GREAT BRITAIN: The Queen's Husband

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It was by all odds the gayest and most gala evening of the London season, and everyone was having a lovely time—everyone, that is, but a certain young lady. Beautifully gowned, as pretty of face and form as any in the room, she sat in regal isolation, helplessly frozen in the icy formality of unapproachable rank, her eagerness to dance hidden under a fagade of gracious half smiles. At last, the only person in the'room able to do so decided on drastic action. Bearing down on a stag line of diffident lordlings, he seized one by the arm and muttered: "For God's sake, go and ask the Queen to dance. The poor thing's been bored stiff all evening."

This week, as Her Most Excellent Majesty Elizabeth the Second by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, arrives in Jamestown, Va. (after four days in Canada) to begin her first visit to the U.S. since her accession to the world's loftiest throne, the same personable troubleshooter will be there to shatter the sometimes forbidding ice of majesty with the impact of his own easy personality. He is the Queen's husband. Prince Philip, and he will play a considerable part in the success (or failure) of a royal diplomatic mission whose underlying purpose is to help restore to its old warmth the U.S. public's image of Britain, recently smudged by misadventure in Suez.

Gracious by training, but never fully relaxed in public, Britain's Queen is not gifted at putting people at their ease. Her conversational ploys are stiffly predictable and her smile too controlled to be encouraging. But as the stilted gambits of formal conversation begin to freeze into an awful possibility of utter silence in her presence, the Prince strolls up, speaks, and all the tight, polite smiles, including that on the Queen's own peaches-and-cream face, widen into the kind of relaxed good humor that warms hearts.

New Bridge. Thousands of Americans who see the Queen during the coming round of balls and receptions, and millions more who get only a glimpse on the television screen, may detect Philip at this small but important task. But this is only one facet of a larger achievement. In the increasingly equalitarian Britain of the postwar years, Britain's monarchy found itself subject to a questioning, scarcely articulated, of the utility of an expensive royal household whose members saw only other aristocrats and seemed chiefly concerned with horse racing or - shooting grouse. But today, Britain's throne has never been more secure, nor its occupant more firmly rooted in her subjects' affections. The man chiefly responsible for building this new bridge of sympathy and understanding between throne and subject is the vigorous, handsome man Elizabeth married ten years ago.

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