Angier Biddle Duke

Angier Biddle Duke (November 30, 1915 – April 29, 1995) was an diplomat who served as Chief of Protocol of the United States in the 1960s. Prior to that, at the age of 36, he became the youngest American ambassador in history when he was appointed to be the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador.[1]

Angier Biddle Duke
JFKWHP-KN-C19983 (cropped).jpg
Duke in 1962
Chief of Protocol of the United States
In office
January 24, 1961 – January 20, 1965
PresidentJohn F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded byWiley T. Buchanan, Jr.
Succeeded byLloyd Nelson Hand
In office
April 1, 1968 – September 26, 1968
PresidentLyndon B. Johnson
Preceded byJames W. Symington
Succeeded byTyler Abell
United States Ambassador to Morocco
In office
December 20, 1979 – February 28, 1981
Preceded byRichard B. Parker
Succeeded byJoseph Verner Reed, Jr.
United States Ambassador to Denmark
In office
October 3, 1968 – May 1, 1969
Preceded byKatharine Elkus White
Succeeded byGuilford Dudley Jr.
United States Ambassador to Spain
In office
April 1, 1965 – March 30, 1968
Preceded byRobert F. Woodward
Succeeded byFrank E. McKinney
United States Ambassador to El Salvador
In office
June 5, 1952 – May 21, 1953
Preceded byGeorge P. Shaw
Succeeded byMichael J. McDermott
Personal details
Born(1915-11-30)November 30, 1915
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedApril 29, 1995(1995-04-29) (aged 79)
Southampton, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic Party
Priscilla St. George
(m. 1936; div. 1940)

Margaret Screven White
(m. 1940; div. 1952)

Maria-Luisa de Arana
(m. 1952; her death 1961)

Robin Chandler Lynn
(m. 1962; his death 1995)
ParentsAngier Buchanan Duke
Cordelia Drexel Biddle
EducationSt. Paul's School
Yale University
Military service
Branch/serviceUnited States Army Air Forces
Years of service1940-1945
Battles/warsWorld War II

Early lifeEdit

Duke was born in New York City.[2] His father was Angier Buchanan Duke (1884–1923) and his mother was Cordelia Drexel Biddle, later Cordelia Biddle Robertson. Angier Buchanan Duke was an heir to the American Tobacco Company fortune while Cordelia Drexel Biddle was a member of the Biddle family who were prominent in business, political and cultural affairs in Philadelphia. Angier Biddle Duke's only sibling was Anthony Drexel Duke (1918–2014).[3] After separating in 1918, Duke's parents divorced in 1921.[4][5]

His paternal grandfather was Benjamin Newton Duke (1855–1929), a major benefactor of Duke University and brother of James Buchanan Duke, himself the father of Doris Duke, Angier's cousin.[6][7] His maternal grandfather was Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle, Sr.[8] Through his mother, he was a great-great-grandson of banker Anthony Joseph Drexel.[3][9]

Duke attended St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. He dropped out of Yale University in 1936.[1]


In the late 1930s, Duke became skiing editor for a sports magazine and, by 1940, he enlisted as a private in the United States Army Air Forces. Upon his discharge in 1945, Duke was a major serving in North Africa and Europe. His uncle, Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle, Jr., was serving as ambassador to most of the governments-in-exile that were occupied by Germany during World War II.[8][10]

Diplomatic careerEdit

Meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan Hayato Ikeda. (L-R) Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Zentaro Kosaka, Prime Minister Ikeda, Counselor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Interpreter) Toshiro Shimanouchi, President John F. Kennedy, State DepartmentChief of Protocol Angier Biddle Duke (standing), and interpreter James J. Wickel. Oval Office, White House, Washington, D.C.

In 1949, Duke joined the United States Foreign Service as an assistant in Buenos Aires and subsequently Madrid. From 1952 to 1953,[11][12] he served as the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador during the Truman administration and was, aged 36, the youngest ever U.S. Ambassador up to that time.[13]

People thought Angie was just a rich playboy when President Truman appointed him Ambassador to El Salvador. He was 32 or 33 years old, the youngest ambassador in United States history, and the Duke name represented entrenched, giant capitalists.[14]

With the Democratic Party out of power in 1953–1961, he left the foreign service and returned to private life. During much of this time, he served as President of the International Rescue Commission. Originally a Republican, he later became a Democrat.[1]

In 1960, Duke, a personal friend of Kennedy, was asked to serve as chief of protocol for the U.S. State Department with the rank of ambassador. He held this position until 1965. As a vocal supporter of equal rights, "he resigned from the Metropolitan Club of Washington after it refused to admit black diplomats" in 1961.[1] His most visible task during his term as chief was to supervise the protocol for world leaders who attended the November 25, 1963 funeral of John F. Kennedy.[1]

At end of his term as chief of protocol, the Johnson administration asked him to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Spain, which he did from 1965 to 1968.[15] He then served as Chief of Protocol a second time for less than 6 months until he was appointed to become the U.S. Ambassador to Denmark. He served in that position for 7 months.[16] In 1969, he was awarded an honorary LL.D. degree from Duke University.[17] Following Vice President Hubert Humphrey's defeat to Richard Nixon, and with the Democratic Party out of power, he was again out of the U.S. Foreign Service. In the early 1970s, he was appointed by Mayor Abraham Beame to serve as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Civic Affairs and Public Events with a staff of 17 until he resigned in 1976 to work for Jimmy Carter's campaign for the presidency.[18]

When Carter defeated Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential election, the Democrats were again in power, and in 1979 the administration brought him back again to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Morocco, a position he held until 1981, when he was succeeded by Joseph Verner Reed, Jr. following Ronald Reagan's election to president.[1]

Later yearsEdit

Upon his return to the United States, the National Committee on American Foreign Policy awarded him with the inaugural Hans J. Morgenthau Memorial Award "in recognition of his exemplary foreign policy contributions to the United States."[14] From 1992 to 1995, Duke served as the elected president of the Council of American Ambassadors. He was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution.[19] He also served as the chancellor of the Long Island University, Southampton Campus.[20]

After his death, his papers were archived by Duke University in North Carolina.[17]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1936, he married Priscilla Avenal St. George (1919–1995). She was the daughter of George Baker Bligh St. George and Katharine St. George, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York.[21] Her maternal grandmother, Catherine Delano Collier, was the younger sister of Sara Delano Roosevelt, the mother of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and her great-grandfather was George Fisher Baker, the financier and philanthropist. Her father was the grandson of Robert St George, himself the son of Sir Richard Bligh St George, 2nd Baronet Before their divorce in August 1940, they were the parents of:

  • Angier "Pony" St. George Duke (1937–2014), who married Mary Ellen Haga in 1973.[22] He was known for infecting Margaret Housen with gonorrhea in 1970.[23][24]

Following their divorce, Priscilla married State Senator Allan A. Ryan, Jr. (1903–1981) in 1941.[25][26] In November 1940, the 26 year old Duke married the 34 year old Margaret Screven White immediately after her divorce from J. M. Tuck.[19] Margaret had also been married to Fitzhugh White and was the daughter of Franklin Buchanan Screven, great-granddaughter of Admiral Franklin Screven, commander of the Confederate USS Merrimack, and a descendant of Thomas McKean, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.[19]

They divorced in 1952, the same year Duke married Maria-Luisa de Arana of Spain.[27] She was the daughter of Isabella de Zurita and Dario de Arana and the granddaughter of the 10th Marquis de Campo Real,[28] members of the Basque nobility of Bilbao.[27] His third wife died in a plane crash in 1961.[29][30]

  • Maria-Luisa Duke (b. 1954),[31]
  • Drexel Dario Duke (b. 1957).[28]

In 1962, he married Robin Chandler Lynn (1923–2016), who served as the United States Ambassador to Norway during the Clinton administration.[32] She had previously been married to Jeffrey Lynn, the actor and film producer, and was the daughter of Richard Edgar and Esther Chandler Tippett.[33] They lived together at 740 Park Avenue in New York.[9] Robin and Angier remained married until his death in 1995.[2][34]

  • Angier Biddle Duke, Jr. (b. 1963)[20]

Duke died at the age of 79, from being struck by a car while rollerblading.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Severo, Richard (30 April 1995). "Angier Biddle Duke, Diplomat, 79, Dies; Scion of a Prominent American Family". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Richard Severo (May 1, 1995). "Angier Biddle Duke, 79, an Ambassador And Scion of Tobacco Family, Has Died". The New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Fox, Margalit (2 May 2014). "Anthony Drexel Duke, 95, Dies; Scion of Wealth Aided Underprivileged". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Divorce Recommended for Mrs. A.B. Duke – Master Files Report in Action Brought by Farmer Cordelia Biddle". The New York Times. 20 September 1921. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  5. ^ "Mrs. Duke Wins Divorce – Former Miss Cordelia Biddle Receives Decree in Philadelphia". The New York Times. 25 October 1921. p. 19. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  6. ^ "A Washington Duke genealogy as it pertains to Duke University". Archived from the original on 5 March 2011. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
  7. ^ Hewitt, Bill (May 22, 1995). "Where There's a Will - Vol. 43 No. 20". Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Tribute From Eisenhower". The New York Times. 14 November 1961. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  9. ^ a b Gross, Michael (2006). 740 Park: The Story of the World's Richest Apartment Building. Broadway Books. pp. 304–308. ISBN 9780767917445. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  10. ^ Noel F. Busch (October 4, 1943). "Ambassador Biddle: As multiple envoy to governments-in-exile, he is foremost U.S. expert on postwar plans and problems of Europe's courageous little nations". Life magazine: 106–114, 117–120. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
  11. ^ "New Yorker Is Appointed U.S. Envoy to El Salvador". The New York Times. 25 March 1952. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Decreto Nº 6" (PDF). Diario Oficial (in Spanish). Tomo 155 Número 109. San Salvador, El Salvador, Central America. 10 June 1952. p. 3971. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  13. ^ "A. B. Duke Back From Salvador". The New York Times. 31 May 1953. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  14. ^ a b Hinds, Michael deCourcy (4 June 1981). "Notable Turnout for Angier Biddle Duke". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  15. ^ "New U.S. Envoy in Spain". The New York Times. 29 March 1965. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  16. ^ "Duke Again Protocol Chief". The New York Times. 2 April 1968. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  17. ^ a b "Guide to the Angier Biddle Duke Papers, 1923-1990s and undated". Duke University Libraries. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
  18. ^ "Maria‐Luisa Duke Wed To F. A. de Peyster 3d". The New York Times. 11 September 1974. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  19. ^ a b c "Mrs. Margaret Tuck of Tuxedo Park Wed In Nevada Church to Angier Biddle Duke". The New York Times. 26 November 1940. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  20. ^ a b "Biddle Duke to Wed Idoline Scheerer". The New York Times. 10 June 1990. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  21. ^ Treaster, Joseph B. (5 May 1983). "Katharine St. George is Dead; Served New York in Congress". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  22. ^ "A. St. George Biddle 'Pony' Duke". The Billings Gazette. October 13, 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  23. ^ Maxa, Rudy (4 November 1979). "Bizarre End To a Brief Romance". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  24. ^ "Pony Duke". Deerfield Academy. June 19, 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  25. ^ "Allan A. Ryan Weds Mrs. St. George Duke – Surprise Ceremony Is Performed at Tuxedo Park Estate". The New York Times. 6 August 1941. p. 13. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  26. ^ Times, Special To the New York (16 September 1973). "John Winthrop Aldrich Weds Mrs. Middleton". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  27. ^ a b "Angier B. Duke, Envoy to El Salvador, Weds Maria Luisa de Arana in Mexico City Church". The New York Times. 12 December 1952. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  28. ^ a b "Son to the Angier B. Dukes". The New York Times. 26 May 1957. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  29. ^ Kihss, Peter (19 July 1961). "Mrs. Angier B. Duke Dies in Plane Crash In Queens With 2 Other Society Women – Air Taxi Pilot Also Killed in Plunge Into Garden After Taking Off". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  30. ^ "Mrs. Duke Rites Attended by 500; Wife of Protocol Chief Buried on L.I. -- Spellman Presides". The New York Times. 22 July 1961. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  31. ^ "Mrs. Angier B. Duke Has Child". The New York Times. 19 July 1954. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  32. ^ McFadden, Robert D. (7 February 2016). "Robin Chandler Duke, Philanthropist Who Championed Women's Rights, Dies at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  33. ^ "Angier B. Duke, 79; Former Envoy, White House Aide". Los Angeles Times. May 1, 1995. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  34. ^ "Leave It to the Girls". New York Social Diary. 8 February 2016. Archived from the original on 2 June 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2017.

External linksEdit

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
George P. Shaw
United States Ambassador to El Salvador
Succeeded by
Michael J. McDermott
Preceded by
Robert F. Woodward
United States Ambassador to Spain
Succeeded by
Frank E. McKinney
Preceded by
Katharine Elkus White
United States Ambassador to Denmark
Succeeded by
Guilford Dudley Jr.
Preceded by
Richard B. Parker
United States Ambassador to Morocco
Succeeded by
Joseph Verner Reed, Jr.