A shocked voice at the British War Office one day last week gasped: "Are you by any chance referring on a public telephone to the fact that a certain well-known personage has left these shores for a certain destination?"

A disgusted news correspondent at the other end of the line replied: "I'm talking about the King's visit to France . . . officially known to the press for two hours. Don't you know?"

The War Office's wish to keep the visit secret had been firmly overridden by George VI, who said: "My people have...

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