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Fonteyn plot to overthrow Panama government


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#1 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 28 May 2010 - 03:17 PM

There is an interesting article in the British Independent.co.uk - click on Home news.
"Fonteyn and the plot to overthrow Panama's government".
:) That woman didnt have her wits about her, or what! I find it very hard to believe - not that it happened, because it apparently did - but how can any person who has any position is society lend themselves to such things. Desperate people, for whatever reason, yes, that is different, but she was the essence of the typically ENGLISH ballerina, at least in her dancing. Not in her private life, it seems. One never ceases to be aghast over mankind!
Must be true, it comes from the National Archives.

#2 dirac

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Posted 28 May 2010 - 08:58 PM

This story has been known in its general outline for some time - Meredith Daneman writes about it in her biography and it came up in the documentary "Margot" - but this does add some new details and information about the British diplomatic reaction to her involvement (which seems to have been quite deep), they were horrified, naturally. I do not know enough about the Panamanian political background to comment on it and would be interested to hear from anyone who does know.

#3 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 06:48 AM

Must be true, it comes from the National Archives.


Oh...yes, indeed. :)
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#4 dirac

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 04:00 PM

A BBC News report, with a video clip of Fonteyn at a press conference.

Meanwhile, Fonteyn's husband had found refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Panama. Some weeks later he made his way to Rio. Dame Margot Fonteyn was thrilled. She wrote to John Profumo saying she was planning to meet him there and added :"I do hope that you and Valerie will have time to come in and see us when we are both back --and definitely not plotting!"

That was the kind of tone she'd adopted throughout. One British diplomat wrote of the "charmingly light hearted way" she viewed the situation. And though that approach shocked officials and ministers alike, there were apparently no lasting consequences for Dame Margot or her husband. That same summer, in Rio, they were once again on the guest list for a ball organised by the British embassy.


Laughing it off as a sort of "Bananas"-type imbroglio was probably a canny way to handle it. I imagine some in Panama didn't find it quite so amusing.

#5 JMcN

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 07:33 AM

Although it is some years since I read the book, the incident is covered in Margot Fonteyn's autobiography.

I'm sure the archives add more detail but I'm not quite sure why anyone (ie the British press) is dealing with this as fresh news given that she did write about it herself!

#6 leonid

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 08:32 AM

Although it is some years since I read the book, the incident is covered in Margot Fonteyn's autobiography.

I'm sure the archives add more detail but I'm not quite sure why anyone (ie the British press) is dealing with this as fresh news given that she did write about it herself!



It is huge news across newspapers and televison and its not even the 'silly season' of summer when all sorts of stupid stories get published.

You are right it is covered in her autobiography, but the event is a lifetime away from today's general public and most journalist editors who are probably not to be found among those reading about the life and times of ballet dancers in the past. It was gossip then, today they try to make it a scandal. The British Ambassador to Panama of the day was put out because Dame Margot and Her husband had failed to appear at an event at which the Duke of Edinburgh attended and to the Foreign Office in London he writes to my mind somewhat spitefully about Dame Margot's activity as if she had spoiled the numbers to be seated at dinner and caused a diplomatic gaffe.

Dame Margot does remain the most significant British historical dancer to this day among older generations and for non-ballet enthusiasts it is propably the only name they will know, alongside that of Pavlova and Nureyev which I am sure you are aware.

#7 dirac

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 08:46 PM

Although it is some years since I read the book, the incident is covered in Margot Fonteyn's autobiography.

I'm sure the archives add more detail but I'm not quite sure why anyone (ie the British press) is dealing with this as fresh news given that she did write about it herself!



It's fresh news because these are recently declassified files that add additional detail. I'm sure a great many public figures would be delighted if what they wrote in their autobiographies settled matter of fact for all time, but that's not how it works, fortunately for the most part. When a legendary Dame of the British Empire is up to her neck in fomenting revolution in a foreign country and her hubby is schmoozing with Castro for guns, yeah, I'd say it's a story. :)

#8 Mel Johnson

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 02:51 AM

Don't overlook the glitz factor in all this. In 1959, Castro had not identified himself as a Communist, and had, in fact, denounced it in that year. He was a celebrity revolutionary, as conflicted as that sounds, and was a darling of the jet set as an authentic hero.

#9 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 06:43 AM

Don't overlook the glitz factor in all this. In 1959, Castro had not identified himself as a Communist, and had, in fact, denounced it in that year. He was a celebrity revolutionary, as conflicted as that sounds, and was a darling of the jet set as an authentic hero.


Oh, yes..indeed.

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#10 canbelto

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 11:04 AM

Dame Margot does remain the most significant British historical dancer to this day among older generations and for non-ballet enthusiasts it is propably the only name they will know, alongside that of Pavlova and Nureyev which I am sure you are aware.


And ... what does this have to do with whether she dabbled in the questionable politics of her playboy husband?

#11 dirac

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 11:21 AM

Don't overlook the glitz factor in all this. In 1959, Castro had not identified himself as a Communist, and had, in fact, denounced it in that year. He was a celebrity revolutionary, as conflicted as that sounds, and was a darling of the jet set as an authentic hero.


Not sure that Castro's all having the 'glitz' of a 'celebrity revolutionary' is much in the way of a mitigating factor. :)

#12 dirac

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 11:26 AM

Dame Margot does remain the most significant British historical dancer to this day among older generations and for non-ballet enthusiasts it is propably the only name they will know, alongside that of Pavlova and Nureyev which I am sure you are aware.


And ... what does this have to do with whether she dabbled in the questionable politics of her playboy husband?


Well, we can't assume that Tito's intentions were necessarily bad. Politics was the family business. Fonteyn's stature does make a difference - the story is not only interesting in itself but because it concerns Fonteyn. I would say that it was rather more than "dabbling" - although Fonteyn made light of it and it didn't turn out very well, to put it mildly, there's no reason to think that anyone involved wasn't dead serious, so to speak.

#13 leonid

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 11:52 AM

Dame Margot does remain the most significant British historical dancer to this day among older generations and for non-ballet enthusiasts it is propably the only name they will know, alongside that of Pavlova and Nureyev which I am sure you are aware.


And ... what does this have to do with whether she dabbled in the questionable politics of her playboy husband?


It was a response to the second sentence of JMcn post(quoted here in full) in which he wrote, "Although it is some years since I read the book, the incident is covered in Margot Fonteyn's autobiography. I'm sure the archives add more detail but I'm not quite sure why anyone (ie the British press) is dealing with this as fresh news given that she did write about it herself!"

That is to say I was writing to explain why there was such an explosion in the UK press and television. As pointed out by dirac it was also as result of the end of the 50 year embargo rule on the release of cabinet papers to the public for the first time.

Dame Margot remains a noteworthy historic figure of interest, as televisions recent biopic confirms.

#14 Mel Johnson

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 03:12 PM

Don't overlook the glitz factor in all this. In 1959, Castro had not identified himself as a Communist, and had, in fact, denounced it in that year. He was a celebrity revolutionary, as conflicted as that sounds, and was a darling of the jet set as an authentic hero.


Not sure that Castro's all having the 'glitz' of a 'celebrity revolutionary' isn't much in the way of a mitigating factor. :thanks:


I'm not sure I intended it as mitigating. After all, a wife may not be compelled against her will to testify against her husband in most cases, but colluding in his treason is bad form, at least. Just ask Margaret Shippen Arnold (Mrs. Benedict).

Should I wish to enter a defense, I think I would go for diminished capacity, as throwing your armed force's brassards overboard, making them indistinguishable from pirates, and retaining evidence onboard would serve as a pretty good contribution to the corpus of a defense based on insufficient brains, but I would never do that; but I just did, didn't I. :)

#15 dirac

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 03:31 PM

Good points. :thanks: (Of course, Peggy Arnold would have said that she was the true loyalist - is betraying traitors treason? But I guess that's outside the purview of this discussion....)


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