of England, Edward VIII, has given up his crown, foregoing his duty for the love of Wallis Simpson, an American divorcée. Their courtship has been dogged by controversy and scandal, but with Edward's abdication, they can live happily ever after. But do they?

In Traitor King, best-selling historian Andrew Lownie draws on hitherto unexplored archives to uncover the dramatic world of the Windsors post-abdication. Lownie reveals a couple obsessed with their status, financially exploiting their position and manipulating the media. Filled with treachery and betrayal, this is a story of an exiled royal and the Nazi attempts to recruit him to their cause—and of why the royal family never forgave the duke for choosing love over duty. 

©2021 Andrew Lownie (P)2021 Bonnier Books UK

Critic reviews

"Darkly compelling...hundreds of eye-popping details.... Gripping...damning portrait of the Windsors." (Daily Mail, Book of the Week)

"Briskly written and compulsively readable...." (A.N. Wilson, TLS)

"Meticulously researched." (Spectator)

"Entertaining...convincing...timely. Urgent reading for royals." (Evening Standard

More from the same

What listeners say about Traitor King

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    84
  • 4 Stars
    40
  • 3 Stars
    19
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    2
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    65
  • 4 Stars
    27
  • 3 Stars
    25
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    8
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    81
  • 4 Stars
    35
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

Nothing new or original. Obvious bias. Not particularly well written. Last 7 minutes were the best of a rather tedious book. Very disappointed with it. Narrator was good but that is only good point. Plenty of better books on the subject

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating story.

An interesting viewpoint of a much written about characterVery readable or listenable,although I would have preferred a professional reading the audio book. Sometimes the author stumbled
Much is made of the German courtship of the Duke but little evidence presented of his replies. Also, little was made of the sheer German ness of our royal family, surely an influence? Another item somewhat neglected was the rift caused by the stinginess of the Duke, and the lies he told regarding his wealth and his brother’s equal stinginess in return. However, the writer does capture what a selfish self centred dull couple they were, and the shallow circle in which they moved. Despite my minor whinges it is an illuminating book. Recommended.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Utterly explosive & easily the best read on the subject

A must read for anyone interested in Royal or WW2 history.
There have been many claims and reports about Edward VIII & Wallis Simpson’s Nazi links and this book clarifies much of the whole affair citing as much evidence as possible to back up the claims.
As in his book about the Mountbattens, Andrew Lownie manages to get that bit more information than anyone else I know of has & revealed the story in greater clarity.
It’s still astonishing and shocking to this day that the public are not more outraged by what happened. Perhaps it’s because details have been drip fed over the years?
It does explain many things such as why the Germans paused when they could have decimated the British army at Dunkirk, why such a fuss was made of the link between Wallis and Edward & why he was treated as an outcast after abdication. I now believe the divorcee issue was not the real reason for the abdication but the fact he was a clear security risk to the UK.
I eagerly await Andrew’s next book whatever that may be.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting listen

Well written and a fascinating insight into the life of a very flawed man.
The narration was fine but it’s always preferable to have a professional rather than the author. He did pretty well but various stumbles distracted from the story.
I don’t know why authors are allowed to do this!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Fascinating Story

A Fascinating Story - one which unfortunately resonates today. I'm 63, so I remember his death and their respective funerals. I can't say that his, or their, lives have been anything other than a very hazy and remote presence on the seriously outer fringes of mine. I did not expect to be interested in this part of the overall tale - I've read Frances Donaldson's excellent biography of HRH which thoroughly deals with his life pre abdication. Fascinating as this post abdication story is, does it ring as true as Ms Donaldson's does? I'd heard of "the Marburg Files" and the efforts of successive UK & USA Governments to suppress them. What I had not really appreciated was the extent of his double dealing in financial matters during and after WW2. Of all his relatives ironically the one whose habits his most closely resembled would appear to have been Queen Mary - with their shared love of jewellery and the trappings of monarchy. Wallis & Edward were, for many of their very rich acquaintances, a charming couple. and excellent hosts. On more than one occasion Noel Coward while praising the Duchess remarked that HRH would not have been a good King. Even Chips Channon was unimpressed by Edward but - does that alone make HRH a despicable man? HRH was both anti semitic and racist (hardly unique among Royalty etc) thought Hitler had the right idea to the end of his life as well as being a hugely wealthy and persistent tax dodger even during WW2, which I find disgusting and I suspect the majority of his "subjects" would have too though those qualities would not have made him unique among his fellow tax dodgers before, during and as we know to our current cost, after WW2. All they ever actively did as a couple was effectively steal and then squander vast sums of public money on jewellery and clothes which following their deaths were then auctioned off to hugely benefit AIDS research via the Pasteur Institute. Altogether seriously unimpressive as a couple one has to say. Their collective perfidy is clearly demonstrated in this book. We are outraged because of his enormous charm and popularity before the Abdication. We swallowed the myth of a man of ability who cared for the fortunes of the people he reigned over, when it was his staff who had the ability and he didn't actually give a stuff. The recording is excellent and the author has a very pleasant voice.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The things we never knew

I did enjoy this book and it tells us a lot of things we didn’t know which surprised me as I thought I knew the story pretty well however I did get a little lost on certain things it’s just a matter of hanging in there and sticking with it, overall I enjoyed this book and am now interested in the Mountbatten story from the same author.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The Treacherous King

An excellently listened to story of a man who would have given this country to Germany to fulfil his own arrogant belief that he knew better than anyone else what was good for us citizens, and ignoring the Nazi's murderous journey through Europe led by another equally treacherous person,Adolf Hitler, albeit Hitler was a much more clear individual than the Duke of Windsor.

How on earth did the politicians allow him to be given money and position when they knew he collaborated with the Nazi ' is beyond belief. His passing along with That Woman was a long overdue affair. A quicker way would have been a quick assassination of them both, but particularly him.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mr
  • 22-08-21

Engrossing

Bought this after listening to the BBC History Podcast and was not disappointed. It is a really well researched and thorough overview to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor AFTER the abdication.
Really well read by the author as well.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

fascinating story

Really enjoyed Lownie's very informative account of the empty and ultimately sad lives of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor although he should have had it recorded by a professional.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Riveting

This book contains so much interesting information about the Duke of Windsor, well written, well read, and well researched. I thought I knew a lot about this period but now I know much more, particularly about his German associations and Wallis’s character. Recommended.

1 person found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Sharon
  • Sharon
  • 24-06-22

A bit of a surprise

I knew that Edward and Wallis were Nazi sympathisers. But, I had no idea that they were actually traitors and my goodness they really were. The research into this book is great and the conclusions drawn were obvious to anyone. I came to the conclusion that these two people were a couple of dullards and ne'er do wells who were anti-Semites and callous people who had no idea of what was going on around them. A damning portrait indeed.

The author narrated this book and usually that is a mistake. But with this one the author did a reasonable albeit not great job.

Worth a listen if you are interested in this period of history.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Norma Miles
  • Norma Miles
  • 24-02-22

"There is no room for two kings in England."

The story of the king who have up his crown for love is well known: how less than a year after his accession to the throne, in 1936, Edward VIII abdicated in favour of his younger brother George so that he could marry twice divorced Mrs.Simpson. But was it really such a fairy tale romance? And what really happened after the marriage, a virtual life long exile for the 'happy couple', as war with Germany consumed the world? It is this post marital period which is covered in detail, utilising both British and German official documentation as well as recollected anecdotes of contemporaries, building a picture of both the ex king and his wife, emotional, political, financial and social.

It is not an attractive picture but one of self obsession, with personal unkindnesses and ruthlessness towards friends and servants who had given so much to the Windsors. And their hope and expectation that Simpson would still one day be queen. The author, Andrew Lownie who also narrates, lays out all of the facts and allows the reader to decide their characters and the nature of their treachery. It is truly fascinating story, which rivals any fictional work.

There is a final summary chapter (25: Traitor King) which summarises, and lists a number of sources but the work as an historical biography would have been enhance by a full bibliography for further reading. But overall, this is an excellent, well researched and enjoyable account of a fascinating, if frivolous, sad and greedy couple in a tumultuous time.

My thanks to Audible UK's Premium Plus, which allows members to read this book for free