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On the next season of Tenfold more Wicked, a longtime listener reaches out with a tragic family story that's been passed down through the centuries. It's about Rebecca Briggs Cornell, an english puritan separatist fleeing religious persecution, only to be found burned to death in her own home. Was it an accident or was it murdered? Season eleven is out now on exactly right. New episodes on Mondays follow tenfold more wicked on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.


Upstabel night time. March 24, 1944. And a british Royal Air Force pilot circles his Wellington bomber over sleeping Sofia. Tonight, he's been chosen to hit a very special target. He's waiting for his cue.


Steady. Christ.


The pilot jabs the rudder hard right, and the wing bucks upwards. He's not alone in the pitch dark sky. It's crowded up here. 40 other british bombers swoop over the bulgarian capital. And in this thick cloud, concentrations everything.


Nicely done.


Keep on course.


Sophia is under attack again. In his drafty cockpit, the pilot is blinded by flashes of exploding bombs hitting their targets. Strings of bombs rain down on the city. They're hitting industrial, government and residential areas. But this pilot hasn't opened his bomb doors. His shells have an altogether different destination. He's not there yet. Couple more miles. All through the winter and now into the spring, hundreds of british and american bomber planes have attacked Bulgaria from the air. The city's in ruins. Bulgaria has no soldiers in active combat, but she's signed a symbolic declaration of war on Britain and America. And in the eyes of the allies, she deserves this beating.


Get below, cloud.


The Wellingtons bomb bay is crammed with heavy blockbuster and incendiary bombs just waiting to be dropped. But the pilot's navigator directs him southeast, away from the city, away from the other bombers. They're very close now. It's time. The pilot closes the throttle and the plane begins to dive. Because tonight, there's a new target, a very deliberate target. Vraner palace, home to the bulgarian royal family.


Here we go. Arm doors open.


And in the palace, cowering in a bunker, are Queen Giovanna and her children, eleven year old Maria Louisa and the boy, King Simeon. They're absolutely petrified. Their father, King Boris, has been dead for nearly seven months. A suspected victim of murder, he signed a pact with Hitler, and now his family is paying the price.


And Bonsai.


The furious formation of Wellingtons pummel Vrana from the sky again and again. This is a made to measure revenge raid, and it's been personally ordered by one man who just cannot forgive Boris's treachery. Sir Winston Churchill, the british prime minister, has no mercy for the young royals. Did he also sign the order to kill their father? From Blanchard House and. Exactly right. Media. This is the butterfly king. I'm Becky Milligan.


Chapter four. A snake is still a snake. I'm back in Bulgaria, in the grounds of Rana palace, where, with my producer, EJ, to pay another visit to King Simeon and his sister, Princess Maria Louisa. And as usual, our taxis dumped us miles away from the palace door. It's a long old walk, I know, but there's no way in there. Just gates everywhere and guards who won't let us in. It was nice when he realized we were coming for the king. I think he thought we were a bit, you know, sort of groupies. I mean, if you banged on a gate like that. Buckingham Palace. I was telling you where to go. Allo? Yes. I liked your foreign. Allor. Allor. Very good Bulgarian, I think. Yeah. You'll remember that Vrana palace was King Boris's go to place, his countryside getaway. He felt safe here, catching his butterflies and playing with his children. Now, you know what Rana means, don't you? No crowd, really. And you know what the collective noun for a group of crows is? A murder of crows. How fitting is that? Of course, the official reason for Boris death is that he died of a heart attack.


But as we've established, his strange symptoms suggest he was poisoned. That's what his daughter Maria Luisa has believed all these years. She was just ten when her father died. She's now 89, and we're actually visiting her on a rather special occasion, the princess's birthday. And we have brought a couple of. We've got rather nice little present for her. Biscuits. Yeah. Everybody likes a biscuit. It's not a diamond, but, yes, Maria Louisa is turning 90. I am a bit worried about the flavors. Rose and Violet. Rose is a little bit coals to Newcastle, actually, because Bulgaria is famous for roses. I did think about that afterwards. Do you like Violet flavored biscuits? I don't think I've ever had them. They're actually quite disgusting. They really. I hope she doesn't offer us one. Well, I'm not gonna have one. Maria Louisa has flown into Sofia from New York to celebrate with her brother, King Simeon. She must be jackback, because I actually got here yesterday or the day before. I don't know if you have jet lag when you're older. Just worn out all the time, aren't you? We're worn out all the time. The thing is, we're both feeling a bit nervy because today we have to broach a rather tricky subject, the possibility that Winston Churchill and Britain may have been responsible for their father's death.


So I'm slightly fearful about the kind of welcome we're going to get. Look, here comes a big posh looking car.




How come? To get us. Talking of distrust, that looks like a sort of armor plated car, doesn't it? Oh, my God. It's just stopping. It might be the king. The palace is this way. Which way? Up here? Yeah. Oh, my God. Is he going to run us? We're going to hear the excitement. They don't want us to do the story anymore. Don't look. Oh, look, here we are. He's following us. Oh, my God. I'm quite. Should we walk faster? Quickly. The thing is, we now think we know how Boris was killed. We found evidence in two the London archives and the diary of the nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels. They both tell us it was an asiatic or indian poison which did for the king, probably snake poison. And guess who has ready access to Asia during the war? In 1943, Britain was an imperial power with colonies across south and southeast Asia. The British and their Commonwealth allies were fighting a savage war against the Japanese in the jungles of Indonesia and Malaysia. Conditions for the troops were pretty terrible. For every soldier wounded in battle, another 120 fell sick due to tropical illnesses.


They were bitten by mosquitoes, bugs and, of course, snakes. In fact, before they went to bed at night, soldiers were warned to check their beds to make sure they didn't get any nasty surprises. But it wasn't just those snakes that concerned the British. This Royal Air force film from 1941 clearly identifies another treacherous snake, at least in the eyes of the Brits. A snake hiding in the royal palace in Sofia.


King Boris Bulgaria lies between Greece and Romania.


Remember, Bulgaria had started the war insisting on her neutrality. King Boris wanted to stay out of it all, but he broke his word.


King Boris agreed to keep out of the war if we respected Bulgaria's neutrality. We kept our promise. But already Boris was flirting with Hitler.


And when Boris signed that pact with Hitler, Churchill was livid. To Churchill, honor was everything. And his anger went deep. The previous winter, Britain had signed the largest surrender in british history. When Singapore fell to Japan. It was a humiliating defeat for the empire, a loss of face that Churchill found very hard to swallow. The allies were losing thousands of men every week, yet Boris had managed to avoid sending a single bulgarian soldier to the front. Not one was engaged in active combat, historian Tessa Dunlop reckons Churchill despised Boris for that.


What's interesting is, unlike, for example, the Romanians, who are holus, bolus in bed with the Germans, Boris walks this enigmatic line, and I think that's almost infuriating. Like, you can hate the Romanians, but by God, they got their comeuppance. In Russia, they were murdered like flies, you know, whereas Bulgaria, it seems like they've had a pretty easy ride of the war, to be honest with you. A little bit of light occupation.


And let's not forget that symbolic declaration of war that Bulgaria made on Britain and America.


How can you symbolically be at war with someone? Talk about wanting to have it both ways. Well, if you're Churchill, what are you going to make of that? You're not going to think, oh, Boris is my new best friend.


And what's more, Boris has done it all in the shadows. By playing the system, he's managed to get his way.


And that probably sticks in the crawl, don't you think, of Churchill? I mean, this man at Churchill stakes his identity on taking the fight to.


The enemy, you know, on the landing.


Stages, even though he's never going to bloody have to, and all that kind of jazz. And Boris does the exact opposite, which is head down, work as many people as you can, play them off against each other. Don't play your hand until you absolutely have to. And he's done it really rather well. That's infuriating.


Even more so because Britain had been double crossed by Boris's family, the Saxe Coburgs, before.


And Boris soon followed his minister being met at the station by the Fuhrer himself. And like his father in the last war, he betrays his people.


Like his father, Boris's dad, Foxy Ferdinand, had been courted by the British and French in world War one. They hoped he'd be their ally. But Foxy was also secretly being wooed by the Germans. And in the end, he decided he'd be better off with them. And for Churchill and Boris, this is where it all gets personal. Both men had fought in the first world War on opposite sides, of course. Boris with the triple alliance, that's Germany, Austria Hungary and Italy, and Churchill with the triple entente, that's Britain, France and Russia. And Churchill still held that grudge. He just couldn't let it go.


They think Boris is more Saxe Coburg treachery. Don't forget, Boris is the son of Ferdinand Ferdinand, the only king in the Balkans to not fight alongside the Entente in the First World War.


Did Churchill expect Boris to pay for the sins of his father? Boris's decision to ally with Hitler sent shockwaves through the british establishment. And that broken promise left more than one british diplomat feeling like a foolish diplomats, like Lord George Lloyd. And how do I know? Because on one of my trips to the archives, I came across his private papers. So we get the real sort of gossipy, gossipy side of this. You know, you just don't forget all this he was feeding back to London. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that's what his job was, wasn't it? I expect they all sort of, when they heard something interesting, they're on the blower, as they would say then. Yeah, on the blower. So intriguing, isn't it, to have access now to, you know, all of that correspondence and his thoughts and, you know, all those little bitchy comments. It's interesting. Lord Lloyd was the chairman of the British Council. It's the sort of cultural arm of the Foreign Office designed to create good relations overseas. In the winter of 1939, he was sent on a tour of the balkans to try and shore up support for the war.


Now, Lord Lloyd was no fool. He was also a spy, and his personal letters show he had a waspish tongue.


I dined that night with Colonel Ross, our military attache, a dinner that would have been pleasant had it not been for the volubility of Monsieur Chazon, the League of nations representative, who may conceivably be interesting on politics, but who on military affairs, is as ignorant as he is assertive. The remaining guests were not of great interest. My impression of him was that he was a rather tiresome windbag. The next day, at 730, we left for Sophia, only to be told the ferry would not leave for some three quarters of an hour. So we went into a cottage on the quay, drank some coffee with bad brandy and came to an overheated and reasonably unspeakable restaurant to have breakfast.


Lord Lloyd first met King Boris in 1939. That was long before Boris teamed up with Hitler. And, well, Lloyd was charmed by him, particularly by the king's affection for his royal british cousins, the windsors.


King Boris alluded to the invariable happiness of his visits to England. He had especially enjoyed his visits to Balmoral. He showed me a small photograph of his late Majesty King George V, which he always kept on his writing table in front of him.


He was so impressed that after his visit, he even wrote to King Boris.


I have, since my audience with your majesty, done my best to convince everyone I meet of the strength and sincerity of Bulgaria's. Neutrality.


But a week or so later, Lord Lloyd popped over the border to Yugoslavia, where he met their ruler, Prince Poul. He told the prince about his wonderful audience with the trustworthy King Boris. The prince gave him a very different view.


Prince Paul laughed and merely replied that I was yet another simple and guileless victim of King Boris's well known tactics.


Prince Paul basically told Lord Lloyd he'd been had. And that picture of King George V that Boris had on his writing table.


He said, as for the photograph, he kept many of them of different kings and rulers and pulled out the proper one for each listener.


Crafty. Now, don't forget, all this was being fed back to the government, to Churchill. And while Lord Lloyd might have been charming to the king privately, he became deeply suspicious of him.


I am under no illusions as to the treachery and perfidy of King Boris.


And when Bulgaria signed a pact with Hitler, tempers boiled over. One of the papers I found in the archives has an angry comment scrawled into the margin.


Bulgaria will live to regret her decision.


Is that a veiled threat from the british? Was Lord Lloyd preparing the way for his spy network to assassinate Boris? I mean, I don't really need to spell out what secret services get up to.


Secret services? You know, there's a bit of a hint on the name of the tin. They do operations in secret which others cannot do.


That's Colonel Hamish de Breton Gordon, our weapons expert. Remember, he's ex military, and let's just say he's not unfamiliar with covert operations in wartime.


In the defense of the homeland, they're prepared to do whatever it takes.


He says, bumping off Boris doesn't sound like the sort of thing british intelligence would do today, but I would never.


Completely rule out that perhaps these sort of things have happened in the past.


Oh, okay. Oh, my God. At Rana palace, we're under threat when someone sets the dogs on us. Hello, booby. All the king's dogs are called booby. Or at least Boris's work just called booby. Look, it's working all right. Luckily, EJ subdues the royal guard dogs with her special doggy voice. Rubbish. Guard dog.


Good morning.


How nice to see you again. Lovely to see you. Should we go straight in? Yes. Okay, perfect, then. Yavor, the king's suave and charming aid, comes to our aid. But on our way into the palace, there's a difficult moment. Yavor casually points out the underground bunker the royal family had built to protect themselves from allied bombing.


So after the start of the Second World War, they decided to build a modern bunker. It's right here.


This is.


Yes, this is the entrance. This bunker saved the royal family when this tower collapsed. It collapsed during the night. King Simeon go out with the family.


And they all were under here?




They see the burning of the house because the planes came from there, pulled the bombs here and continued. But it was there, a few meters of the palace.


And just when I'm thinking this visit can't get any more awkward, Yavod drops his own bombshell. His friend Silvia, a bulgarian historian, has apparently found some damning evidence about who murdered King Boris.


When they were in UK, they found a document that showed that the British wants to give weapons to someone to assassin King Boris in Bulgaria. So this is what the British.


Hang on a moment. Hang on. So it's the British?


Yes. This is what she found? I think so.


Yavel's claiming that a bulgarian historian has proof the British wanted King Boris dead and that they were trying to arm someone to do the job for them. I can hear Princess Maria Louisa and his majesty King Simeon coming down the corridor. We quickly try and get the details from Yavor, the historian. Sylvia has found it in the UK. Yes, yes. I think, though, that's what we need. We do need to speak to her, really?


Yes, yes, yes.




I will send a second message now to see if she will answer me.


Good afternoon. Good afternoon, your royal highness. Good afternoon, your majesty.


Nice to see you again. Back to Sofia.


I feel like he hasn't left. So how are you doing with the jet lag? You've just lucky. Is it?


You have to ignore the jet lag.


Oh, very good. Yes, absolutely. Perhaps our birthday biscuits might soften the mood. Her birthday this year falls on an unfortunate day.


Friday the 13th.


Oh, no.


And it was Friday the 13th when I was born.


Oh, my God.


So it doesn't work for me, the bad luck and all that rubbish.


Oh, yes. Throw that out the window. Anyway, this is for you from us. Just because we wanted to mark it and.


Oh, my goodness. Heaven's sakes. What is it?


You can have a little, we hope that.


Is it booze? It's not booze.


No. Oh, God. We did think of booze, but then we thought maybe it's biscuits.


Oh, delight.


I told EJ we should have got booze.


Great. Delighted.


But then we have to get down to business. And the thorny subject of who killed Maria Luisa and Simeon's father. I hold off mentioning what Yavos just told us about that document his friend found accusing the Brits of murder, because I first want to explore whether the British had a motive. The allied air raids began in April 1941, when Boris joined sides with Hitler, and they picked up again in December of that year. In response to the king's symbolic declaration of war, the british prime minister had persuaded President Roosevelt that Bulgaria needed a sharp lesson. But what's strange is the raids intensified after the king's death in 1944.


There were huge air raids of Sofia many, many times and many days esophageal almost burned. It was ghastly times, and it was absolutely terrible. We were carpet bombed several times. Absolutely horrible. And five minutes after the. They're all clear. My mother would drive in and visit people in hospitals and, you know, there was no water, no electricity.


And then, as we've heard, the raids became personal, directly targeting Varana palace, where the boy, King Simeon, was hiding in that underground bunker with a little flashlight. He still doesn't like talking about it. He once wrote that he was sure they were all going to die. His sister remembers watching her home go up in smoke.


Sure. Vrana burn.


Do you remember seeing the flames?


Sure. Incendiary bombs on the roof. The roof was burning. There were, of course, wounded people. Other people panicked and were screaming.


And it didn't end there.


A huge bomb fell in the garden, and one of these enormous bombs made a huge crater. And our chief gardener decided it was much too complicated to fill the hole. So put a little pond. And we used to call it Churchill's lake. But it's no longer there.


No, but it was over there. How terrifying. Just missing by an inch. So was Churchill just trying to frighten Bulgaria into changing sides once Boris was dead? Or was he determined to wipe out the entire royal family? A family he felt was rotten to the core? Why did he do it?


Do you think that you have to ask him up there, Maria Louisa is.


Pointing her finger upwards towards heaven. She's not smiling. So Churchill certainly had a motive for killing King Boris. And remember what Yarval told us about that document his friend Silvia found? It sounds like the British were creating their own opportunity. But that's where we've got another mystery on our hands, because Yarval's friend Silvia won't pick up our calls. But it so happens we know another friend of hers, her colleague, in fact, the very distinguished historian George Bozdoganov. You might remember him. He gets ever so slightly frustrated with me from time to time. So if you look at this, right, I think that's 1943 and it's born.


Maybe take a look at this document.


You want me to shut up, don't you? Yeah.




Excuse me. Yes. So I get my producer EJ, to call him to ask him if he's familiar with Sylvia's discovery.


I'm absolutely sure I haven't seen such a document. That British have an agreement for killing Hussar. Boris, I'm hearing about this document for the first time in my life from you now, just now.


Yes. I found it rather surprising. And I thought if anybody has found something like that, it would be the great detective historian, Mister Bozdoganov himself.


I'm listening to you. Thank you. But I haven't found such a document at all.


Thank you so much.


My regards to your colleague Betty Maligam also.


Oh, thank you very much. I'm here. And thank you. It was lovely to speak to you.


Okay, bye bye.


He's missing me already. At least he's promised to try to reach Sylvia for us. Well, so no. So he thinks it's a mistake. A mistake? Unless Sylvia squirreled away a document without telling him. He's quite indignant, isn't he, that you know, if it's true there's a document, he. He will be really cross. Well, let's see what he can find. Back to 1941, Sofia and our list of british motives for murdering Boris. Boris has allied with the Nazis. And the situation in the city is getting worse. At the british embassy, staff are terrified. With good reason. Under nazi orders, the bulgarian police start arresting british embassy staff. A british official is kidnapped. The ambassador's butler disappears. And we know this because in the archives, I came across another set of private papers that shed light on our investigation. The papers of the british ambassador to Bulgaria, Sir George Rendell, the man at the heart of the action. He telegrams London in a fury.


Methods adopted by bulgarian authorities have been intolerable. Arrest of the bulgarian employees of the press office was entirely unjustifiable. And removal of the legation butler without notice was an affront in which I cannot acquiesce with any dignity. We must now write off King Boris as a dead loss.


Rendell's 21 year old daughter lives with him, and he fears for her safety and for the safety of his 60 embassy staff. He's right too. Under Rendell's direction, the british mission packs up and decamps to Turkey. On the 11 March 1941, the ambassador and his diplomatic party arrive at the Pera palace hotel in Istanbul.


Hello. May I just have the keys to my room, please, Sir George Randall. Don't worry about our bags for now. You can get the boy to bring them up by and by.


Randall and his daughter are given rooms on an upper floor. That twist of fate saves both their lives, because a few minutes after they check in, someone has planted a bomb in their luggage. Six people are killed, including two members of Rendell's staff, both young women. Several other people are badly injured. Who could have planted the explosives? Well, the train which had taken them from Sofia to Istanbul was a private train. And it turns out that this was the private train of King Boris III of Bulgaria. So for the Brits, there were only two options. The Bulgarians had planted the bomb themselves or were, at the very least, complicit. Either way, it wasn't a good look. The hostility between Bulgaria and Britain had just reached another level altogether. Rendell and the king had enjoyed cordial relations over the years. They'd even bonded over their butterfly collections. But in his end of mission statement, Rendel writes, as for the future of.


The country, it is dark indeed. If Bulgaria meets with heavy punishment, she'll have nobody but herself and her present rulers to blame.


All the evidence points in the same direction. The British had every reason to kill the king, but how did they do it? Back to the jungle and that snake venom. And keep in mind that the claimed Boris was killed with snake venom comes from the private diary of Joseph Goebbels, head of nazi propaganda. Not really what you'd call a trustworthy source. But why would he lie in his own diary? So we know british troops were fighting in the jungles of Asia. We also know there's a huge population of deadly snakes in those jungles and that their venom can be milked, freeze dried and then injected into someone. Our favorite snake expert, Mark O'Shea, told us so. But remember that King Boris took six days to die. If you're injected with deadly snake venom, wouldn't you keel over immediately?


Not like you see in the moves where somebody gets bitten and they fall over dead. That doesn't happen.


In fact, it all depends where precisely the venom's injected.


There are so many different ways of doing injections, intramuscular, intravenous, subcutaneously, intraperitoneally. Not that one, thank you very much. Then obviously, the venom's got to spread from there up the lymphatic, through the tissues, through the blood.


So a person injected with snake venom could take a while to die, especially if the venom isn't too potent. And we know the poor king lingered on his deathbed.


The same species could have a considerable amount of variation in venom. When you milk the venom, you don't know what concentration of venom is there because it all depends when the snake last used it.


Okay, it's clearly not a precise science, but what if the freeze dried venom wasn't injected, but was slipped into his food?


The point with venom is that snake venoms are protein, so therefore, your saliva will start the process of digestion and your gut will finish it. The venom's probably not going to be around long enough to actually do anything.


So Boris couldn't have been killed by swallowing snake venom. Mark's actually tried it by accident, that is.


I've caught a lot of spitting cobras. And they spit their venom at your face. And some of that venom has gone into my mouth, hit the back of my throat. It's quite acrid. Generally. I'll just have a swig of water or coffee to take the taste away.


Remind me never to accept a dinner invitation at Mark's. So let's just recap Boris's symptoms for a minute. He had a fever, he was vomiting, his skin was covered in blotches, his red blood cells exploded. Then he lost consciousness, his liver packed up, and finally he had a fatal heart attack. Does snake venom cause such a reaction?


Well, there isn't one answer to that for the simple fact the snake venoms are complicated cocktails of different toxins.


This next bit's very technical.


You've got neurotoxins which affect the nervous system, haemotoxins that affect the circulatory system, cytotoxins that.


To be honest, all this is going a bit over my head. I'm still feeling a bit sick thinking of mark swallowing snake venom, and then suddenly.


Then you've got cardiotoxins that directly target the heart.


Cardiotoxins? A snake venom which directly attacks the heart. Have I finally found what killed Boris?


Okay, but.


But why does there always have to be a but?


If there's damage to the blood vessels, I would expect there to be signs of that in the kidneys, and I would expect the urine to contain blood. Urine as black as Coca Cola, right? Probably a sizable amount of it. And that's not been mentioned?


Well, no. He's a king, for goodness sake. I can't exactly ask about a file of royal pea. Never mind. But now he's reviewed the symptoms, does Mark agree it could have been snake venom that killed King Boris?


I'm absolutely positive that it wasn't. It sounds great. It sounds so sensationally exciting, but no.


Oh, come on. We've got deadly asian snakes whose venom causes heart attacks. What more do you want?


People can survive snake bites sometimes without any antivenom. It's estimated that up to 50% of bites might not be fatal, even without treatment.


Well, he could have been one of the unlucky few.


I just don't go for that. If you really absolutely must bump somebody off, then don't use snake venom. Use something that is guaranteed to do the job.


But maybe. Bet there's that sort of sense of, you know, the sort of fog of war and the mystery and all the spies and. Let's do something a little bit, you know, different.




I can't persuade you, can I?


No, you can't. I just don't see this as an efficient means of. Of getting rid of somebody nice, though it sounds in a novel or something like that.


Okay. I know when I'm beaten. Looks like Goebbels sent me down a blind alley. So, reluctantly, I'm scratching out snake venom as the means that killed the king. But at least I've still got the British and Churchill in the frame for the motive. All I have to do now is pluck up the courage to confront Simeon and Maria Luisa, to admit to them that I think my own countrymen killed their father. But our interview doesn't go the way I'd imagined at all.


That's just nonsense.


We were too small and unimportant for Britain to send somebody and put poison in his soup. I don't believe it.


It turns out the royal siblings have already researched Britain's potential motives for killing the king. And they've crossed the British off the list of suspects. There's a very good reason why. Turns out that by 1943, King Boris was in secret talks with the allies to try to change sides.


The British had no advantage of it because my father already. We were all trying desperately to ask for western help.


Yes, because Churchill was pretty vociferous about Bulgaria. Oh, yes, and your father.


Yeah, but not to the point of poisoning him.


They know all about the asian snake venom theory too. And like me, they've dismissed it.


This was one of the nazi theories, part of the propaganda. They said that it was a snake poison, but it was only found in british Guyana. So obviously trying to point to the british intelligence for having done the job.


But why would they have wanted to do that?


We're on the wrong side in the war. So that you could think that there's a reason that they should eliminate the king.


So the nazi propaganda minister's diaries were just another piece of propaganda. Turns out Goebbels was counting on his diaries being published. They were not his private thoughts at all. And of course, we're in the middle of the war where everyone is pointing the finger at everyone else and passing the buck. It seems we're only chasing red herrings here. And remember Sylvia, Yavor's friend who found that documentary blaming the British? She'd discovered it in the british archives, apparently. Well, even Bulgaria's leading historian, George Bozdoganov, can't find her. She's gone totally awol.


Okay, I tried to call on Sylvia, but she doesn't answer the phone. But I doubt that such kind of document existed at all.


I'm beginning to doubt it too. To be honest, I'm beginning to doubt everything. In one fell swoop, I've managed to lose the means, motive and the opportunity for the king's murder. And I just don't think Churchill had enough to gain from murdering Boris, especially if he'd already started secret talks with the allies. So who did have something to gain? And if it wasn't snake poison, how did they do it? I've come back home to the UK, to the archives, because I've absolutely got to check something out. I know it's a long shot, but what if Sylvia really did find something? Something that I've somehow missed? So along with my producer, EJ, I'm turning the files inside out one last time until. Oh, my God. That was just incredible. I can't believe it. What did you think? I mean, okay, all right, sorry. I know the squeeze. Sit down. Sit down here. Now, I don't know if I found Sylvia's missing document, but I think I might have found something even better. So, right at the top of it, it's so secret, it says, to be held under lock and key and written by the japanese ambassador in Berlin.


It's a telegram destined for Tokyo announcing the strange death of King Boris III and marked most secret, to be handled with discretion. It's been intercepted and decoded by the British. Halfway down it says that, you know, there's suspicions that the king was poisoned. And then in black and white here it says, by a british or soviet plot. Well, we've discounted the Brits, but what about the Russians? Because the telegram says something else. It says, the communists are lying low for the time being. Their time is not yet ripe for action. Not yet. But within a year of Boris death, the Red army will have marched into Sofia and occupied Bulgaria. So was it the Soviets who wanted Boris out of the way? Soviet plot. I mean, that's. There we are. I mean, it's in black and white. For me, that. That adds a whole new dimension to this. Next time on the Butterfly king, Bulgaria's fortunes run red. A lot of people afterwards were caught and accused and a lot of people just disappeared. Beard and a ghastly exhumation for the royal children.


So they brought the coffin, and the coffin was of course, with a little glass window. And so we children saw our papa three years after he had died.


The Butterfly King is a production of Blanchard House and exactly right media, hosted by me, Becky Milligan. It's written and produced by Emma Jane Kirby. Original music is by Daniel Lloyd Evans, Louis Nankmannell, and Toby Matimol. Sound design and engineering by Toby Matamong and Daniel Lloyd Evans. Artwork by Vanessa Lilac. The managing producer is Amika Shortino Nolan. The creative director of Blanchard House is Rosie Pye. The executive producer and head of content at Blanchard House is Lawrence Grizel. For exactly right media, the executive producers are Karen Kilgareth, Georgia Hard Stark, and Daniel Cramer, with consulting producer Kyle Ryan. The Butterfly King is inspired by the book Hitler and the King by John Hall Spencer. Follow the Butterfly King on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen so you don't miss an episode. If you like what you hear, leave us a rating and a review.