No. 321 NAI DFA Secretary's Files S41

Letter from John W. Dulanty to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

London, 24 February 1936

Dear Joe,

I have just had a fairly lengthy battle with Wigram, Harding, and Lascelles. Harding was very stiff-necked indeed and thought it would be a good thing to have a Submission because then it would enable the Buckingham Palace people to make clear to the world what exactly had happened. I said 'What is your view of what exactly has happened?' He said his view was that we were preventing the King from behaving as any gentleman ought to behave. I restrained myself from making the observations which occurred to me on this.

Lascelles with a less dictatorial manner came along with the Canadian model. I explained that Canadian conditions were not ours and that the sooner they recognised that normal Dominion procedure did not fit us the better for all concerned.

Harding thought that we were just rubbing their noses in the dust as we did when we opened the Letters of Credence. (Incidentally on this latter point he produced a file in which Wigram had noted, bearing some date in 1930, Paddy McGilligan's interview with the King. In this interview the late King expressed a strong view about the opening of his letters by the President, and Paddy McGilligan's rejoinder according to this record was that he quite agreed that letters addressed to the King, especially when the Irish Free State Government had a copy of the letter, should go on to the King unopened.) He referred again to his discrimination between a telegram and a letter. I instanced the case of the Royal Dublin Society sending a telegram and receiving a suitably worded letter from you. Then, I continued, Buckingham Palace gets a letter from some hitherto unknown Bowling Association or some obscure Tennis Club. According to Harding's contention the latter required a more personal acknowledgment than the former. Surely absurdity could not go further.

Wigram, who through all this rather contentious talk kept a very steady keel, said that he thought I had knocked the discrimination point out of the ring. Would we object to their agreeing to our treating the letters as we had treated the telegrams and for Buckingham Palace to make some announcement which would show that they had intended to send acknowledgments but that our Government demurred. I said I saw no necessity for this. I made, for the third or fourth time, the point about the dignity and despatch with which we had treated the King's death: how they in the Palace ought to be glad we had taken such action, and how if the matter were not sensibly handled the whole business would come toppling down and embarrass nobody so much as the King. Wigram offered to take out of his letters the sentence about assurances of loyalty. Could we let the letters issue then. I gave an urbane refusal! Look at all the work and trouble they had had and was it all to go into the waste paper basket etc. etc.1

Wigram then talked to me for a good bit alone and eventually said that if he could take to the King a letter signed by the President on the lines indicated in my secret memo of today he would agree to our dealing with the letters on the same basis as the telegrams.

I telephoned just now and spoke to Seán2 as you were out and told Seán that I had accepted Wigram's condition because of the urgency of the matter: he therefore understands that our acknowledgments are issuing forthwith and not waiting for the P's letter.3

Yours sincerely,
[signed] J.W. Dulanty

1 The sentences in italics are handwritten.

2 Seán Murphy, Assistant Secretary, Department of External Affairs

3 The sentence in italics is handwritten.

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