King But Not Country: Anthony Blunt of the Cambridge Five

The Russians have been working their way through all the still classified documentation on the most famous British spies working for Soviet intelligence during the thirties and forties. These men later, in the sixties, became known as the Cambridge Five – there were more like a dozen in all including Oxford recruited by the great talent spotter Arnold Deutsch – but the five were the most valuable to the Russians.

Kim Philby led the pack, having been singled out after working in Austria on behalf of Comintern during 1933-34, when the country drifted into clerical fascism and seemed about to be absorbed by Hitler’s Germany. There, in Vienna, the working-class suffered grievously having risen up against the new régime and Philby was forced to flee back to London, a wife in tow (a Jewess to the horror of his mother.) Recruited for Soviet intelligence before he could join the Communist Party of Great Britain to worm his way up the ranks of the establishment under deep cover, he also wrote out a list of other likely candidates for the cause.

Among these was Anthony Blunt, also of Trinity College of which he became a Fellow, a cousin of the Duchess of York, later Queen on the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936. Blunt joined up later than others. Not only that, he also laid down one unusual condition: under no circumstances would he reveal anything about the Royal Family. This the Russians accepted. He would remain loyal to King but not to Country.