I never met Winston Churchill or Princess Margaret. My brother marched behind Churchill’s coffin when he was a young officer in the Irish Guards and Uncle George (aka Sir George Bellew) helped arrange the elaborate funeral.
Uncle George as Garter had done a lot of organising for the Coronation and was recalled from retirement to advise on Churchill’s funeral. Cecil Beaton writes about Coronation Day in his diary.
From the mirror doors of the Green Drawing Room I spied the Queen with her ladies, her excited children; the family asking questions, jokes, smiles, laughter the high-pitched voices of the Queen and Princess Margaret heard above the others. The Duchess of Gloucester was leaning forward from the hips with almost perilous intent. The Duke of Norfolk, his duties successfully carried out, lolled behind one of the mirrored-glass doors. Sir George Bellew, Garter King-at-Arms, leant against the brocade walls. The fair, good-looking Duke of Hamilton beamed.
No prizes for guessing who Cecil fancied and it wasn’t Princess Margaret, or Uncle George, although he goes on to write:
The Queen Mother, dimpled and chuckling, with eyes as bright as any of her jewels, and her younger daughter, with pink and white make-up and a sex twinkle of understanding in her regard, was now sailing towards me, her purple train being held aloft by her four pages.
A friend met Princess Margaret through a mutual friend, the novelist Angela Huth. She asked my friend to the theatre in the West End. Like me he is a stickler for punctuality and he got panicky having drinks at Ken Pal that they would be late. “They don’t start until I arrive” was PM’s riposte. He never told me what the play was but afterwards the party went back to Ken Pal for an informal supper. There was a footman behind every chair.
He was unsure how to reciprocate her hospitality but she evinced interest in visiting him in his rooms at his Oxford college. He invited his students, opened a bottle of sherry and then, to their amazement, presented them to Princess Margaret. Later a gossip columnist called the Master of his college about her visit. The Master said that it was out of the question that Princess Margaret should have visited his college without his knowledge. She had.
Oh dear, I’ve got so carried away down memory lane that I must defer my thoughts about Craig Brown’s “biography” of Princess Margaret and Darkest Hour about Churchill. I’m not sure why I haven’t given my friend’s name – he has appeared on these pages before – but, hey, we’re playing the Name Game.