In the mid-1990s, the United States Ambassador to France was Pamela Churchill Harriman, an appointee of Bill Clinton. On February 5, 1996, she died. The burial she received was, you will understand the expression, fit for a queen.
She was anything but a queen. Pamela Churchill Harriman was a courtesan, plain and simple.
Webster: “Courtesan: a prostitute; esp. one whose associates are wealthy, aristocratic, or of the nobility.”
A high class prostitute.
Bear with me; I’m going somewhere with this story. (If anyone ever publishes these blogs of mine, the title will probably be: “Bear with me; I’m going somewhere with this.”)
As a resident of this world since 1940 and a history student all my life, I knew who this woman was. She was born into an English family in 1920, the kind of family with an impressive title–her father was Baron Digby–but little money or power. Someone remarked, “Pamela was not born rich, but she was born to be rich.”
At the age of 20–the year I was born–she married the only son of Winston Churchill, Randolph, a weak man given to temper tantrums, self-indulgence, and strong drink. Later that year she gave birth to the prime minister’s namesake, Winston S. Churchill II. The marriage ended within a couple of years, and Pamela was off on her new career, that of courtesan to the high and the mighty.
The Churchill name opened doors for her.
She married twice more, to Broadway producer Leland Hayward and Averell Harriman, a wealthy businessman and political figure who served as ambassador to several countries.
“Reflected Glory” is the biography of Pamela Churchill Harriman. The author is Sally Bedell Smith. I stumbled across the used book recently, the selling price was next to nothing, and so I bought it.
I’m halfway through and probably won’t finish it.
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