Hot Dog Diplomacy

30 Apr

“The Picnic That Won the War”

On Sunday, June 11, 1939, FDR & Eleanor hosted a picnic for the King and Queen of England at his summer “cottage” in Hyde Park. This was the legendary “Hot Dog Summit”, which is often credited with having very significantly increased America’s early support of England in World War II. As described by David Niven in the YouTube audio recording linked below, Errol was part of a “British Colony” radio program performed live in conjunction with the picnic.

“When Franklin Roosevelt invited Great Britain’s King George VI for a visit to the United States, the significance of the invitation did not go unnoticed. No reigning British Monarch had ever set foot on American soil, not even in colonial times. Ever since the Revolutionary War the United States and Great Britain oftentimes experienced tense relations, but Roosevelt’s invitation to the King carried great significance in the history of Anglo-American relations because it signified the dawn of a new era in American and British cooperation.”

“After two days in Washington, the tone of the royal couple’s visit transformed from formal to informal as they accompanied the Roosevelts to their home in Hyde Park, New York. The King and Queen’s stay in Hyde Park illustrated to the American people that although they were Royalty, they also enjoyed the simpler things in life. In contrast to the formal State Dinner at the White House, dinner at the Roosevelt’s Home “Springwood” was described to the press as a casual dinner between the two families; their evening entertainment was simple conversation, unfettered by formalities.”

“Even more relaxing and informal was the following day’s event – a picnic. FDR brought the couple to his new hilltop retreat, Top Cottage, on the eastern portion of his estate for an old-fashioned, American-style picnic. Much to the horror of FDR’s mother Sara Roosevelt, the King and Queen of England were served hot dogs on the front porch of the cottage. Although the press made a great deal about the hot dogs. (The picnic made the front page of the New York Times)”

royal_picnicmenu (1)


David Niven describes the Hollywood British Colony radio show at 1:36:33 in this audio recording:

— Gentleman Tim


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  1. Karl

    April 30, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    As always, GT, a consummate conglomeration of interesting ingredients served up for all aboard who are a “party” to this post… and for this writer, not too far from this Royal Weiner Wing Ding!

    I’ll save the supplied menu to be enjoyed later this summer.

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    • Gentleman Tim

      May 1, 2018 at 9:06 am

      Thanks, Karl. You may want to be part of the upcoming “recreation” of Franklin and Eleanor’s Royal “Hot Dog Summit”. It’s on Saturday afternoon, June 9th.…

      I don’t know if Errol ever hid out in Hyde Park, but, as you know better than I, he did get to hang out with the Roosevelts several months earlier that year (in late January), at the White House, Fort Myers in Virginia, and the National Theater.

      Errol Flynn at the White House

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