The King's Private Army

Protecting the British Royal Family during the Second World War

Andrew Stewart

Date Published :
March 2016
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
approx. 25 b/w photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781910777282
Pages : 136
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Available
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Following the surrender of France in June 1940 Britain prepared to defend itself against a potential German invasion. In great secrecy a decision was taken to establish an elite bodyguard to protect the British Royal Family. Led initially by Major Jimmy Coats, a Coldstream Guards officer and celebrated winter sportsman, it was given the innocuous title of ‘The Coats Mission’, but its proposed role was perhaps the most important assigned to any unit in the British armed forces. It was intended that this group would evacuate King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and the two princesses, Margaret and her sister Elizabeth, to a place of safety away from London.

For the next two years it trained and prepared for the role in the face of what was believed to be a very real threat, and this study, drawing on previously unseen documents, interviews and archival material, provides its history and explains how the Royal Family’s protection was viewed. Beginning with the prewar shelter preparations for the Royal Households and running through the increased anxiety of the 1940 invasion threat and Blitz, the renewed danger in 1941 and then the progressive reduction in the special measures in the years that followed,The King's Private Army offers the first dedicated account of a largely unknown but potentially critical element of the defense of the United Kingdom during the Second World War.

About The Author

Andrew Stewart is a Senior Lecturer within the Defence Studies Department, King's College London, the academic component of the United Kingdom's Joint Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC). Currently he is the Land Historian supporting the Higher Com


‘This is a story that ranks in terms of excitement with anything you could read about the Tudors, the Wars of the Roses etc. … Superb.’

- Books Monthly

“ … the plans and contingencies surrounding the safety of the Royal Family during the Second World War have largely been overlooked, or barely mentioned, so Andrew Stewart’s illustrated book is most welcome”.

- The Gallopolian: Journal of the Gallipoli Association

“ … an impeccably researched, cogently argued and well written account. It may, indeed, only be a footnote to history, but the diligence of the author has challenged myth in the strongest way, by the marshalling of primary sources previously overlooked.”

- Society of Friends of the National Army Museum, Spring 2017

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