Representatives from 54 countries gathered at Dartmouth House in London for the Centenary Conference of the International English-Speaking Union over five days the third week in May, culminating in a celebration of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday. Monday evening's reception at Dartmouth House gave all the delegates and guests a chance to meet and greet. On Tuesday guests enjoyed a tour of the Churchill War Rooms in Whitehall while delegates were in session, and in the late afternoon all enjoyed a talk on the power of Churchill's rhetoric by Lord Watson and Celia Sandys, Winston's granddaughter.
Guests on Wednesday were treated to lunch at the Tate Modern while delegates were in session. Among the highlights of that session were the election of the President of the International Council for the next year (Howard Kroch of Hamburg) and the location of next year's International Council meeting (St. Petersburg). On Wednesday afternoon we were treated to a production of As You Like It at the Globe Theatre, and in the evening the Centenary Dinner at Dartmouth House featured Benet Brandreth QC as speaker; his-powerful delivery made an excellent case for the-revival of-teaching rhetoric in schools.
Thursday we were all hosted to a reception at St. James's Palace by HRH Princess Anne, current President of the ESU of the Commonwealth. We were accompanied by the finalists to the International Public Speaking Competition, from whom the Princess Royal very much enjoyed learning how they acquired their interest in public speaking. Friday was largely taken up with the Competition itself, which was won by a young woman, small of stature but large of voice, from the Philippines.
The week was capped off by the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which ESU members and delegates viewed on a large screen at Dartmouth House while being served an excellent afternoon tea. One wedding attendee reporting later on the event noted that, according to the invitation, hats were "mandatory," and they were certainly in abundance, from imaginative fascinators to Camilla's "squashed flamingo." Men's hats were sadly lacking, although most were otherwise well turned out in morning dress. The sun shone brightly on the event as the primate of the American Episcopal Church delivered a homily in a style I'm sure is unique in the history of St. George's Chapel, as a gospel choir sang "Stand by Me." Prince Charles graciously walked the bride halfway down the aisle in the absence of her father, and seemed to enjoy the whole affair throughout. The whole show was orchestrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seemed pleased with the result. Prince Philip, although just out of hospital, walked ramrod straight without assistance, reflecting the dignity of the Monarch he accompanied. Altogether a day to remember.
- Bill Maschmeier, President
ESU Seattle Branch
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