Lord Astor Bumps into Mandy Rice-Davies

During a performance of Stephen Ward the Musical, Viscount Astor, son of Bill Astor of The Cliveden Estate, (and coincidently David Cameron's father-in-law) bumped into Mandy Rice-Davies. He said it was a 'great plus' to have met her, and that 'She was absolutely charming, and had very kind words to say about my father. It was a most unexpected moment - a reconciliation of sorts, and an uplifting footnote after all these years.'

He also spoke about the accusations against his father about his affair with Rice-Davies, 'And what of the accusation? Well any girl of 19 who can get into the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, whether with something true or not true, has to be rather admired.' 

In the Summer of 1961, at a party hosted by Bill Astor, good time girl Christine Keeler met Minister of War John 'Jack' Profumo after a party at Cliveden. After the party moved to the pool, they socialised with Astor's osteopath, Stephen Ward, who was surrounded by young showgirls. 

‘Two worlds collided,’ Lord Astor said. ‘First into the walled garden was Valerie Profumo, who anxiously covered up a topless Christine Keeler with a towel before the other guests arrived. But Christine had already been spotted by Jack Profumo.’ 

The Viscount said his father 'fell under his [Stephen Ward's] spell' as his father found Ward's treatments very helpful for his migraines and neuritis. He was then allowed to live in a cottage on the Cliveden estate as it suited Lord Astor's father to be treated after hunting on Saturdays.

He went on:

I remember the afternoons by the pool when Ward and his girlfriends came to swim, with other families from cottages on the estate, usually when my father and stepmother were away. One of the girls taught me how to do backflips from the diving board, but sadly I don’t remember who she was. All were well-behaved because Nanny Greene, large and in full uniform, presided over the pool sternly. No bad behaviour got past her.

It was a scandal that exposed the hypocrisy of the establishment that Ward so offended, exposed the dishonesty of the police and prosecuting authorities and of the security service. But I don’t think there were the real villains or heroes that a musical requires. This is because, in the end, the characters in the Profumo scandal were all victims - victims of a maelstrom that none could escape. Few survived unscathed.