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Vol 23 No 5 May/June 2018

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Walter Monckton: The Life of Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

ISBN13: 9780297176992
ISBN: 0297176994
Published: June 1969
Publisher: Weidenfield & Nicolson
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback
Price: £10.00
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Walter Monckton, Vicount Monckton of Brenchley, haa a distinguished and exceptionally varied career. During the Abdication Crisis he was the most intimate adviser of Edward VIII, and his tact, power of negotiation, and friendship with the King, made him a perfect counsellor. So remarkable indeed was his gift for conciliation that it became a habit to send for him when delicate situations arose.

During the Second World War he became Director of the Ministry of Information, and was sent on missions to Moscow, the Middle East, and the United States. One of his most dramatic excursions was when he was sent to Portugal by Winston Churchill, to investigate an alleged plot to kidnap his old friend the Duke of Windsor.

Walter Monckton was also closely involved as constitutional adviser with the Indian Princes, particularly the Nizam of Hyderabad (said to be the richest man in the world), in an attempt to preserve the independence of his State when the British had left India. In 1949 he became an MP and was Conservative Minister of Labour during a time of acute industrial disturbance when his genius for conciliation was brought fully into play. Later, he was Minister of Defence on the eve of the Suez Crisis.

By profession Walter Monckton was a lawyer and, rising with remarkable speed, became one of the leading barristers in England, commanding an enormous income and famous for the persuasiveness of his advocacy. Although he achieved so much success in life, his character was so endearing and his charm so immense that it was all accomplished without making a single enemy. His private life was not without unhappiness, and his public life in some ways was incongruous with the man: shy, with a deep love of the Kentish countryside and country pursuits - hunting, riding - he perhaps felt that the greatest honour of his life was to be appointed president of the MCC.

Lord Birkenhead was given access to all Monckton's unpublished papers including his personal account of the Abdication, and has also had more than a hundred interviews with Monckton's family and his major political contemporaries. He has written a revealing and intimate book about Viscount Monckton.