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WASHINGTON, Friday—The long expected arrival of Their Britannic Majesties has at last taken place. We drove down yesterday through an avenue crowded with people. In the course of a long life I have seen many important events in Washington, but never have I seen a crowd such as lined the whole route between the Union Station and the White House yesterday. It was a gay and happy crowd in spite of the sun and heat.

Nothing lovelier than the picture of the Capitol and the Plaza could be imagined, and Their Majesties themselves made such a gracious impression, as they drove back with us through the crowds, that you could feel the enthusiasm growing. Cheers greeted them, not only all the way to the White House but everywhere that they appeared during the day.

I tried to tell the Queen1 something about the various buildings which we passed, but the noise was so deafening that I finally gave it up and let her devote herself to greeting the crowds. She carried a parasol, not being accustomed to our hot sunshine, and I think the children and grown people lining the road and wearing no hats, must have seemed to her very brave!

Luncheon was a very quiet meal with just the guests in the house and our own family, and for once my boys were subdued to such a degree that the President noticed it, and remarked to the Queen that it was rare when something did not bring about a vociferous argument in our family.

The schedule for a trip of this kind is so carefully arranged that very little time is left to be alone, or to do any personal writing. After driving about in the afternoon and attending the garden party at the British Embassy, the King, who might have liked to swim, was obliged to devote himself to what we would term "the mail." I imagine that any Head of State must sign his name to so many documents, whether he is at home or abroad, that a certain amount of time at a desk is part of the daily routine.

As we drove about the city, the crowds who waited in all the streets were not along the road for part of the time, at least, and this gave the whole party an opportunity to enjoy the shade and green of Rock Creek Park without the necessity of watching to respond to gestures of welcome at every turn.

It was interesting to me to find how understanding and sympathetic was the Queen's attitude toward the social problems faced today by everyone. It is quite evident that no nation is without these problems and that their solution is of world-wide interest. These sovereigns are young, and though the weight of responsibility matures people early, still one does not always find in sovereigns such ability or even desire to comprehend the problems which confront so many people in every country today, and which must be solved before we can feel that the average man and woman can have security and liberty.

I have never seen the State Dining Room at the White House or the table look lovelier than they did last night. The masses of pale white orchids with purple hearts, mixed with lilies-of-the-valley, baby's breath and sprays of smaller orchids, were used in decoration. The ladies wore their prettiest gowns and every gentleman who had a decoration put it on. It was a colorful sight and Her Majesty looked the part of the fairy queen which most children dream about.

The young people in the Cabinet group have been given the opportunity to meet Their Majesties. Only one very young member, Diana Hopkins, has not as yet had this opportunity, and I told the Queen that I thought Diana2 envisioned her with a crown and sceptre.

With true understanding, she responded that perhaps the child would be more satisfied if she saw her dressed for dinner, as that might be more like her dream, so this has been arranged.

This morning, at the end of my short press conference, Their Majesties were kind enough to meet the ladies of the press and walked down through the long aisle which they formed on either side of the corridor, bidding them good morning. It was well understood by all present that Their Majesties could attend no press conferences and were simply greeting the press as they would anywhere, and have done in Canada.

After this meeting, they left at once for the British Embassy. Then they will proceed to the Capitol and we will meet them on board the "Potomac" at 12 o'clock and proceed to Mt. Vernon.


Copyright, 1939, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

President and Mrs. Roosevelt with King George at Union Station.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Library

Footnotes & Resources

  1. Queen Elizabeth, 1900-2002, Consort of George VI, King of Great Britain
  2. Diana Hopkins Halsted, 1932-?, Daughter of Harry Hopkins and his second wife, Barbara Duncan who lived in the White House from 1940-1942

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