Understandably, the service was fit for a king when Saudi Arabian King Khalid bin Abdul Aziz underwent surgery recently at the Cleveland Clinic here.
Whether he was carving a 35-pound lamb in his opulent 18-room compound or just snacking on Turkish bon bons, the 65-year-old monarch and spiritual leader of Moslems recuperated in the manner to which he was accustomed.
Clinic officials will not release the tab billed to the Saudis for the 30-day stay that ended Oct. 27, during which the king underwent an apparently successful double bypass heart operation. But the amenities afforded King Khalid are not what one finds in normal Blue Cross coverage.
The king's suite was completely redecorated to English decor and furnished with thick carpeting and paintings, including some borrowed from the Cleveland Museum of Art, according to a 37-page report released yesterday by the Cleveland Clinic.
The compound was on the eighth floor of the hospital, which for all practical reasons, was the seat of government in absentia. There were quarters for cabinet ministers and generals, as well as the king's private cook.
The baked lambs were served three times, on special occasions including the celebration of the birth of his grandson in a nearby hospital. But the king also liked steak, old-fashioned American pancakes, and vanilla ice cream, hospital officials reported.
Meals were served to the Saudis on Royal Doulton china (Carlisle pattern). They ate Cornish hen, filet mignon, weli-done prime-rib and chicken breasts stuffed with hazelnuts. Hospital personnel said they also learned how to prepare rice in 12 different ways.
The Arabs drank coffee made from pulverized green coffee beans, goat's milk furnished by Amish dairymen from nearby Burton, Ohio, and mineral water flown in from Saudi Arabia.
The compound was protected by a small army of Secret Service agents, Cleveland Police intelligence officers, the Army's bomb squad, and the Saudi Royal Guard. Guards armed with automatic weapons patrolled the halls and the roof of the clinic, which is located in a poor section of the city.
The community's reaction to the Arab king ranged from an expression of good health from a conservative rabbi to a woman masseuse who offered "personal gratuitous services." A surburban Clevelander called and said, "I know the king is a gambling man. Do you think that I might be able to arrange a card party with him and some of his friends in his suite?"
During the king's stay, the report circulated in Cleveland that the king had banned Jewish and black hospital personnel from his quarters.
To dispel the belief of discrimination, Khalid met with Sen. Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio), a Jew, and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young. He told them the rumors "hurt him deeply."
Despite the opulence, Dr. William S. Kaiser, chairman of the clinic's board of governors, issued a remark that "the king was treated like every other patient, with residents, nurses and other personnel regularly attending to him."