Ashes and Diamonds

'Blithe Spirit—The Windsor Set' at the Met

It is generally believed that it was Winston Churchill who intervened with the Gaullists, convincing them to let his old friend Chanel escape to Switzerland rather than be paraded through the streets of Paris with her head shaved like other Nazi collaborators. But it is also Churchill who has the last word at the Met exhibit. Over a film of the Germans marching into Paris, he speaks movingly of the upcoming Battle of Britain: "Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will say, 'This was their finest hour.' " He was not referring to bracing himself with a little elastic girdle.

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