First published in 1967, the diaries of MP Sir Henry ‘Chips’ Channon caused a sensation with their wildly indiscreet and highly salacious observations of the great and the good of English society.
Amongst his political and social intrigues, American-born Chips found time to pursue close relationships with both men and women, as his marriage to Lady Honor Guinness deteriorated. He often shared a bed with his brother-in-law Alan Lennox-Boyd, an MP married to Honor’s sister, Lady Patsy. Even after meeting army officer Peter Coats, who became the love of his life, Chips continued to lust after both men and women.
The diaries were censored before publication, removing some of Chips’ offensive opinions: before the war he was casually anti-Semitic and pro-fascist, although his stance gradually changed.
First published in 1967, the diaries of MP Sir Henry ‘Chips’ Channon caused a sensation with their wildly indiscreet and highly salacious observations of the great and the good of English societyInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Now published in their full, uncensored state, the second volume opens the day after Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s return from meeting with Hitler at Munich, believing he has secured ‘Peace in our time’.
Chips — Conservative MP for Southend, in Essex, and an arch-enemy of the anti-appeasement faction led by Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden — is delighted and relieved, calling his beloved Chamberlain ‘the man of the age’.
Thursday, Oct 6, 1938
House of Commons — Debate on the Munich Agreement: appeasement vs war
We met at 11 and for some anxious hours we listened to the debate. Would the PM do well?
At 3.13 he rose. He was quietly magnificent. Winston was howled down. The Churchillian Group, conspicuous for their disloyalty, sat glum, sullen and wrong. Old Winston looked like an angry Buddha. The figures were: 366 for us, 144 for war. Cheers greeted the result, we shouted, we waved our handkerchiefs, there were deafening roars of ‘Hear! Hear!’ There was pandemonium and the PM quietly, with his usual gentle dignity, walked out.
I motored back to the beauty and peace of Kelvedon, Essex.
Chips celebrated the 'Peace in our Time' agreement between Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler
Wednesday, Oct 12Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Kelvedon [Chips’ country home]
Confidential talk with the Duchess of Kent: she is very pro-Chamberlain, rabid against Eden. I begged her to influence the King and Queen against Eden; she replied that she had done so; the King was sound; the Queen less so, as she quite liked Anthony …
Tuesday, Nov 8
The fourth session of this most fateful parliament opened today. I wonder what it will unfold? A war? An election? In the past three years we have had everything else, scandals, political strife, resignations, abdication and coronation . . .
The King, after the first appalling pause, when one wonders whether he will ever get the words out, read the speech in a clear voice with barely any trace of effort.
The words are especially selected for him, as some consonants he cannot cope with. It was all quickly over and the Sovereigns departed in a blaze of red and jewels …
Tuesday, Nov 15
The pogroms in Germany [days earlier, on Kristallnacht, Nazi thugs wrecked synagogues and shops, businesses and houses owned by Jews] and the persecutions there have roused much indignation everywhere. Hitler never helps us and always makes Chamberlain’s task more difficult.
One cannot say so, but the sympathies of many people are not altogether with the unfortunate Jews. Indeed, many important members of their own race do not attempt to deny their disappointment that there was not a world war in September.
Wednesday, Nov 16
Honor and I dined in her room. We dressed afterwards and went on to Buckingham Palace. Honor looked magnificent, ablaze with many sapphires and diamonds … With no fuss, the King and Queen appeared. She looked well in a crinoline and he was grinning and looked very young …
George Gage [Chips’s friend] entered, piloting the King of Romania who is gross, flashy, gay and rather fun.
Saturday, Nov 19
Lord Beauchamp [the inspiration for Sebastian Flyte in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited] died in New York, aged only 66. What a turbulent life. Rank, riches, arrogance, intelligence, achievement, high office, seven children, the god’s gifts at his feet, and he gaspille-ed [squandered] them all for the most sterile of vices — footmen!! There has never been such a scandal in England. King George V remarked ‘I thought those sort of people shot themselves.’
Monday, Nov 21
The newspapers splash the arrival of the Regent, my dearly beloved Paul [of Yugoslavia] who comes this evening!
… Really I can no longer cope with the present [German] regime, which seems to have lost all sense and reason. Are they mad? The Jewish persecutions carried to such a fiendish degree are short-sighted, cruel and unnecessary … [Hitler] is becoming increasingly morose, and anti-English generally. He quite likes Chamberlain but thinks we are an effete, finished race. He is right, of course.
Wednesday, Nov 23
I only feel well and fit with an empty stomach: I was magnificent this morning, and gaily drove to the Foreign Office … I lunched with Honor and ever since I am congestionne [congested], ill, absurdly stale. Is it exercise I need, or a jolly thorough fornication, or what?
Sunday, Nov 27
After a night of wet dreams (really at my age it is surprising and perhaps reassuring) I woke weak: Paul climbed into my bed; he is always asking questions about spanking — does he want one?
Wednesday, Nov 30
Shopped with the Regent . . . He loves me, deeply, I think. Not as much as I love him.
Thursday, Jan 5, 1939
I hope Hitler won’t take too much this year: 1938 gave him both Austria and Czechoslovakia … perhaps we shall have peace throughout 1939.
Saturday, Jan 28
Harold [Balfour] and Rob Bernays arrived to stay, ministers both, but not friends. They are getting on better. Bernays is very vicious sexually I have discovered. His secret is well-kept. [Bernays was a flagellomaniac.]
A tense House of Commons vote followed Chamberlain's return from Munich
Sunday, Jan 29
Very late with Rob Bernays discussing his vices and unsatisfied lusts.
Friday, February 3
I arrived with the Duke of Kent for dinner and found a most ill-assorted party of 14 people, social waifs and strays. Edwina Mountbatten eclipsed the other professional beauties as she always does. Dickie Mountbatten has lost his looks, charm and glamour, but is still pleasant.
There have been serious explosions, bombs found in the Underground; a reign of terror has gone on for weeks now. It is alleged to be the work of Irish extremists.
Sunday, March 5
I am so tired sometimes. Yet I must be attractive still as never before have I had so much sexual success as in the past few weeks. I haven’t the time to follow it up.
Monday, March 13
Very big dinner party. The Duchess of Kent did not go to ‘the ladies’ — how does she manage? All royalties have amazing bladders.
Tuesday, March 14
There were rumblings at the Foreign Office of renewed trouble in Czechoslovakia. We did not at first take them v seriously; but learned that the Czech government had resigned and Hitler had summoned the President.