DINNER AT ST. JAMES PALACE

 

Muriel and Bob first met the Prince of Wales in 1925 when he attended their performance at the cabaret Le Boeuf Sur le Toit in Paris. He immediately became a fan and when they began headlining at the Night Lite Club in London in 1926, he often came to see them.

Click here to see Muriel's diary

Click here to read Muriel’s actual diary

The Prince invited them to be the guests of honor to what he described a “small, intimate dinner party” at his residence, St. James Palace in London. Below is Muriel’s diary entry for December 8, 1926, the day after the party. Following is a transcription for ease of reading. We have transcribed it exactly, so you can read first hand Muriel’s exuberant spirit as she recalls the events of the night before. It includes the misspellings, an army of dashes, and with no periods, commas or other clues as to where sentences start and stop! So jump in…you’ll figure it out…and enjoy this highly entertaining journey with Muriel and her own unique take on this remarkable dinner party!  Grab a cup of tea and enjoy!

 

 

A description of the dinner party at St James Palace

with H.R.H. (Prince of Wales) as our Host – Dec. 7th 1926.

Bob and I drove through the gate, in the old taxi, with our hearts in our throats – Little did we dream we would ever be driving into this lovely old courtyard of St James Palace, to attend a party as guests of the Prince of Wales – Our taxi came to a halt at a huge door and a servant came slowly up to the cab and with much bowing escorted us into the large reception hall of the Palace – Here he helped us with our (wraps) and with a knowing smile beckoned us to follow. 

Muriel in the dress Coco Chanel designed for her and she wore to the dinner at St. James Palace

Muriel in the silver lame dress Coco Chanel designed for her and that she wore to the dinner at St. James Palace

 Finally we came to two large doors – these were swung open by another butler – dressed in – red coat, black bloomers pants, and low shoes. I felt exactly like “Alice in Wonderland” and expected any minute to waken with a start to find it all a dream – When the doors opened – there before our eyes was a long table – filled with faces all looking our way – glittering jewels on the heads of the elegant woman – and polite smiles on the faces of the “elegant” gentleman. A huge chandelier of brilliant crystals was hanging over the dining table – and this was set into gold – “everything”.

HRH The Prince of Wales

HRH The Prince of Wales

All this I saw as we stood in the doorway waiting for His Royal Highness to come to us and at last he arrived. I curtsied and Bob bowed low. The Prince said things like – “he was delighted we could come” and “hoped we wouldn’t think them too rude for having started before we arrived” – etc etc – (We had to be a little late because of doing a show before this party) So we were seated – Bob at the Prince’s left and I at his right – at the head of this long impressive table. The guests were all of the nobility – with the exception of two – and these were millionaire playboys. Next to Bob sat the Duke and Duchess of York and by me was the Hon. Mrs. Crighten – a charming woman who is one of the leaders in London’s social set. 

I can’t recall what we had to eat but one thing- this was a large, angry looking lobster brought to me on a golden tray. His great “Feelers” or whatever they are – claws I guess – daring me to touch – I did – with golden spoon and fork – and tried to look at ease through it all. (The only place one should eat this wild thing is in your own bathtub completely nude)

Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire

After the “supper” was over the Prince pushed back his chair and we followed him to the doors – there we stood on either side of him as each guest filed by and was formally introduced to us – after much bowing – curtsying – The last in line were Fred and Adele Astaire – We all but fell in each others arms – It was so good to shake a hand & say a simple “Hello”. On up the great stairs we all went to gather in the drawing room for an evening of “plain” fun – There was music – songs and the things that happen at any party at home. But I couldn’t keep from looking around every now and then at all this lovely old splendor – and think of all the history that had been made right in this very room – It was hard to believe that I – Muriel Taylor – was perhaps sitting in the same chair used by one Ann Bolen. (Boleyn)

Adele Astaire

Adele Astaire

 This was an adventure I will keep with me all the rest of my life – It was a most thrilling and beautiful experience – The Prince is a sad little chap – and I believe he would give anything in this world to get out of all the pomp and restrictions – He wants to be a simple human being – His brother the Duke of York – a tall gaunt fellow- who stutters dreadfully trying all the time to make you like him – He wanted to talk with me all evening and at times it was difficult – he would tell me stories – and it would take him so long to get them told – Poor chap – His Duchess – is very charming – a plain looking dumpy little soul – and if you took off all her finery she would be plain Mrs. Brown or Smith from any little town at home – She wanted to know all about my home & life in California. Seemed so interested in things – 

Bob & Muriel

Bob & Muriel

 This evening I will keep in my memories forever and ever – It was something that doesn’t happen to many people in a lifetime – I am a very lucky girl –

 

Be sure to join us next Monday when we will share another  of the stories from that evening that Muriel didn’t include in her diary, after all all, everyone should know the answer to the age old question, “Where do you pee in the Palace?”