The Aftermath of the Royal Garden Party

Ambassador's Residence across lawn, photo by Theodor Horydczak, undated (Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress)

Ambassador’s Residence across lawn, photo by Theodor Horydczak, undated (Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress)

Ronald Lindsay’s tenure as Ambassador to the United States finally came to an end in the summer of 1939, following the King and Queen’s trip to Washington and then on to New York. Lady Lindsay, exhausted from the preparations and attending criticism of those events, struggled to pack up from the Ambassador’s Residence, her main home for the past nine years. Her friend and editor of her letters, Olivia James, noted: “It is a pity that Elizabeth had neither time nor heart to write a description of the Royal Visit.”  Friends acknowledged the ordeal she had been through; Mildred Bliss of Dumbarton Oaks, a Foreign Service wife herself (who with her husband Robert attended the Royal garden party) wrote to her at this time that she knew of no one “in or out of Diplomacy, who has more generosity of spirit and less bitterness”.

King George VI & Queen Elizabeth procession in front of the Mayflower Hotel (where the Lindsays first stayed upon their arrival in Washington). Theodor Horydczak June 1939 (Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

King George VI & Queen Elizabeth procession in front of the Mayflower Hotel (where the Lindsays first stayed upon their arrival in Washington). Theodor Horydczak June 1939 (Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

It was Bliss who spear-headed a group of Washington friends to present to Lindsay upon her departure a piece of jewelry representing various aspects of her life. There was also a gift book (now unidentified) from the Dumbarton Oaks Bindery. On the verso of the title page was a adapted quote from Bacon’s Essay XIII, Of Goodness and Goodness of Nature: “Her heart is no island, cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them.” Lindsay later wrote to Bliss: “It is one of the creations of Dumbarton Oaks & it is obviously a work of beauty. It was conceived by you, & certainly the words which I cannot look at with a dry eye are yours. Only you could have (or would have) used that quotation from Bacon.”  A few days later, she added, “As long as I live my dear I will always remember every detail of what you have been to me, & done for me, in this last year … P.S. My last note from here. My first from a new life will be to you.”

There is a form letter in the Bliss Papers of Harvard University that reads:

July 2nd 1939 Dumbarton Oaks Georgetown Washington D.C.

Dear [blank]
The fund for the farewell gift to Elizabeth Lindsay reached $1357. With it we had designed and made a brooch-pendant, of which a photograph is enclosed.
As you will see, it combines the white rose of England (a carved moonstone), the thistle of Scotland (carved amethyst) and the goldenrod of the United States (carved topaz). The leaves are of green onyx and the stems of the spray outlined with enamel. The encircling ring and the loop are set with amethysts and onyx.
With the jewel was given a little book bound at the Dumbarton Oaks Bindery, with the following dedication:
To
Elizabeth Lindsay
whose courage and dignity
heart and understanding
have graced her high statin
as Ambassadress of Great Britain

This symbol of admiration
for the spirit with which she has upheld
her two Loyalties
during nine arduous years
is offered with affection
by her friends

July MCMXXXIX

There followed 71 names.

The following quotation, from Bacon’s Essay XIII, was placed on the verso of the title page:

“Her heart is no island, cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them.”

Sincerely yours,

Frontispiece of The Letters of Elizabeth Sherman Lindsay, showing the jade figures given her by the Blisses.

Frontispiece of The Letters of Elizabeth Sherman Lindsay, showing the jade figures given her by the Blisses.

Alice Acheson   Marie Beale
Mildred Bliss  Mabel Boardman
Alice Coffin  Marion Glover

Notes & Bibliography
Corresponded quoted form the Harvard University Archives, Papers of Robert Woods Bliss and Mildred Barnes Bliss, HUGFP 76.8, Box 28.
James, Olivia, edited by. The letters of Elizabeth Sherman Lindsay, 1911-1954. New York: Privately printed, 1960.
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