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White House - Royal And Titled Guests

( Originally Published 1908 )

A SCORE or more of members of the royal families of various countries, together with perhaps a hundred titled foreigners of distinction, have been guests at the White House during the one hundred and eight years of its existence. Among these was the Prince of Wales, now King Edward VII., of England, who for one week was a guest of President Buchanan at the White House. Lafayette was a guest at the President's house during the administration of John Quincy Adams. Prince Napoleon Bonaparte, son of Jerome Bona-parte, visited President Lincoln. The King of the Sandwich Islands and the Grand Duke Alexis, of Russia, were guests of President Grant, and two distinguished foreign ladies, the Infanta Eulalie, of Spain, and Queen Emma of Hawaii, were guests of Presidents Cleveland and Johnson.

Some details of the visits of these and other notable foreigners who stayed at the White House will be found in this article, together with mention of the visits of others no less honored by our Presidents.

President Roosevelt's Titled Visitors

Theodore Roosevelt has entertained a great number of royal and titled guests at the White House, including the Duke of the Abruzzi, who is a relative of the King of Italy, and who, at this writing, is reported to be engaged to marry the daughter of a United States Senator. Then there was the Crown Prince of Sweden, and the Rev. Charles Wagner, author of The Simple Life, Lord Curzon and others.

Perhaps the most distinguished of President Roosevelt's royal visitors, was Prince Henry of Prussia, brother of the German Emperor. He paid a visit to the White House on the afternoon of February 24, 1902. On arrival at the railroad station he was met by Secretary of State Hay and by Admiral Evans, with whom he drove to the White House. He was received by President Roosevelt in the Blue Parlor, and an interesting incident in connection with his presentation to the President was that he introduced himself to our Chief Executive, there being no one in Washington of a rank high enough to introduce a man of the rank of a German Prince of the blood royal.

From the Blue Parlor the Prince was led by President Roosevelt to the Green Room, where he met the ladies of Mr. Roosevelt's family. The call was entirely one of ceremony. That evening, however, a dinner was given at the White House in honor of Prince Henry, the banquet taking place in the East Room instead of, as usual, in the State Dining-room, in order the better to accommodate the great number of invited guests. Thousands of electric lights added to the brilliance of the scene, these lights being arranged in the form of all sorts of naval appurtenances of a ship of war, such as anchors, ropes, canopies, etc. No ladies were present. The menu was one that was copied in the press of the country as being of exceptional merit in the eyes of the guest of honor.

President Tyler's Titled Guest

A foreign and titled visitor of note, who visited the White House during the administration of President John Tyler, was the Prince de Joinville, a son of Louis Philippe of France. This young man had gained distinction for bringing the body of Napoleon Bonaparte home to France from the island of St. Helena. His age at the time of his visit here was only twenty-three, yet the whole nation honored him, while the President of the United States accorded him special honors, as the following account, written by an eye-witness of the ceremonies at the White House, Mrs. Fremont, daughter of Senator Benton, of Missouri, will show :

"President Tyler gave for Prince de Joinville not only the official dinner of ceremony, but a ball also. It was said there was Cabinet remonstrance against dancing in the White House as a `want of dignity', but Mr. Tyler rightly thought a dance would best please a young navy man and a Frenchman, and we had, therefore, a charming and unusually brilliant ball. All our army and navy officers were in uniform as the Prince and his suite wore theirs, and, for the son of a King, the Diplomatic Corps were in full court dress. Mrs. Tyler was an invalid, and saw only her old friends; but Mrs. Robert Tyler, the wife of the eldest son, was every way fitted to be the lady of the White House. From both her parents, especially her witty and beautiful mother, she had society qualifications and tact, while the President's youngest daughter was beautiful as well as gentle and pleasant.

"Mr. Webster as Secretary of State, was next to the President, the chief person. For fine appearance, for complete fitness for that representative position, both Mrs. Webster and himself have never been surpassed.

"The Prince was tall and fine-looking, and Miss Tyler and himself opened the ball, while those of us who knew French well were assigned to his officers.

"We had remained in the Oval reception-room until the company was assembled, and then, the President leading, the whole foreign party were taken through all the drawing-rooms, ending by our taking places for the Quadrille d'honneur in the East Room; that ceremony over, dancing became general."

A Bonaparte Entertained by Lincoln

Another titled visitor from France, one entertained by President Lincoln, was Prince Napoleon Bonaparte, son of Jerome Bonaparte. Of his visit to the White House, the news-papers of the time said:

"He called on the President at twelve o'clock, and was duly presented by the Secretary of State. The President received the Prince with marked courtesy, and welcomed him to the country in a few simple but hearty words of compliment. Without seeking, he said, to attach to this flattering visit of one so closely allied to the French throne, at this solemn crisis of the country's history, an undue importance, he could but feel that his presence at the Capital was a guarantee of the friendly interest and generous sympathy of the French Government.

"The Prince listened with deep interest to the informal address of the President, and replied with brevity and much feeling. He dined at the White House that evening. As the Prince travels incognito, the dinner was quite en famille. There were twenty-seven persons present. The party was composed of the President and the Presidential family, Mrs. Lincoln, Mrs. Grimsley, Mr. Edwards, Mr. R. T. Lincoln, Mr. Meconkey and Messieurs Nicolay and Hay, the private secretaries of the President."

Grant Receives the King of the Sandwich Islands

Doorkeeper Pendel tells of the visit at the White House of the King of the Sandwich Islands. His Majesty was the guest of President Grant, at a State dinner. Mr. Pendel informs us that the King sat on the south side of the table in the State dining-room. The King had three valets, the chief one being his cup-bearer. Those men, all three of them, stood at the King's back. The chief valet, or cup-bearer, as the courses were served,would take the dishes and pass them to the King. All three of these men wore regalias, in the shape of ladies' "Bertha capes."

Grand Duke Alexis Visits Grant

The Grand Duke Alexis, the third son of the Czar Alexander, of Russia, visited the White House in November, 1871, and was received with great ceremony by President Grant. Again we cannot do better than quote the newspaper despatches of the time, in which it was stated that :

"Long before one o'clock, a throng of people had congre-gated upon the portico to witness the arrival. Many ladies were present, but with the exception of the representatives of the Press, no one was admitted to the ante-room through which the Grand Duke and suite would pass to the Blue Parlor, where the reception by the President took place. Soon after twelve o'clock the members of the Cabinet with their wives who had invitations to be present, began to arrive, the first being Secretary and Mrs. Delano, followed at short intervals by the Attorney-General and Mrs. Akerman, Secretary Boutwell and Secretary Robeson. At one o'clock, the excitement by the throng outside betokened the arrival of the Imperial visitor, and the doors of the mansion were thrown wide open. As they alighted from the carriages, a hearty cheer went up from those assembled on the portico, the Grand Duke acknowledging the salutation by turning, when he reached the door, and removing his cap. He entered the ante-room in company with Minister Catacazy and Admiral Poisset, followed by the other members of the suite. They were immediately ushered into the parlors, and the President, with Secretary Fish, Postmaster-General Creswell, Generals Porter, Babcock and Dent, and Marshal Sharpe, came downstairs from the Executive office, and, passing through the anterooms, proceeded to the reception parlor where the ceremonies took place.

"Minister Catacazy first presented the Grand Duke to the President, and they shook hands. The Duke said it afforded him much pleasure to meet the chief of the nation with whom his own was on intimate terms of friendship, and the President cordially welcomed him and expressed the hope that his sojourn in this country would be both pleasant and gratifying. The Duke then presented the members of his suite to the President. The President in turn presented the members of his Cabinet and his official attendants, Generals Porter, Dent and Babcock to the Duke. After the introductions here were concluded, the President escorted the Grand Duke to the Red Parlor, where Secretary Fish presented him to the ladies, viz.: Mrs. Grant and Miss Nellie Grant, Mrs. Akerman, Mrs. Delano, Mrs. Sharpe, Miss Bessie Sharpe and also to Mr. Dent, the father of Mrs. Grant.

"The other part of the company followed into the Red Parlor, where a brief but general conversation took place among all the parties, the Duke addressing himself especially to Mrs. Grant. The interview lasted only fifteen minutes. The Grand Duke walked in front, as on entering, and was cheered by the crowd outside as he reached the portico. He and Minister Catacazy and Admiral Poisset took seats in the same carriage an open one. The Duke lifted his cap as the carriage drove from the premises, and the suite in carriages followed, all returning to Minister Catacazy's residence. The parlors of the Executive Mansion where the Grand Duke was received were luxuriantly decorated with flowers culled in the conservatory attached to the premises.

"The Duke wore a uniform of blue cloth, short frock coat with gold epaulets, a light blue sash over his shoulder and a sword. He removed his chapeau immediately upon entering the door. Minister Catacazy wore his Court uniform, heavily trimmed with gold lace. The members of the Duke's suite all wore full uniforms, elaborately slashed and decorated according to their respective rank. The President and members of his Cabinet were in full dress suits. Mrs. Delano was dressed in black velvet, a black "lace shawl and pink ribbon headdress. Mrs. Akerman was dressed in black silk with a train and a bonnet with maroon trimming. Mrs. Grant was assisted by Miss Nellie, Mrs. Sharpe and Miss Bessie Sharpe, and the ladies before mentioned. Mrs. Grant and the two young ladies, her daughter and Miss Sharpe were dressed in denti-toilette, black silk with point lace collar and sleeves and bright-colored ribbons. Mrs. Sharpe wore a pale green silk with train."

Queen of Hawaii Guest of President Johnson

In 1866, Queen Emma, of Hawaii while making a trip around the world, visited Washington, and was received at the White House by President Johnson. She was the widow of King Kamehameha IV. The President received her and her suite at the White House, a peculiar feature of the entertainment being that the White House was that evening thrown open to the public that all who wished might enter and look at them.

The Queen was introduced to all the ladies of President Johnson's family, and altogether every possible courtesy was paid to the guest from the then unimportant islands of the Pacific. She wore, at the dinner, a low cut gown of black silk with a mauve ribbon at her throat, and ornaments consisting of a diamond brooch and a necklace of jet. A tiara of jet crowned her head, to which was attached a white veil of finest lace.

The Infanta Eulalie Received by President Cleveland

In May, 1893, the Infanta Eulalie, of Spain, member of the royal family, was received at the White House as the guest of President and Mrs. Cleveland. Nineteen Spanish nobles accompanied the Infanta and many of the suite were present at the State dinner given the Princess at the White House. The dinner was served in the East Room, as was the case years later when Prince Henry, of Prussia, dined with President Roosevelt in order to make room for the large number of persons present. The Infanta was accompanied by her husband, and together they represented Spain at the World's Vair at Chicago.

Doorkeeper Pendel, in his Thirty-Six Years in the White House, gives further facts in relation to the visit of this member of the royal house of Spain, in which we are told that upon arriving in this country she was chaperoned by one of our naval officers, Captain Davis. When she arrived at Washington she was met at the depot by the Secretary to the President, Mr. Henry T. Thurber, with the President's carriage, drawn by four horses, and escorted by a troop of cavalry from Fort Myer. It was Troop B, of the Fourth, the late General Lawton's troop.

The Princess was driven to the Arlington Hotel, where she remained while in the city. Soon after her arrival at the Arlington the Princess called at the Executive Mansion and paid her respects to the President and Mrs. Cleveland, who, later in the day, returned the Princess' visit.

The President gave a dinner in honor of the Princess, May 26, 1893. Upon the arrival of the guests, they were escorted to the library to lay aside their wraps, and then to the East Room to meet the President and Mrs. Cleveland. The Princess arrived a little late and Mr. Pendel, the doorkeeper, says that through the thoughtfulness of Mr. R. C. Mitchell, one of the ushers, the Princess' wrap was taken in charge at the entrance to the Red Room, which saved her the trouble of going to the library. "To the surprise of everybody the Princess walked directly into the East Room as if that were part of the programme." Some of the officials were awaiting her arrival on the second floor, whence she was to be escorted to the East Room and presented to the President. These officials were "very much surprised and chagrined" when they learned that the Princess had gone to the East Room, unaccompanied except by her husband, and presented herself to the President and Mrs. Cleveland. The President noticed the Princess coming into the East Room, and, grasping the situation at a glance, very gracefully walked toward the Princess and received her with extended hand and a very gracious smile. Dinner was then served.

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