- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Duke of Kent, Queen Elizabeth II’s first cousin and the royal patron of the American Air Museum in Britain, cut a dashing figure at a champagne-and-caviar reception for museum donors hosted by British Ambassador Sir David Manningand his wife, Catherine, at their residence Tuesday night. The event was the beginning of a two-day celebration of the 60th anniversary of V-E Day, which marked the end of the European part of World War II on May 9, 1945.

The museum, in Duxford, was conceived as a memorial to the 30,000 Americans who died flying missions from British bases; attractions there include such famed American combat aircraft as the Flying Fortress and the Liberator.

Anglo-American sentiments abounded in the presence of the trim and courtly duke, 69, whose schedule during a rare U.S. visit included tours of the battlefield at Gettysburg and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the District.

A gala dinner on the museum’s behalf that took place at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Wednesday included as guests four former American women pilots who flew transport planes across the Atlantic during the conflict. Bill McSweenyand his wife, Dorothy, were gala co-chairs in honor of Mrs. McSweeny’s test-pilot father, who died in 1942. “She was a war orphan,” Mr. McSweeny noted. “So my idea is to pay tribute to families who also displayed great courage throughout those years.”

— Ann Geracimos

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