A new book by Norwegian author Tor Bomann-Larsen casts light on the Norwegian Royal Family’s WWII history. Against a backdrop of Norway-Germany negotiations to unite against the Bolsheviks, come rumours Queen Maud was euthanized by her own physician.
Queen Maud’s physician, Lord Bertrand Edward Dawson First Viscount Dawson of Penn, GCVO, KCB, KCMG, PC, FRCP, was an advocate of euthanasia.
According to his own notes, released in the 1980s and preserved in the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle, he had performed the procedure on her brother George V on 20 January 1936. The King was suffering from a terminal disease at the time.
Lord Dawson alleged Queen Mary and the Prince of Wales, who ascended the throne as Edward VIII then abdicated to become the Duke of Windsor because of his relationship with Wallis Simpson, instructed him to do this.
The physician administered a lethal cocktail of morphine and cocaine by two separate injections at approximately 23:00. It is not clear if the King was consulted.
“It was evident that the last stage might endure for many hours, unknown to the patient but little comporting with the dignity and serenity which he so richly merited and which demanded a brief final scene. Hours of waiting just for the mechanical end when all that is really life has departed only exhausts the onlookers and keeps them so strained that they cannot avail themselves of the solace of thought, communion or prayer,” his notes read.
News of the King’s death was then withheld to ensure publication by the following morning’s edition of The Times, instead of the evening papers on 20 January. The headline read “A Peaceful Ending at Midnight.''
10 months later, Lord Arthur Ponsonby introduced the 1936 Voluntary Euthanasia (Legislation) Bill in the House of Lords. The Bill’s purpose was to allow patients of sound mind over 21 to request the procedure if suffering from incurable and fatal illness with severe pain. It excluded provisions for mercy killing on a non-voluntary basis.
Lord Dawson, who ultimately spoke against the Bill, but reportedly not euthanasia, said, “When the patient is carrying a great load of suffering, our first thoughts should be the assuagement of pain even if it does involve the shortening of life.”
''One should make the act of dying more gentle and more peaceful even if it does involve curtailment of the length of life. That has become increasingly the custom. This may be taken as something accepted.'' The Bill was defeated subsequently by 35 votes to 14.
‘Her death was a relief’
In his new book written ‘Æresordet’ (Word of Honour), Norwegian author Tor Bomann-Larsen, alleges his sources indicate Queen Maud could also have been euthanized almost three years after King George V’s passing to avoid a painful death from terminal cancer.
“I don’t have a very good description of how she died. What’s special about this is that the English physician in charge [Lord Dawson] was a declared fan of euthanasia,” Dagbladet quotes Mr Bomann-Larsen as informing talk
Victoria Tower, Houses of Parliament
Loz Pycock/Flickrshow host Fredrik Skavlan on his programme when it was recorded yesterday.
“Queen Maud had left home strong and healthy and would return in a coffin, without Norwegian doctors having had any connections to what happened,” he writes in the book.
Mr Bomann-Larsen also describes how the British peer allegedly corresponded with his Norwegian counterpart Hans L.C. Huitfeldt, physician to both King Haakon VII (born Prince Carl of Denmark) and Queen Maud, following her death on 20 November 1938, officially from heart failure.
Allegedly quoting from Lord Dawson notes, the author claims the peer notified the doctor of the Queen’s real cause of death, cancer, “with the King’s permission to inform you under absolute secrecy.”
“ [...] When reading this account, you will agree that the Queen’s sudden death was a relief and which saved her from these last painful stages of the disease both you and I know only too well.”
Dr Huitfeldt replied the King told him after his visit to England that he “was extremely grateful that her sudden death freed her from the huge suffering that would have been the inevitable result of her continued existence. This has been a great comfort to His Majesty in his grief. ”
Nevertheless, Mr Bomann-Larsen also told Fredrik Skavlan that, “I don’t think a lot points towards euthanasia, I feel I must explain her physician’s attitudes and views and publicise the letters.”
All references to Queen Maud and the alleged euthanasia were cut when the programme was aired this evening.
“I haven’t read his book, but think he’s stretching things a little too far. King Haakon VII was not present when the Queen died. He was on his way from Norway to England, and had only reached Copenhagen when he received the news. The Queen’s doctors would have done everything they could to keep her alive,” political scientist Carl-Eric Grimstad M.A., who has researched royalty for many years, tells The Foreigner.
According to him, Queen Maud became quite well-liked in Norway, even though she was first-and-foremost a British Princess and never became Norwegian.
Nonetheless, she described the country as “dreary”, and spent much time at Appleton House in Norfolk.
“She ran off to stay there quite frequently because of the Norwegian temperatures,” he says.
The property, where Prince Alexander, later King Olav V of Norway was born on 2 July 1903, was attached to the family seat on the Sandringham Estate. It became known as “The Queen’s empty house” as it stood empty for years. The last-known inhabitants were King George V and The Queen Mother. It became derelict following WWII, and was pulled down in 1984.
Dave Snowden/FlickrHowever, relations between Queen Maud and her British family became strained following her marriage to King Haakon. Mr Grimstad stumbled across some notes, entitled “A dirty attempt to defraud Queen Maud”. She was disinherited when she married King Haakon VII.
“He got extremely annoyed about it and stopped going to Britain after she died. King George V never came on a state visit to Norway,” says Mr Grimstad.
Meanwhile, Queen Maud was transported back to Norway in her coffin on the HMS ‘Royal Oak’ following her death, and she was subsequently buried at Akershus Castle in Oslo. The deceased Queen’s body was subsequently moved to a small church in Oslo to save it from the bombing.
Hearsay suggests there are also still other mystery's about Queen Maud that remain unsolved, however.
“The Norwegian Nazi Party (Den Nasjonal Samlingen) raised questions about the circumstances regarding King Olav V’s birth. There were rumours King Haakon VII may not have been the father, and Queen Maud was artificially inseminated,” Mr Grimstad says.
Following the German invasion of Norway in 1940, “they [the Germans] were quite anxious to document she didn’t give birth to King Olav V. Rumours also suggest an autopsy was carried out on her body to see if she had actually given birth at all.
According to Mr Grimstad, they may have even been some German documents about this, though this has not been confirmed.
“The person believed to have possessed the alleged documents was assassinated in Oslo in 1941,” he concludes.
Neither Buckingham Palace nor the Royal Court in Oslo confirm claims that Queen Maud was euthanized.