Mrs. Angier Biddle Duke, Wife Of Protocol Chief, Buys Off The Rack


Mrs.Angier Biddle Duke, wife of the new U.S. Chief of Protocol and official hostess, second only to the First Lady, is right at home with New Frontiers.

She plowed through a few precedents in her native Spain.

"No female in our family for 500 years ever had a job, she said in a lilting, melodic voice, "and when I decided to become a hostess with Iberia Air Lines, my family was horrified!"

She flew for eight months, until "the dreadful old planes" began to make her fear for her life . Subsequently, she married the American diplomat-statesman and she has been hostessing on the ground ever since.

A dynamic and charming brunette, Lulu Biddle Duke has a fetching smile and engaging laugh crinkles at the edges of her hazel eyes which give you the impression she enjoys whatever she does.

IN HER FIRST (unofficial) interview, Lulu Biddle Duke began ticking off her plans and commitments -- "I will want to see all the Ambassadors and their wives and must arrange appointments. That will take time."

In two weeks she and the ex-Ambassador to El Salvador will introduce President Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy to Washington's diplomat corps.

Trying to hunt for a fairly big house and garden "for the kids" Marilu, 6, and Dario, 3, is an additional assignment. A perfect size 12, Mrs. Duke can get her clothes right off the rack and does "If I like the dress, it doesn't matter who designed it."

Because she has known Balenciaga all her life, he did her trousseau.

Fluent in English, Spanish and French, she has a delicious sense of humor and an effective feeling for the American idiom.

A very natural and relaxed noblewoman, she loves to ride, play tennis and swim. Her simplicity in jewelry was evidenced by a single wedding band and triple strand pearls. On her sleek pageboy hairdo she wore a felt burgundy cloche; her blue wool dress was a simple sheath.

I would love to have luncheons in my home for four or six women at a time ," she said softly. "That way I can get to know all of them.

Since her husband is president of the Council on Inter-American affairs, they tendered a buffet reception for Hispanic-Americans prior to the Inaugural Ball as their first large Washington unofficial undertaking.

NEW PROTOCOL problems will confront the Dukes, for no new rules have been set down since the Congress of Vienna met in 1815.

One thing is sure, if Lulu Duke is any indication, protocol will be charmingly dispatched in the New Frontiers.