Congressional Trip IV: Scotland and back to London
We took the train to Glasgow where we were met by the Lord Mayor. We lunched at Roseneath Castle and the guests were the American contractors and US Navy officers in charge of a US submarine base in Scotland. None of us had known of its existence but here it was nearing completion!
We had dinner with some of the officers of the Polish Army in Exile and it was an unforgettable occasion. The night before a German bomb had narrowly missed their main headquarters building . They were the most exuberant bunch of men you could ever meet. None had any self-pity and each one had had an extraordinary escape from Poland. Some dressed as nuns, others in laundry baskets, etc. and none had heard from their families for two years
There was lots of vodka and one of the officers started playing the piano, Chopin and other Polish composers. Soon a chorus started singing Polish national songs, and I felt like being part of a real life opera - very real . Several of the officers I met were friends for many years.
Next day I agreed to have the Congressmen lunch with the Polish Air Force but only on the condition that they would guarantee to get the Congressmen to Edinborough before 5:00 o'clock because the Lord Mayor was having a reception for the group.
Well the lunch was thrilling but the individual pilots all seemed like daredevils and completely unrealistic. They made us see this and that and of course we didn't arrive in Edinborough until hours after the Lord Mayor's reception was over. They were profuse in their apologies and loaded with charm.
[back to London ...]
But I asked the Congressmen if I could make a personal engagement and they agreed. One was to have tea with the Vicar of Windsor Castle. A nephew of his was a friend of mine. He said, "You must go - he's a great guy and Windsor Castle is fabulous." So I did. I drove there in a big Daimilar car and the guards came to attention making me feel like Royalty. The Vicar was charming and brilliant but Windsor Castle was thrilling.
The other engagement was lunch with Chips Channon whom I had met in NY. He called me and said"the King of Greece is coming for lunch next Thursday. Please try to come." Since the Congressmen agreed, I called and accepted.
A couple of days later Chips called again saying, "Henry, you must be on time because HRH Princess Marina, the Duchess of Kent, is coming also. Chips was a famous host to the high and mighty. His house on Belgrade Square was famous, and his dining room was described in detail in Somerset Maugham's book "The Razor's Edge."
The lunch was delicious and the conversation a delight. One had to remember to whom to bow, etc. Marina, the Duchess of Kent, was the most beautiful lady of her time and I was enchanted. I was thrilled when she asked if I could come to dinner with her the next week. But alas we were leaving before that to return to the US. [A year ago when I met her son, Prince Michael of Kent, I told about that lunch and he said, "My parents' house was next door to Chip's house.]
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