JUNE 12, 1939
HYDE PARK, Sunday—It is rare indeed when a schedule goes off so promptly that the official party is actually ahead of time! However, that is what happened in Washington on Friday.
I was crossing the hall with some mail in my hand when the head usher, Mr. Crim, came up breathlessly to announce that the Royal party had already left the Capitol. The President was changing his clothes and when I put my head in the door to announce the above fact, he gasped and said: "Will you and Lady Katherine Seymour go down and get into the car? I shall be there immediately."
We drove down to the Navy Yard with such speed that waving to the crowds was made difficult because we had to cling to our hats with a free hand and grab at straying locks of hair. We arrived to find the Cabinet and other members of the party all on board the "Potomac," went on board with due ceremony ourselves, and stood ready to receive our guests. Almost immediately the sound of cheering announced that the Royal party was close behind us.
When they arrived, the King said they had driven around several blocks and that he and the Chief of Police had held numerous consultations trying to delay their arrival. When they heard cheers, they knew that we must have passed so they followed immediately.
The trip down the river was very pleasant. Little tables were placed all over the decks and in the main cabin and ward room, and everyone seemed to enjoy their luncheon. We had barely finished, when Mount Vernon was sighted. They expected most of us to walk up the hill to Washington's tomb, so we allowed a little time for the rest of the party to arrive there. Then we went ashore to be greeted by Mrs. Horace M. Towner, regent of the Mt. Vernon Ladies Association, and Mr. Wall, who is now in charge. It was all beautifully arranged. After the laying of the wreath, we made the tour of the house and the gardens, where the old Scotch gardener, with his medals on, nearly fainted at the opportunity of presenting a bunch of flowers to Her Majesty and shaking hands with his King.
There was some mixup about where the cars were to meet us, but they were soon found and we were off again for our next stop, which was at the Civilian Conservation Corps camp. His Majesty was deeply interested in seeing the barracks and the mess hall. He looked over the menus served to the boys and asked the price which was spent on food for them per day. He then looked at photographs, put up for his inspection, of other camps. A whole collection of these photographs was sent over by Mr. Robert Fechner, Director of the Civilian Conservation Corps, for presentation to the King afterwards. I have a feeling he will examine them with care, for he seemed deeply interested in this government enterprise.
From there we went to Arlington. The ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier always is to me a deeply moving scene. Friday we went also to the Canadian Cross. In both places the King's demeanor added dignity to a scene which is always impressive and, when "taps" was played, I was not the only one who stood with a lump in my throat. Afterwards, several people told me that, to them, Arlington was the unforgettable moment of the whole day.
Home again and a half hour of rest before a very interesting group of people gathered on the lawn for tea. To me it is always a pity that one has to crowd so much into such a short time. I felt that both the King and Queen would have been glad to be able to hold longer talks with many of the men and women who, in the few minutes alotted to them, tried to crowd in the salient points of whatever subjects in which Their Majesties were interested.
By 6:00 o'clock, the President, the King, Elliott, Ruth and I were swimming in the pool. At 7:45, little Diana Hopkins and I were waiting in the hall for Their Majesties to come out of their rooms on their way to the British Embassy for dinner. Diana is a solemn little girl and she was speechless when the King and Queen came down the hall. She made her little curtsy to each one and when they asked her questions she managed to answer, but her eyes never left the Queen. After it was ever I said: "Diana, did she look as much like the fairy queen as you expected?" With a little gasp she said: "Oh, yes." And she did, for the Queen's spangled tulle dress with her lovely jewels and her tiara in her hair, made her seem like someone out of a story book.
They started ahead of us, of course, for the embassy, but when we drove along the streets, crowds lined them all the way and even when we came out at 10:30, the people were still there waiting to wave goodbye. They have a way of making friends, these young people! They went at once to their train, we returned to the White House to change and then went to ours, and reached Highland Saturday morning at nine-thirty.
Numerous details have taken up our time today. The old house has been filled with flowers by my mother-in-law's kind friends. Though there is not the same sense of space here as in the White House. I hope that the quiet of the country will be welcome after the busy days which Their Majesties have been through.
I took the press on a tour right after lunch on Saturday, and then unpacked and put my belongings in place, for this will be my headquarters for the rest of the summer. It is a joy to feel more or less settled.
Johnny arrived late Saturday afternoon. I am glad that, even though Anne cannot be here, he had an opportunity to meet Their Majesties so that he could tell Anne about them afterwards.
This morning we left the house at 10:50 to go to St. James' Church. I will tell you tomorrow about the rest of the day, for I fear that this column is somewhat long already.