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THE DC JUBILEE: Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee festivities at the British Embassy in Washington gave veteran party goers a jolt of great news. The British Embassy has suddenly become one of Washington’s best invitations. And this time around, it’s not just for the top guests or the inside scoop on affairs of state. Unbelievably to some, it’s for the food. Jeroboams of Champagne, pitchers of Pimm’s Cups, oysters on the half shell, poached quail’s eggs on toast, miniature Yorkshire puddings served with slivers of perfect pink roast beef and little cottage pies with individual forks — an endless supply of delicious, tasty treats that never ran low.
“The food at the British embassy has never been so plentiful nor so tasty,’’ observed one embassy regular who requested anonymity to protect his place on future guest lists. The embassy’s new secret weapon, confided one member of the embassy staff, “His name is Craig Harnden. His last job was as Richard Branson’s [of Virgin Airways] personal chef.”
Between the fabulous weather — crisp and sunny without a hint of humidity — the colorful guests and the beautiful garden, the party infused the gang with a surfeit of gusto. Rima Al Sabah, wife of the ambassador of Kuwait, waved her hand in delight, accidentally knocking Terry McAuliffe’s glass of red wine onto his azure blue tie. “It’s a Burberry,’’ he said, tucking the silk back behind his jacket lapel. “That’s good luck,” said Samia Farouki. “Now you’re sure to win election as governor of Virginia.’’ McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee who lost that election in 2009, wants to try again in 2013, when the seat opens up again. He plans to make his case at the Democratic National Convention in September. “Every chairman of the Democratic National Committee is a delegate for life,’’ he said smiling. “We passed that rule in my term.”
While some 600 guests including the Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren and his wife Sally, media heavies Maureen Dowd (in sunglasses), Andrea Mitchell and Katty Kade, White House chief of protocol Capricia Marshall, and Clinton pals Philip and Melanne Verveer, greeted Sir Peter Westmacott and his wife Susie in a two hour receiving line, everyone agreed on one thing. A jubilee garden party in Washington D.C. beat celebrating London, at least when it came to the weather.
As for not having the Queen there in person, Westmacott conceded, “The Queen has been here many times, and not just to visit the horses in Kentucky as we were just discussing a few minutes ago.’’