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In Wednesday’s column, you read here how the Prince of Wales’ guests at his royal dinner at Windsor Castle swept through gorgeous, immense, towering-ceilinged, gilt-paneled, pricelessly furnished drawing rooms and dining rooms on their way to the Grand Reception Room where Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles were waiting to greet them with smiling faces, easy charm, lots of champagne and no pomp. When I say Grand Reception Room, I mean grand beyond measure — great, glittering chandeliers; dripping crystal; gold leaf gleaming from lofty ceilings and walls, and marble, marble everywhere. George IV once intended this room to be a ballroom — this is, after all, a castle. Now, Queen Elizabeth uses it to greet her guests before state banquets. At the entrance stands a huge malachite and gold urn given to Queen Victoria by Czar Nicholas. It is one of the largest outside Russia, as it should be when you consider the kind of legend Victoria was.
What next, after all this, you think. What next? What next is an even more magnificent room, Saint George’s Hall, in gothic marble and one of the most historic rooms in the castle, with vaulted ceilings reaching to the sky and where, for six centuries, the coats of arms of the Knights of the Garter have decorated the walls. This is where the guests were seated for dinner at an enormously long table where, stretching down the center from one end to the other, an exquisite garden of freshly growing tiny wildflowers blossomed and 20-foot white birch trees towered overhead. At each setting, a menu, handpainted with flowers and vines, announced what would be served — asparagus with smoked salmon, roast fillet of beef and Pear William ice cream with lavender shortbread and a pear crisp accompanied by fine wines, including Hygrove Rose, named after Prince Charles’ country house. Steven Rockefeller, not really ready for all that vintage grape, asked for a beer to go with his beef — and he got it! There will always be an England, but there will also always be an America, and an American.