St James’s Palace
St James’s Palace
Before the construction of large-scale conference venues or institutional spaces, major international meetings depending on pre-existing public and private spaces, including state buildings, aristocratic houses, and royal palaces. The Round Table Conference was inaugurated by King George V on November 12th 1930 in the Royal Gallery of the Palace of Westminster but the conference took place in another Palace. Built for Henry VIII, St James’s Palace sat at the political and social heart of London. Having already hosted the London Naval Conference earlier that year, which worked towards international disarmament, it then became a space of intense international attention as the venue for the first two sittings of the Round Table Conference. Much media coverage focused on the fact that the ‘Round Table’, due to the number of delegates and the shape of the Queen Ann Drawing Room, was oval. Fitted out with a post office, telephone exchange, and press quarters, the Palace functioned well as a conference venue. It was, however, legendarily difficult to keep warm. Worried about how visiting Indian delegates would deal with London winters, the Palace was heated day and night with roaring fires. It was a popular and welcoming venue, an unexpectedly Tudor home for an imperial international conference. In 1936 it played host to a meeting of the League of Nations Council, aimed at diffusing tensions on the Franco-German border.
The Illustrated Weekly of India, November 2nd 1930 / Reproduced with permission of the British Library
“St James’s Palace,” Spaces of Internationalism, accessed March 25, 2023, https://spacesofinternationalism.omeka.net/items/show/17.