Monday, August 5, 2013

The Prince of Wales and Other Royal Visitors

In the 1920s, the President was expected to entertain on a demanding schedule steeped in tradition. Royals and foreign heads of state came to meet the President, even when the purpose of their trip took them primarily to other parts of the country. When compared with the annual receptions for the diplomatic corps, the Senate, the House and the Supreme Court when about 2000 guests were invited each time, the Coolidges’ parties for royalty were smaller and more intimate.

Calvin and Grace’s most famous royal guest was the Prince of Wales (later the Duke of Windsor) who spent less than two hours in the capital for an informal reception on August 30, 1924, just after death of Calvin Coolidge, Jr. According to a newspaper account, both the Prince and the Coolidges were happy to keep the event low key. The Prince was often in the popular press, a celebrity in his era. He was the great-grandson of Queen Victoria, and later royal visitors were also descendants of the venerable monarch.

In 1926, the Crown Prince and Princess of Sweden came to the United States to promote their country’s interests. Prince Gustaf Adolph became king in 1950 at age 67 and reigned until his death in 1973. His wife, Crown Princess Louise was a great granddaughter of Queen Victoria, born Princess Louise of Battenberg (now Mountbattan). She was Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh’s aunt.

During a trip across the country from New York to San Francisco with a stop in Washington, D.C., public interest was great, and the Swedish couple acquired a reputation for having the common touch. On May 28, 1926, the President and First Lady entertained 52 people at an 8 p.m. dinner. The table was decorated with pink roses, snapdragons and maidenhair fern. The White House staff kept good records of these details.
The Princess expressed her strong ideas about the equality of women during the trip, because of her experience as a nurse before her marriage and her work with the Red Cross later. She and Grace Coolidge might have had an interesting chat.

The Queen of Romania and two of her children visited in the same year, 1926. Queen Marie was a celebrity in the 1920s so her visit will be described in our next blog post.