The Lion's Diplomatic Missions 
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This information comes from the book "Admiral of the Fleet Earl Beatty" by Stephen Rorkill

The battle cruisers' [battle and target practice] exercises were broken off in February 1914 for a round of diplomatic and social visits - which cannot have helped to improve fighting efficiency. Beatty first took the Lion, Princess Royal, Queen Mary and New Zealand to Brest - chiefly to co-ordinate the activities of the French and British fleets in the event of war, but judging by his letters to Ethel [his wife] sport and entertainment took a more prominent place in the programme.

In June Beatty set off for the Baltic ports of Riga, Revel and Kronstadt, where the visit was 'one continuous round of gaiety punctuated by rigid ceremonial'. He was followed by Ethel in the yacht Sheelah, and they both lunched with the Tsar and Tsarina at the palace of Tsarkoye Selo, and then entertained the Royal Family on board the Lion. To cap the whole series of lavish entertainments Beatty decided to give a ball on an unprecedented scale for over 2,000 guests. The New Zealand was brought alongside the Lion, one ship providing the ballroom and the other the supper rooms - where Beatty's invaluable steward Woodley set out the 100 dozen bottles of champagne, which he had managed to acquire by assiduous approaches to various embassies and legations, on a large number of small round tables specially made by the ships' craftsmen out of rum casks and wooden planking. The ball was an immense success and the consumption of alcohol fully justified Woodley's anticipations. Then Beatty and some of his officers visited Moscow by special invitation, and were as sumptuously entertained there as in St Petersburg.

When the squadron sailed at the end of the month the Tsar came to sea to witness a demonstration of British naval might provided by the battle cruisers carrying out tactical exercises at high speed. Though the social aspects of the visit were certainly a resounding success one may doubt whether the orgiastic display of both hosts and visitors contributed anything to preparation for war. Rather does it leave the reader unsurprised that collapse and revolution in Russia lay little more than three years ahead.

Beatty was gazetted Knight Commander of the Bath in the birthday honours while in Russia, and on 2nd August he was promoted to the rank of Acting Vice-Admiral. Meanwhile on 28th June, while the festivities were at their height, the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated at Sarajevo by a young Bosnian who had received arms and instructions in Serbia. One may doubt whether Beatty or any of his staff appreciated the significance of that early example of what has come to be called urban terrorism.


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