Raising a Flag to the SS United States' Royal Passengers
Over her prolific 17-year service career, the SS United States played host to a number of famous travelers. Regular transatlantic passengers included the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, who occupied the same suite of luxury cabins on each crossing.
When the royal couple were aboard, three triangular flags were raised and remained flying for the entirety of the Duke and Duchess' passage. Supporter Elizabeth Clark-Miller reached out to the Conservancy this month to share photographs of the original flags, which she received from SS United States Chief Purser Henry Moreno.
See the flags below:
Royal signal flags, and flag details. Photographs courtesy of Elizabeth Clark-Miller.
"When I was seven years old, back in 1964, Chief Purser Henry Moreno and his wife, Stella, purchased our home on Cape Cod when he retired from the service of the great ship. I remember as a child hearing the tales of all the wonderful and amazing people that he met during his career aboard the vessel...'Uncle' Henry considered the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to be close friends."
From left to right: Bell Captain Bill Krudener; Chief Purser Henry Moreno; Italian actor Rossano Brazzi. Photograph courtesy of Bill Krudener.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were frequent travelers, who paid only the regular first-class fare for their suite of rooms in exchange for attending onboard functions during their voyages, and agreeing to pose for publicity photographs with the ship's photographer. The pair also did not travel light, once boarding the SS United States with over 100 pieces of luggage.
Commodore Leroy Alexanderson, the SS United States' final captain, recalled the Duke and Duchess fondly: "They were always very easy to travel with by my standards. They never made any special demands and it was a feather in our cap to have them."
A custom luggage set owned by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor is currently on display as part of an exciting new exhibition at London's Victoria and Albert Museum. "Ocean Liners: Speed and Style" explores the design and cultural impact of the ocean liner around the world, and the exhibition includes artifacts from the SS United States, Titanic, Normandie, Queen Mary and other great liners. Find out more HERE.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor aboard the SS United States.
Photograph courtesy of John Gustave Kunze.
Interested in exploring the SS United States' royal connections? A photograph taken aboard the vessel recently helped to fact-check royal period drama and Netflix hit "The Crown." The show's second season explores the relationship between Queen Elizabeth II and American evangelist Billy Graham, who traveled aboard America's Flagship on his crusades to Europe. Discover the surprising role played by the Big U HERE.
We were so excited to have Elizabeth share these fantastic photographs of the SS United States' royal signal flags! Do you own artwork, objects or photographs from America's Flagship? Click HERE to find out how you can make a donation, or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not ready to part with your SS United States memorabilia? The Conservancy is also undertaking a project to catalogue the location and ownership of surviving original fixtures, furniture, artwork and ephemera currently held in private collections. Fill out our collection survey HERE.