March 2, 2020

By BARRY SINGER

Following their conference with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin at Yalta 75 years ago, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt briefly rendezvoused on the USS Quincy at Alexandria, Egypt. Two days later, Churchill was driven across the desert to the Hotel du Lac at the Fayyum oasis in order to meet with the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud.

Before their luncheon, Churchill was informed that ibn Saud could not tolerate smoking or the drinking of alcohol in his presence. Churchill replied that he was the host and that his religion “prescribed as an absolute sacred rite smoking cigars and drinking alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and the intervals between them.”

Barry Singer is the author of Churchill Style (Abrams Image, 2012) and the proprietor of Chartwell Booksellers in New York City.

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