293. Diary Entry by the Ambassador to the United Kingdom (Bruce)1
The Prime Minister and his train arrived from London last night. He brought with him Mrs. Wilson, Burke Trend, Denis Greenhill, Michael Halls, Michael Palliser, Gerald Kaufman (Public Relations Adviser), T.D. Lloyd-Hughes (Press Secretary), and Donald Murray (Head of South East Asia Department, Foreign Office).
John Leddy, Bob Bowie, Harry Shullaw, and I went over to meet this group, to which was attached Pat Dean and Ed Tompkins from the British Embassy, at 11:30 this morning. The road from the White House Northwest Gate to the Diplomatic entrance was lined with Army, Navy, and Air Force men, standing at attention with fixed bayonets. I trailed along behind the President as he met his guests in front of a battery of cameramen.
The President and Prime Minister disappeared into the Oval Office, unattended, from which they emerged two and a half hours later (2 o’clock). The rest of us cooled our heels in the Cabinet Room, but this was pleasant enough since every one there had known the others for a long time. We were joined by Walt Rostow, who was hawkishly gratified by how things are going in Vietnam.
Our unpredictable President announced we must all be hungry and should follow him upstairs in the White House to drink and eat. Poor Pat Dean was thoroughly discomfited, for he had arranged a large lunch at home for the Prime Minister. However, there was no choice; [Page 616] exactly the same thing happened when Harold Wilson was last here. Pat was initially angry, but yielded with good spirit.
The newspapers last night made merry over the selections chosen by the orchestra for this evening’s State Dinner. Amongst the titles was On the Road to Mandalay, and one or two others that seemed especially inapposite in Mr. Wilson’s case. When, however, he heard of Protocol’s embarrassment over this, he insisted the program stand.
While we were drinking before lunch, the PM remarked on how satisfactory had been his conversation with the President. To my surprise, he told us there had been a reflow of gold to London in excess of two-hundred-million dollars during the past two weeks. This does not accord at all with our Embassy figures reported by the Treasury Attache. Also, he said exports were increasing substantially, unemployment was manageable, and all in all the economy was ready to respond to the new measures.
Lunch was cheerful; the President recounted some good Texas stories. Incidentally, he spoke warmly of how helpful President Eisenhower had always been to him, and of his deep affection for the General.
When they left, I stayed behind for a few minutes with the President. He said his talk with Wilson had been satisfactory, and without rancor, although he had spoken sternly about British plans for withdrawal from the Far East and Middle East. Wilson gave him glowingly optimistic predictions of how Britain would pull itself up by its bootstraps.
[Here follow 9 paragraphs dealing with social and personal matters.]
The toasts to the Queen and the President were not out of the ordinary. Each had been carefully prepared. L.B.J. was laudatory of Britain, but did not single out Wilson for individual praise. The PM was cagey, but satisfactory on Vietnam. There were no fireworks in either production.
[Here follow 3 paragraphs of unrelated personal observations.]
- Source: Department of State, Bruce Diaries: Lot 63 D 327. Secret.↩