To those fortunate enough to remember vividly the brief Kennedy years in Washington, so intensely enjoyable because so full of hope and so illuminated by intelligence, the loss of David Harlech must come as a most severe blow.
His appointment as British ambassador was one of the more amiable curiosities in the curious annals of patronage. In brief, David Ormsby Gore, as he then was, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been close friends ever since Joseph P. Kennedy was American ambassador in London. The new president therefore wanted his friend here, to do business with whenever common concerns might develop between London and Washington. Rather indulgently, Prime Minister MacMillan (now Lord Stockton) granted the forthright -- and quite unprecedented -- request of the young president -- so we in Washington got David and Cissie Harlech, and the British got one of the very best and most astute ambassadors who has ever served them in this country.
David Harlech, one is tempted to add, enjoyed just about all the advantages a man can have. He was brave, generous-hearted and intelligent. For the world at large, he was a good friend and companion. Among friends, he was a truly good friend in the basic sense that he could always be depended upon. As an Englishman, he was a good citizen of an enlightened, conservative turn of mind.
In other days, he might have made a considerable political career in England, for he had all sorts of connections of the kind that used to mark out serious, able young men for promotion in the Conservative Party. But all that was over and done in his opinion, and when his father died, he was entirely content to go to the House of Lords as Lord Harlech. In the Lords, his voice was not raised often but gained wide respect, especially when he was heard on the subject which most interested him, Anglo-American relations. In this and many other ways, David Harlech's contribution to Anglo-American relations in these last years has been literally inestimable, and both countries are in his debt for it.
Besides his public life, he had a busy and highly successful business life as founder and head of Harlech Television, a regional network which serves Wales, where his family originated. Soon after their return to England, his first wife, Cissie, so beloved in Washington in the Kennedy years, was killed in a motor accident almost eerily similar to the accident in which David Harlech met his end the other day. Somewhat later, he married Pamela Colin, with whom he was ideally happy. Altogether, it is bitter that this man should have been cut off by a car crash when he had so much to give, and was still giving so much to so many friends and people who loved him and to this country and to his own country as well.