Strike at the Savoy sparked 'spy' fears

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A strike at the Savoy Hotel sparked by the sacking of an Italian waiter caused panic in the post-war Labour government over fears it would disrupt the Queen's wedding and presage the infiltration of London's leading hotels by Communists.

Such was the level of anxiety caused by the industrial action at the Savoy in 1947, that senior ministers discussed the issue in the Cabinet, amid concern that institutions from the Dorchester to Claridge's would become "centres for espionage" and leave managers open to blackmail.

Staff at the Savoy's five-star residence on the Strand went on strike following the dismissal of a waiter named only as "P" in November 1947, days before the then Princess Elizabeth was to marry Prince Phillip.

With dozens of notables and assorted crowned heads of state due to stay at the hotel for the wedding on 20 November, the Cabinet met three days before the wedding to discuss concerns that P was a suspect Italian Communist and wartime internee who had been "planted" by the British Revolutionary Communist Party to foment rebellion.

Notes made of the meeting by the Cabinet secretary, Sir Norman Brook, which have been released at National Archives, show that Aneurin Bevan, the architect of the National Health Service, led the concern about Reds under London's hotel beds.