When the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were asked if they had ever seen Person to Person (CBS), the Duchess replied that they had once watched a TV interview with the Minsky burlesque people: "If we could only come across the screen as nicely as the Minskys."
Last week Interviewer Edward R. Murrow invited some 20 million Americans into the Manhattan home (the Waldorf Towers) of the Duke and Duchess, and long before his carefully contrived drawing-room drama had run its course, it was clear that the only thing that the Windsors had in common with the Minsky people was overexposure. Sample dialogue:
Murrow: Do you think you and the Duchess could ever be persuaded to settle down in New York?
Duke: The Duchess prefers city life and all that it has to offer women ... I think better in the country air.
Duchess (self-consciously): Well, he has "aired" my problems, I must say, in the fields.
Then the couple displayed pictures of their pet pugs and extolled the good-luck value of an old Russian icon. Said the Duchess: "I'm terribly superstitious, having been brought up in the Southhats on beds, things hung on doorknobs, number 13 and breaking mirrors."
Murrow: What is most important to both of you for the future?
Duke: I think if one leads a decent life and acts well, the future takes care of itself. There is so much to do in life and so little time to do it in.
For three years, Murrow has been trying to lure the Windsors onto his show. This fall the Duchess thought it would be a dignified way of publicizing her new autobiography, The Heart Has Its Reasons (TIME, Oct. 1), and both she and Murrow worked in juicy plugs. But the merciless glare of the TV cameras came a little too close for comfort. The Duchess, like several good-looking girls on TV these days, made the mistake of rushing into the new bouffante hairdo, which the camera reproduces as a bunchy, badly made wig. Otherwise, she looked ageless and chic, but rarely at the camera. She fidgeted with flowers, prinked her dress more than once, and lurched across the screen to preen the Duke's hair.
The Duke had obviously decided to make the best of an embarrassing peephole routine and spoke engagingly, if obliquely, of the decision that rocked an empire: "We both feel that there is no more wasteful or foolish or frustrating exercise than trying to penetrate the fiction of what might have been. But I do know what has been in the 20 years since we were married. They have been rewarding years, years of great happiness, years of no regrets, and years when we have preferred to look to the future . . ."
Added the Duchess in a brittle BBC accent: "David, don't you remember we always said we would never talk about what might have been. In fact, I think we arranged that pact on our honeymoon."
Duke: It is a vow we have never broken.
Then the eminent couple talked about the Duke's passion for gadgets, and the Duchess' passion for the Duke ("I want to make my husband happy. That's my greatest desire"). They also talked about globetrotting (the Duke: "I have been everywhere . . . except in jail").