Christ Church, Oxford OX1 2JD, UK
5 Belgrave Square, Belgravia, London SW1X 8PH, UK
Kelvedon Hall, Kelvedon Hall Ln, Kelvedon Hatch, Brentwood CM14 5TG, UK
Sir Henry Channon (7 March 1897 – 7 October 1958), often known as Chips Channon, was an American-born British Conservative politician, author and diarist. Channon moved to England in 1920 and became strongly anti-American, feeling that American cultural and economic views threatened traditional European and British civilisation. He wrote extensively about these views. Channon quickly became enamoured of London society and became a social and political climber.
Channon was first elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) in 1935. In his political career he failed to achieve ministerial office and was unsuccessful in his pursuit of a peerage, but he is remembered as one of the most famous political and social diarists of the 20th century. His diaries have so far been published only in an expurgated edition.
In 1933, Channon married the brewing heiress Lady Honor Guinness (1909–1976), eldest daughter of Rupert Guinness, 2nd Earl of Iveagh. In 1935 their only child was born, a son, whom they named Paul. On 31 January 1936, the Channons moved into a grand London house at 5 Belgrave Square, near the London house of the Duke of Kent, and two years later also acquired a country estate at Kelvedon Hatch, near Brentwood in Essex. Channon quickly established himself as a society host, in his famous blue and silver dining room designed by Stéphane Boudin and modelled on the Amalienburg. Perhaps the apogee of his career in that role came on Thursday, 19 November 1936, with a guest list headed by Edward VIII, Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, then Regent and his wife Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark, the Duke of Kent and his wife Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark and Mrs Simpson, of whom Channon was a friend and admirer. Twenty-two days later, on 11 December, Edward abdicated.
In July 1939, Channon met the landscape designer Peter Daniel Coats (1910–1990), with whom he began an affair that led to Channon's separation from his wife the following year and the dissolution of the marriage in 1945. Despite Channon's conduct, it was he who sued for divorce. His wife, who had left him in favour of a Czech airman, did not contest the suit and he was, therefore, theoretically the innocent party. Among others with whom he is known to have had affairs was the playwright Terence Rattigan, and Channon was on intimate terms with Prince Paul of Yugoslavia and the Duke of Kent, though whether those relationships were platonic or otherwise is not yet known.
Once it became clear that he would not achieve ministerial office, Channon sought elevation to the peerage, but in this, too, he was unsuccessful. The highest honour he achieved was a knighthood in 1957, the year before his death.
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