Sunday, April 11, 2021

Iowa's (and Wyoming's) brushes with royalty ...

Although hardly transfixed by the pending obsequies for Prince Philip, I was intrigued enough this morning to read a Des Moines Register story, published Friday under the headline, "Prince Philip made a stop in Iowa 'Flyover Country' during trip to Washington in 1969."

The story involves a refueling stop made during November of 1969 at Mason City Municipal Airport by a twin-turbobprop plane, with the prince at the controls, headed from a hunting trip at Canyon Ranch near Sheridan, Wyoming, to Washington, D.C., where he planned to dine with President Nixon. 

I wasn't there at the time, of course, enrolled instead I think at U.S. Army Intelligence School, Fort Holabird, Maryland. In fact, it had never occurred to me that I'd ever live in the wilds of North Iowa.

Some years later, in 1984, the queen and her consort paid a joint visit to Canyon Ranch as guests of her friends, Jean (Wallop) and Henry Herbert, 7th Earl (and Countess) of Carnarvon --- then residents of Highclere Castle, most widely known today as the setting for Downton Abbey. 

Jean Wallop was a granddaughter of Oliver Henry Wallop, a younger son dispatched in the late 19th century to the former colonies who unexpectedly became the 8th Earl of Portsmouth and thereupon returned to England, leaving his second son, Oliver Malcolm Wallop, behind to manage the Wyoming properties. Jean and her brother, Malcolm --- prominent in Wyoming both politically and financially --- were the latter's children.

In any case, at the time of the royal visit to Sheridan, my first-cousin, Jessie, and her husband, Bob Duncan, lived (and still do) on the north side of Airport Road in Sheridan with a view of Big Horn Mountains across the extensive grounds of the Sheridan County Airport, site of airborne royal comings and goings. My parents and I visited soon after the royals departed, I believe, and I remember the discussion about their front-row seat.

None of this is of any consequence at all, but sorting out the distinguished lineages of various aristocratic families did help me to awaken my brain this morning and I'm grateful for that.

1 comment:

Hawkeye Hammer said...

I've got an interesting (I think) experience related the 1984 visit. At that time I was working for an small commuter airline called Frontier Commuter. We were separate from the "orignal" Frontier at that time but we fed their flights in Denver. We flew 50 passenger Convair 580's around the upper Great Plains and I was a flight attendant.

One of our routes was Denver - Sheridan - Gillette and back to Denver. One late afternoon at the time the Queeen and consort were in Sheridan a gentleman got on my flight as I was on this route that day. He sat in the front row and had a brief case size package in the seat next to him, seatbelted in. Of course I told him he had to stow the package as we took off and he said No, I have paid for a seat for this package to set here. As we discussed he explained it was the Queens mail and he was delivering it to her. So all week other flight attendants reported they had a man (different) with a package in the seat next to him as the Queen's mail was flown to Sheridan from London by one of these couriers every day during her stay.

In the end I felt really sorry for the guy. It's beautiful country up there and our flights would land and leave again in about 20 minutes. His original plan was to spend the night and fly back the next day, but apparently someone was waiting to receive the mail so he had to get right back on the flight, fly to Denver and presumably back to London with all due haste. No vacation in the Big Horn Mountains for him.