The Perils of Royal Protocol, 1914

Today’s post was written by David Langbart, archivist in Research Services at the National Archives at College Park, MD.

On June 4, 1914, U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain Walter Hines Page presented the following individuals to King George V:

  • Mr. Ralph Page (the ambassador’s son)
  • Mrs. Ralph Page
  • Mrs. Edward Bell (wife of the Second Secretary of the embassy)
  • Miss Esther Cleveland
  • Mrs. Randolph Mordecai
  • Miss Margarita Pennington
  • Miss Dorothy Doubleday
  • Miss Mary Sanger
list of the people presented at Court on June 4, 1914
Presentations at Court, June 4, 1914 (NAID 594086)

A person previously presented at court had to apply on behalf of those to be presented.  As the Ambassador, Page had presented his credentials to the King on May 30, 1913, and was thus eligible to present others.  Young Page and his wife, Bell, and Cleveland were presented in the “Diplomatic Circle” and Mordecai, Pennington, Doubleday, and Sanger were presented in the “General Circle.”

showing people presented as part of the General circle
Presentations at Court, June 4, 1914 (NAID 594086)

Unfortunately, shortly after the visit, one of those presented fell victim to the standards then in place for royal presentations and was stricken from the list.  After the presentation, the embassy learned that Mrs. Mordecai was divorced from a Mr. Pennington, likely the father of Margarita Pennington.  As an annotation in the register notes, “at the private request of the Lord Chamberlain (Lord Sandhurst) she is to be regarded by the Embassy as not having been presented at Court; her named having been removed by Lord Sandhurst from the Court lists.”  In response, her name was lined out in the embassy’s register.  Presumably, divorce indicated a lack of the good moral and social character needed for presentation at Court.   

While this action was ostensibly for the reason explicitly stated, the name leaves the possibility of an unstated reason for deletion.

Source: “Presentations at Court,” volume 1777, US Diplomatic Records for Great Britain, Entry UD-23 (NAID 594086), RG 84: Records of Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.  This register covers the period from February 28, 1878, to June 5, 1914. 

3 thoughts on “The Perils of Royal Protocol, 1914

  1. fascinating info–all about prominent people of whom i had never heard about.. Thanks–J&L

  2. In 1913, Britain had at least two Jewish Cabinet ministers (Samuel and Isaacs). There were Jews in sizeable numbers in both houses of Parliament and in government. Many of those people would have been presented at court without problem. There is simply nothing to support the insinuation at the end of the blog post.

  3. While there was a Jewish presence in the government and Parliament in 1914, anti-Semitism was still a force in British society, so that angle cannot be ruled out

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