God Save the Queen
For the Queen’s 85th Birthday, 2011, From Westminster Abbey
The Windsors and the Peerys go way back. To celebrate my return to active play in Diplomacy, as England of all Powers, here's a bit of the history of the comings and goings of the Windsors to San Diego and the Peerys (Well, one of them) to London; and when and where their paths crossed. If you don't find it informative, I hope you'll find it entertaining. Please take a moment to watch and listen to the clips. You may also find it useful to look at a map of San Diego and Coronado, California. There's lots of information on The Royals on Wikipedia.
Our story begins in the mountainous and desert wilds of northern Mexico where USA General John J. Pershing is chasing the Mexican bandito/patriot who has fled into Mexico after launching an invasion of the United States. Pershing has the advantage of a trained force equipped with the latest in transportation (e.g. horses and mules) and weaponry (a few machine guns), but Villa has the advantage of a loyal and fierce rag-tag force that knows the terrain. (You can read the details on Wikipedia.)
Of more particular interest to us is Pershing's paymaster, Paul D. Peery. Peery followed Pershing around on his own horse, pulling a donkey that carried a small portable trunk/desk that served as the force's link to the outside world. On the other side the donkey carried a chest filled with thousands in gold and silver used to pay the soldiers or purchase needed supplies. It was strictly a "cash and carry" operation since no Mexican would accept U.S. paper money, and Pershing insisted that all supplies "requisitioned" for his little army be paid for. It was all great practice for Pershing, who would later be Allied Commander in Europe.
The expedition lasted eight months and when it was over Peery paid off the troops, sent them home, and left the Army, forever after known as Lt. Paul D. Peery, USA Rtd. Within months he took his trunk/desk, new bride in tow, and moved to Coronado, California. Local lore says that he purchased a lot on 2nd Street across from the new Hotel Del Coronado for $1,000 in gold, a gift from his Army comrades; and that he and his wife built a lovely home for another $2,000, also paid for in gold. Peery went on to a two-tracked career as a carillonist (including some forty years as the civic carillonist for the City of San Diego) and writing teacher. He eventually passed away, his widow sold the home for several million dollars, and married a retired professional golfer named Billy Casper. Both were in their eighties by then, and the newly weds bought a new home in Rancho Santa Fe just over the hill from what became the San Diego Polo Club.
I first heard about this family history when I was living in Coronado myself, a few blocks from the original Peery home. I was going through the goodies at a yard sale when I spotted an old green trunk/desk marked Property of U.S. Army. The thing weighed a ton and was made out of solid hardwood with metal hinges, locks, etc. Except for one bullet hole it looked great! The front side opened up to serve as a desk, and the inside was filled with various wooden compartments, boxes, etc. It was the perfect portable office. The retired Navy officer who sold it to me for $20 said it had belonged to Pershing's paymaster during the Pancho Villa expedition. At the time I didn't know who that was. Later I learned. The trunk/desk became one of my most valuable treasures. Alas, in 2001 it disappeared during a garage sale when I sold the family home. I often wonder what became of it. But, I'm geting ahead of the story…
By 1920 Paul and his bride were in their new home, and social life in Coronado revolved around the local Navy base, its officers, and the Hotel Del Coronado. All that was to change that year when Edward, the Prince of Wales, stopped in Coronado and stayed at the Del, on a lay-over on his way to Australia and New Zealand. Edward, the most eligible bachelor in the world, was taken with the place, and the locals went crazy about him. Here's the story on that.
Edward and Mrs. Simpson
From this KPBS article by Randy Dotinga:
Prince Charles Visits Coronado, 1971
During his service in the Royal Navy Prince Charles visited Coronado and the local Navy base. I happened to be living in Coronado at the time and I wasn't even aware that The Prince was in town. I had gone for a morning walk with my dog on the beach between the Hotel Del Coronado and the North Island Naval Air Station when I noticed three men coming toward me up the beach. One was in a wet suit and carrying a surfboard. Another was carrying a good-sized canvas bag, and the third had cop written all over him. It wasn't until the three got close to me that I realized who the surfer was. The ears were a dead giveaway. I smiled, as did he. I welcomed him to Coronado. He paused to petthe dog, and asked me where the good surfing spots were. I explained to him that because of the nature of the beach and the direction it faced there really weren't any good surfing spots around. He looked a bit disappointed and the three continued walking north, back toward the Navy base; while I stood and watched.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Visit San Diego, 1983
Bryn Trefel, Last Night of the Proms, 2008
The Queen and Prince Philip boarded HMV Britannia in Mexico before sailing north on a state visit that ended in Seattle. Britannia, the only Navy ship in the world at the time commanded by an Admiral, flew the royal standard as it sailed into San Diego Bay escorted by thousands of local yachts. During her visit The Royals visited The Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Old Globe Theater, attended services at St. Paul's Cathedral (Local lore has it that the Queen dropped a 5 pound note in the collection plate; and the pew she sat in is roped off and reserved for visiting Royals.), hosted a dinner for several hundred locals on board the Britannia; and in her remarks found time to thank Americans for their support of the UK during the Falklands War, and remind them that her voyage was recreating one 400 years earlier by Sir Francis Drake during which he claimed New Albion, as he dubbed it, forever for the British crown. The Queen stressed she had no intention of pressing the claim.
While the Queen was here I had a chance to see her at The Old Glove and to tour the Britannia at dockside. The only snafu during the visit came when a local councilman made the mistake of touching the Queen (e.g. patting her on the bank). Observers noted the Queen looked shocked at the contact. Among the locals who attended the banquet on ship the most talked about dish was the braised celery (Featured for months on every local's party menu) and the fact that all the flowers used in decorating the banquet hall were brought from England on the ship.
The Royals Love Their Ponies, 1984
The Queen Mum loved her ponies, mostly to bet on. The Queen loved them and not only rode, but also raised them and had several boarded in Kentucky, where she occasionally made "private" visits to check on her horses. Philip, Charles, William and Harry all played polo, but the best equestrian among the Royals was Princess Anne, the Princess Royal.
Both Philip and Anne made several visits to Los Angeles and San Diego for the 1984 Olympics equestrian events, including charity events at the San Diego Polo Club. I had a chance to observe both. Even though he was no longer the dashing young Navy officer that attracted then Princess Elizabeth's eye, Philip still had an eye for a pretty girl; and a vocabulary more suited to a sailor than a Royal. Anne, on the other hand, apparently had spent too much time around the horses and, to be honest, was starting to look like them.
Meeting the Queen Mum, London, 1988
Queen Mother’s Funeral Procession
Procession to Westminster Abbey, 2008, Live
I spent three weeks in London in 1988 doing the things that American tourists love to do when they visit London. One day I walked over to St. Paul's Cathedral to visit Wren's masterpiece. When I walked inside I came face to face with an information desk presided over by a very aristocratic elderly lady. She spotted me as a Yank right off and we engaged in some small talk before I went off on my self-guided tour.
Later, when I was about to leave I stopped by the desk and she was still there. I mentioned to her that one of my favorite works of art was the famous photograph of St. Paul's taken during the Blitz showing the dome of the Cathedral rising above the clouds of smoke from the bombs. She looked at me strangely and said, "Oh yes," and disappeared into an office. A few minutes later she reappeared carrying a small, eight inch by ten inch, photo in a simple black frame. She showed me the picture, and asked if that was the one I meant. Lo and behold, so it was. She told me that was the original and had hung in the Dean's office ever since the War.
She saw me eying a billboard advertising (if that's the right word) an upcoming concert by the Choirsters of St. Paul's, under the patronage of the Queen Mother. and asked if I was interested in choir music. She did not ask if I was an Anglican. I told her I was, and she suggested I might like to attend the benefit concert. I decided it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and so I pulled out my packet of traveller's checks (Yes, in those days people still travelled with them, although it was my first experience using them). I pulled one out from the back of the packet without bothering to look at it. I counter-signed it and handed it over. She looked at it, smiled nicely, and hanged me a ticket, telling me to be sure to find her when I arrived for the concert.
Two days later, in my best blue blazer and red, white, and blue striped tie I walked over to St. Paul's. The front of the Cathedral and the square was filled with a slowly moving line of Rolls Royces and Bentleys, each pausing the let its passengers get out. The line slowly snaked its way into the Church. I fell in behind an old Royal Navy officer wearing enough medals and ribbons to capsize a ship, with his lady wearing enough diamonds to blind Andreas Bocelli. We chatted a bit and they said it was nice to see an American who appreciated "good" music. Once inside we passed the information desk into the formal receiving line.
Turning a corner I came face-to-face with the lady who had sold me the ticket. Her eyes lit up as she saw me, just as my Navy officer came to attention and his lady curtsied. I couldn't see around them to see who they were curtsing to, but I debated what I, as an American, should do: bow, genuflect, or kow tow. The ticket lady was wearing a stunning long gown, with sash, and tiara. She looked every bit a Royal, and for all I know she was. She smiled, took my hand, and turned to introduce me to the little lady standing next to her, who was in an equally long gown, an even more splendid sash, and wearing a tiara that was almost a crown. She whispered something to her, and the little lady flashed me a bright smile and said something to the effect that it was nice to have an American so generously supporting the work of the Choirsters, and I was on my way.
The concert was good and the choirsters sang like angels. It wasn't until the next day when I was going through my funny money and packet of traveller's checks that I realized I was short one, one hundred pound traveller's check. I knew I hadn't spent one and when I checked the register and serial numbers I saw the last check was missing. Ah, so that was my "generous" donation to the Choirsters.
A Close Encounter with Prince Charles and Princess Diana, London 1989
It was a few weeks after the St. Paul's Concert and I had walked down the Mall to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the Guard because, after all, that's what Americans did when they went to London. There was a good crowd in front of the Palace when I got there and I took a place in front of the statue of Queen Victoria, as close to the Palace gate as I could get. The crowd got bigger and noisier as the time for the ceremony approached.
Suddenly I noticed the gates swing open and a bunch of traffic police coming out and pushing people aside to clear a path; which seemed a bit strange because there were no marching guards or band to be seen. I turned around to see if they were behind me, but all I saw were people pushing and shoving to get out of the way. I turned around just in time to see a royal household limo come flying through the gate, complete with royal standard waving. The car was moving at a good speed and I barely had time to notice the passengers in the back seat. It was Charles and Diana.
The car passed perhaps ten feet from me. And then they were gone. The crowd reformed, the guards went through their change ceremony; and it wasn't until that night while watching the BBC news that I first heard of a town called Lockerbie and Pan Am Flight 103.
Prince and Princess Michael of Kent Visit San Diego, 1992
From this LA Times article by David Nelson:
I had seen many of the works on display when I was in London, but it was nice to see them again. Prince Michael looks more like his Russian cousins then he does his English relatives. His wife was lovely, Austrian, a Roman Catholic and divorced to boot. Michael gave up his claim to the throne as a condition of marriage. Interestingly, the couple's two children are still in the line of succession (40th or so, I think). Michael is one of the more interesting of The Royals and you can read about him in Wikipedia. For years he's managed the Royals financial affairs and investments, including The Crown Trust.
And last, here's an article from People magazine on the most recent Royal visit to San Diego:
A Kind of Magic
Queen, 1986, Live from Wembley Stadium
Perhaps it's a coincidence, but I noted The Prince of Wales, who became Edward VIII visited Coronado, as did Prince Charles, as did Prince Harry. All while serving in the military.
The Queen visited San Diego, but did not visit Coronado. Prince Philip visited San Diego. The Princess Royal, Anne, visited San Diego, as did Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
The Queen Mum and Princess Diana never visited either. Camilla has not.
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