A special moment for Mabel when I was managing the newspapers in Birmingham occurred during my year as President of The Newspaper Society when she was by my side when I was host to 650 newspaper directors and their guests at a banquet in the Dorchester Hotel in Park Lane, London. It would be the culmination of my year in office and as it was the Queen Silver Jubilee Year I was particularly honoured to have His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales as our Guest of Honour.
Our Guests were seated and we were being ushered into to join them, the orchestra from the Welsh Guards greeting The Prince with the anthem ‘God Bless The Prince of Wales’. The Prince had just reached his thirtieth birthday and there was at that time no hint at about a forthcoming marriage. Before dinner I presented the wife of the previous president who had only recently died. Buckingham Palace advised that I should try and present to groups of four to faciltate conversation but I presented her on her own. I explained how courageous my predecessor had been in his last months in office and how pleased I was that his widow had honoured us by her presence. I was not privy to what he said to her as my attention was taken up by being informed that the VIP Guests were now being shown to their tables and I should be ready when called to escort The Prince into dinner. Mabel and I were privileged to enjoy the company of a most agreeable and sensitive young man. When at just after midnight when Mabel and I were escorting The Prince across the ballroom floor he veered towards a table where he had seen the widow of my precedessor and went to say goodnight to her and heard him say: ‘I am very glad to see you smiling. I am sure it is the way to face up to these kind of things.’ Out of a company of 650 and some four hours after he had first met her, he could remember her and say such kind and understanding words greatly impressed Mabel and myself.
Making The Prince laugh when mentioning his friends ‘Major Bloodstock’, ‘Bluebottle’ were unable to attend as they were locked up in the BBC Sound Library but ‘Neddie Seagoon’ (Sir Harry Secombe) had escaped capture and will be here not just for the beer but to sing for you … not for his customary fee of four million yen nor for two million, not even for two goonies but for the sheer pleasure of entertaining us.
Mabel got on splendidly with The Prince, and told him she was the same age as The Queen, and that as a small girl she had admired and desired the same kind of dress worn by the young Princess Elizabeth which had layers of frills. She told him that dress was then on display beside Queen Mary’s doll’s house in Windsor Castle.