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Partying with Royals in London (1930)

Lord Glenavy with his
 children Patrick and Biddy

This is a continuation of a jot from March 2014 featuring  a good letter, over 20 closely written pages found among some papers bought in Ireland.  Indiscreet, gossipy ('The Prince  of Wales was blotto..') from the inner circles of power and privilege in 1930 and like something out of Waugh's Vile Bodies. The recipient was Beatrice Elvery, Lady Glenavy (1881 - 1970). Irish artist and literary host, friend of Katherine Mansfield and friend of Shaw, Lawrence and Yeats. She modelled for Orpen and painted 'Éire' (1907) a landmark painting promoting the idea of an independent Irish state. The letter is from her husband Charles Henry Gordon Campbell, 2nd Baron Glenavy (1885–1963) politician and banker in England and Ireland. This is from the last two pages, the letter ends on a scrap of 'Irish Free State Delegation' paper.

I had to go to a party at  Buckingham Palace, they were much the same people as at Londonderry (an earlier party)   but Kipling and Barrie instead of Elinor Glyn and Mrs Stevens. Lady Jowitt was all over us to go to another cocktail party but I rather shrank from meeting Mary Hutchinson. I met Plucky's mother in law, Lady Melchett. The Prince of Wales is a wretched looking old-young man who would be quite insignificant if he hadn't large eyes of a brilliant blue. The Queen's bosom reaches form her chin to her pelvis and anyone talking to her has to stand about five feet away. The Duchess of York is quite simple and pleasant looking;  Winston Churchill remembered me and got into a conversation about the Xmas day I spent in his room at the Ministry of Munitions which attracted quite a crowd.

In the evening we had an official reception and a dance which was quite good fun. Tell Granny that Lord Amulree  (the new Minister of Air) flutters breeches (?) and a lot of MP's were asking for him…Lady Drogheda & her daughter were there (the latter a terrific beauty) dodging the cardinals and Bishops (in England RC clerics have enormous pot-bellies) because Lady D has been scandalised, divorced or something. Shaw couldn't come because he had been up late with *Einstein the night before…  I danced with Isabel MacDonald a couple of times -  a homely retiring sort of girl.

Towards the end I got off** with a terrific beaut who said she worked at the Slade ( I'm rather doubtful) + we were going to go on somewhere when Mrs McGilligan attacked me furiously for taking no notice of her & Desmond Fitzgerald came up & said he had promised the Droghedas I'd bring Mrs G on to the Egyptian Embassy - which was celebrating the anniversary of the accession of King Fuad. After hours of quarrelling I had to go on there. When we arrived it was so late that the Droghedas had gone, nobody knew us & all the fahmizos (?)  that lined the hall in gorgeous gold and scarlet were very dubious about letting us in. However Mrs McG began braying at the top of her voice that she had had a rotten evening and was going up to dance whether they liked it or not…so she threw her coat on a chair and dragged me me upstairs where we found half a dozen Egyptian young men and gorgeous ministers or deputy ministers all covered with medals and stars and sashes. There were only 7 or 8 people dancing and  a few more sitting about. The women weren't very young and looked as if Egyptian comforters were trying for the complexion (?)…lilacs and orchids everywhere..we bounded about until 3 in the morning speaking to no-one and were the last to leave. We did as an afterthought say goodbye to the Egyptian minister and found him bursting to talk about the Rotunda** where, in what capacity I couldn't make out, he served 3 years under Tweedy. This morning I had to be down ****here at 10 and am writing this to keep myself awake while Ramsay McDonald maunders on about things he doesn't understand…

*This is George Bernard Shaw who had  made a speech at the Savoy Hotel in London on Oct. 28, 1930, at a public dinner in Einstein's honour sponsored by a committee to help Jewish refugees in Eastern Europe. It dates this royal party as 29 October 1930.

** "Get off" may have had a different connotation 85 years ago. Must check Green. Eric Partridge dates its earliest use as 1925: "To form an initial  liaison with someone sexually attractive especially with a view to greater intimacy."

*** Possibly the hospital in Dublin?

**** Almost certainly the House of Commons

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3 thoughts on “Partying with Royals in London (1930)

  1. Anonymous

    That little boy in the photo grew up to be a very funny eccentric man who was on telly a lot in the 60s and 70s. Patrick Campbell. As I recall he had a stammer which is unusual in media. He can be found on youtube in Call my Bluff. His father seems to have also liked a laugh.

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  2. admin Post author

    Many thanks Jim. The world has may Rotundas so I was not sure but I guess Tweedy was the clincher + Baron Glenavy's Irish background.

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