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June 8, 1939

“WASHINGTON, Wednesday…Three people I met yesterday asked me just how to greet the King and Queen, if they have an opportunity to meet them. That reminded me of a story told me in the Yosemite about one of the oldest rangers who was with me on a camping trip. Billy Nelson had accompanied King Albert and the Queen of the Belgians when they went through the Yosemite on their visit to the United States immediately after the World War. They were a charming, royal couple and they understood well the real value of human beings. I am sure that one look at Ranger Billy Nelson’s face assured them that he was a grand person. He had been carefully coached, however, as to the proper way of addressing royalty. When he stood before King Albert, he forget everything and, with a reminiscent chuckle, he told me: “I just said `Howdy King’ and held out my hand.”

I forgot to mention yesterday that the little village of Hyde Park is all decorated in anticipation of the visit of the King and Queen. Every farmer in the vicinity is praying for rain because the crops need it very badly, but I feel sure that the village officials will be deeply disturbed if the flags and bunting are ruined by any real downpour of rain.”

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June 11, 1939: FDR hosts a hot dog picnic at Top Cottage for King George IV and Queen Elizabeth of England.

Menu for the Picnic at Top Cottage with the British King and Queen

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Did you know:

  • On June 12, 1939 FDR addressed the graduating class of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY.
  • On June 10, 1940, FDR issued a proclamation of neutrality in the war between Italy, France and Great Britain.
  • On June 13, 1942, FDR issued the executive order establishing the Office of War Information and a military order establishing the Office of Strategic Services.

Of all the material you might find in an archive at a Presidential Library, who would have thought you’d find actual material?

Eleanor Roosevelt Papers: Visit of British Royalty 1939, Preparations for Visit.

Stapled to a press release preceding the 1939 Royal Visit by the King and Queen of England are two fabric swatches of wool from gowns to be made for Eleanor Roosevelt and Queen Elizabeth. The gowns were to be worn as a friendly gesture to the International Wool Growers of Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and the United States. The “Queen’s Blue” swatch, chosen by Queen Elizabeth, was made using American wool while the “Azure Blue” swatch for Eleanor Roosevelt was made from British wool.

Just imagine what it would have been like wearing wool in Washington D.C. in June!

To read the full press release, click the following: Wool Fabric Swatches. For more information about the 1939 Royal Visit, check out this special feature from our website.

June 11, 1939: FDR hosts a hot dog picnic at Top Cottage for King George IV and Queen Elizabeth of England.

Menu for the Picnic at Top Cottage with the British King and Queen

June 6, 1939

“HYDE PARK, N. Y., Monday—Now I must report to you, oh, gentle reader, that we have spent a very peaceful weekend in the country and I have had my first swim of the year out of doors. It was cool but invigorating, and sitting in the sun afterwards was very pleasant.

I am hoping very much that the King and Queen may like to swim. I am sure they like to walk, for all the English people I have ever known enjoy that exercise and really know how to walk, not saunter. So far, our woods are fairly free from mosquitoes and flies, so it would be pleasant to return to the Sunday afternoon pastime of my childhood and take a long walk, ending up with a swim. Perhaps, neither the King of England nor Queen Elizabeth enjoy swimming, for I haven’t seen a mention of it in any of the stories written about their trip.

I rather hope that is because Canada is somewhat colder than the United States. The particular lakes where they have been resting, must still be somewhat glacier-like. I remember swimming one summer in the St. Lawrence River, when my husband was Governor of New York and we were going from one canal to another along the river. It was very chilly amusement even in mid-summer.

If all the people who wish to send gifts to the King and Queen succeed, I think it will take an extra ship to carry these gift home. In self-defense we have had to say that everything has to be sent to the British Embassy. I imagine there is a policy of long standing which forces them to accept gifts only from personal friends. It is, however, a very pleasant gesture and I think our royal visitor will appreciate the kindly feeling which goes with every preferred gift, whether it is large or small.”

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