The Real Loelia Ponsonby

From the Tripped over Something Interesting department, filed under You Learn Something New Every Day:

The real Loelia Ponsonby

Loelia Ponsonby

A website most of us, I suspect, would have little reason to visit is David Patrick Columbia’s New York Social Diary. It’s exactly what it sounds like — Mr. Columbia reporting on what happened at parties he’s been to, and what people in his orbit (and, presumably, the reader’s,) are doing. I’m sure it’s interesting stuff for its intended target.

His latest column will be of interest to James Bond fans. Through a chain of associations, Mr. Columbia comes to reflect on a person considered to be one of the Bright Young Things in 1920s Edwardian society: Loelia, Lady Lindsay, a.k.a. Loelia Ponsonby, wife of the 2nd Duke of Westminster, a.k.a. James Bond’s secretary in the Ian Fleming novels Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever — yes, that Loelia Ponsonby!

In real life, she definitely did not need to work as a secretary. As Columbia writes,

Loelia Mary Ponsonby was born on Feb 6 1902, the only daughter of the courtier Sir Frederick Ponsonby, later 1st Lord Sysonby. ‘Fritz’ Ponsonby was assistant private secretary to Queen Victoria, King Edward VII and King George V, and wrote Recollections of Three Reigns.
Young Loelia once occupied the lap of Edward VII and amused His Majesty by seizing his beard and demanding: “But King, where’s your crown?”

Noel Coward and Ian Fleming were mutual friends of hers; Coward wrote the forward to her memoirs, while Fleming immortalized her in popular fiction as 007’s secretary. (Mr. Columbia mistakenly writes of her as the inspiration for M’s secretary, the famous “Miss Moneypenny.”) Sharp-eyed readers might also infer parallels between the story of her ruined marriage, and Fleming’s tale of a similarly toxic relationship, “Quantum of Solace.”

The whole story is included in his report Cooler but far from chilly for mid-November, and will add just a little bit more to your store of James Bond knowledge.


HMSS Weblog on Twitter

We’ve only mentioned this in passing in responding to comments on some posts: the HMSS Weblog is also available on Twitter at It’s a modest presence, but we’re linking posts here.