Orders of the Day — Prince Paul and Princess Olga of Yugoslavia

– in the House of Commons on 17th November 1942.

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Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Sir J. Edmondson.]

Photo of Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid , St Marylebone

If you are a quisling and you happen to be royalty, it appears that you are automatically trusted and forgiven. I am referring to the British Government's treatment of Prince Paul of Yugoslavia and his family, but events have started me wondering 'why King Carol of Rumania, who also collaborated with our enemies, has recently been afforded such assistance and hospitality by the present Government, the circumstances of which are very little known by the general public as yet. King Carol still shares with the gallant Kings of Greece and of Norway the highest British distinction, the honour of the Order of the Bath; but for the time being, I am more concerned with Prince Paul and those around him.

The world knows, and the Government do hot deny, that Prince Paul of Yugoslavia is a quisling. Last Wednesday, nth November, I had a considerable amount to say about this man and his wife, and for the convenience of those who are not aware of the position, before I put some new considerations to the House, I want just to repeat this short summary. Prince Paul has from the very start shown a keen desire to collaborate with the Germans; and he did so. Princess Olga is his loyal wife, and her sympathies were, anyhow, with the Germans because of their enmity towards the Bolsheviks, who have ill-treated her mother, a Russian Grand Duchess. The Princess seldom came to this country, but was constantly in Germany. Her country house was adjacent to the German frontier, and very convenient for Berchtesgaden. She has all along been in a unique position, as an outsider, of being persona grata within that very small inner Nazi circle which surrounds Hitler. She has a sister who lives in Germany and whose husband is a Nazi. In view of these facts, is it not too much to expect of human nature that the Princess should suddenly renounce all her past sympathies and become a sincere and loyal friend of this country? We have deliberately brought this woman over to the British Isles and allowed her, to all intents and purposes, complete freedom. She is in touch with important officials. Who knows that we may not have endangered the lives of countless soldiers, sailors and airmen? What right have we to take a chance with the lives of our fighting men by giving these fantastic privileges to the wife of a dangerous royal enemy?

It was my right and duty, as a Member of Parliament, to draw attention to these facts, which involve important questions of national security and also of principle. The reply that I got from the Government was mainly personal abuse. I am sorry the Under-Secretary is not here. I gave him notice that I was raising the matter.

Photo of Major Sir Albert Edmondson Major Sir Albert Edmondson , Banbury

Can the hon. and gallant Member tell me how long ago?

Photo of Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid , St Marylebone

This mottling. He made a personal attack upon me in such a manner that it left the door wide open to rude retorts in return had I desired. His famous and respected father would never have descended to such second-rate methods, which I have hot the slightest intention of following. The facts that I put forward do net require personal abuse to bolster them up. When the Under-Secretary was not abusing me he was misquoting me. He suggested that I had said that Prince Paul was living a life of luxury and ease at the expense of the British Government. I had said nothing of the kind. I challenged him at the time and he was unable to substantiate that terminological in-exactitude. He said I had tried to make out that Prince Paul was "a dangerous tiger." On the contrary, I said that he was a "traitorous rat." If the Undersecretary thinks that rats are tigers, it may prove very awkward for him some day if he reverses the mistake. I had pointed out that our favoured treatment of such an enemy of Yugoslavia and of Russia was open to be misunderstood by those countries. The Under-Secretary's naive reply was to accuse me of making Yugoslavia and Russia mistrust us—an elementary retort not unlike that of the small boy who puts out his tongue and shouts, "Sucks, you're another."

On the day that the Government spokesman replied to my speech we had from my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) one of the most brilliant and forceful contributions it has ever been my pleasure to listen to in this House. The Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs referred to it as a "rollicking" speech, dismissing it with a sneer and so avoiding giving any reasoned answer whatever. When it came to my turn—and my most pertinent and direct questions were significantly left unanswered—it had become abundantly apparent that they would have been replied to soon enough if the answers had been favourable to the Government. No doubt the House will appreciate why these questions were left unanswered when I tell them what they were: (1) Is the traitor Prince Paul, who is a political prisoner in Kenya, allowed on occasions to go about by himself? (2) Whether Princess Olga, like her husband, is also a political prisoner and, if not, why not? (3) How is Princess Olga's arrival in this country reconciled with the fact that the Government have made a strict rule that no foreigner should be allowed into this country unless our direct national interests justifies such a course? (4) On similar compassionate grounds, would the same facilities to come to this country be given to an ordinary loyal British woman residing in Kenya as has been given to the royal wife of a foreign enemy of this country?

I think that the House will agree that these are reasonable and important questions and that they should be answered. If they are not answered, grave misgivings are bound to remain and to grow. In spite of any insults that are yet to be hurled at me in future by those who are temporarily in power, I intend to pursue this matter until I get satisfactory assurances.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

After looking at Erskine May I have come to the conclusion that the hon. and gallant Member is making a repetition of a Debate which has taken place in the House. It says: It is a wholesome restraint upon Members to prevent them from reviving a Debate already concluded; and there would be little Use in preventing the same question or Bill from being offered twice in the same session if, without being offered, its merits might be discussed again and again. The hon. and gallant Member is clearly going against that Rule, and I must ask him to go on to some other subject. We cannot have a repetition of the other day's Debate.

Photo of Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid , St Marylebone

Am I entitled to make reference to what occurred in a previous Debate?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The hon. and gallant Member was making a good deal more than reference. He was almost quoting the previous Debate from the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Photo of Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid , St Marylebone

I bow to your Ruling, and in that even I shall not continue on the lines to which you have drawn my attention.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I would go further and ask the hon. and gallant Member to get on to some other subject.

Photo of Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid , St Marylebone

Do you mean, Sir, some subject other than the new facts to which I desire to draw attention about Prince Paul?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

Some other subject than Prince Paul. That has already been debated this Session.

Photo of Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid , St Marylebone

In that case, Sir, I would respectfully point out to you that personal remarks were made against me the other day and that I have no opportunity of replying to them except on the Adjournment, and I always understood that the Adjournment was for such purposes as that.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The Adjournment is certainly not for the purpose of renewing a Debate which took place two of three days ago.

Photo of Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid , St Marylebone

There are completely different aspects which I desire to raise, and with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I will do so. The only reason the Government Was able to put forward for giving such privileged, lenient treatment to this royal personage, Prince Paul, was that he is a weak man who would never be a danger to anyone. On that point—

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

Surely that is the same subject which the hon. and gallant Member has already raised, and I say that he cannot go on with that subject.

Photo of Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid Captain Alec Cunningham-Reid , St Marylebone

This is a very important matter which concerns the security of this country. A serious matter of principle is also involved, and I shall now be compelled, Sir, to circulate what I intended to say to hon. Members of this House and to the Press.

Mr. Shaker:

The hon. and gallant Member is quite at liberty to circulate what he likes to the Press and to hon. Members of this House.

Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.