War in Europe: Congratulations, but no celebration, at Nato's 50th party...

THE CHANDELIERS sparkled, the Pimm's flowed, and the socialites' plastic surgery glistened. While their husbands debated ground troops for Kosovo at this weekend's Nato summit, Cherie Blair and Hillary Clinton mingled with the great and good of Washington in the British Embassy's marble-lined drawing room. It was a long way from the refugee crisis in the Balkans.

Then Mrs Blair took the platform at the end of the room and made a passionate appeal for the plight of children abducted and taken abroad by estranged parents. This was not just another summiteers' reception, it was the launch of a children's charity set up by the British Ambassador's wife, Lady Meyer. "Very New Labour," one diplomat said disapprovingly.

Delegates at the Nato summit were all too aware of how it would look if they were seen guzzling champagne while discussing the plight of ethnic Albanians forced to flee their homes in Kosovo. The celebrations for this 50th birthday party were dramatically scaled back, and the emphasis of those which went ahead was on worthiness.

The politicians and their aides did get to a few parties - Bill Clinton hosted a dinner for leaders and their wives at the White House on Friday night, while Madeleine Albright and William Cohen organised a similar event for foreign and defence ministers at the State Department. And the mayor of Washington gave a glitzy reception for delegates at the National Building Museum on Saturday night. But everybody was concentrating on making sure it did not look as if they were having too much fun.

A black-tie dinner for heads of state and 800 grandees had been planned by the White House for Saturday night. It was downgraded into a less formal lounge-suit event, and an expected performance by Barbra Streisand was cancelled because it was felt to be inappropriate. The exuberant flag- waving commemoration ceremony was slashed from five hours to less than two. "Champagne is definitely off the menu," one organiser said.

This was all slightly unfortunate for the companies which had given $250,000 each to become members of the board of the Nato Anniversary Summit Host Committee. More than pounds 8m was raised in corporate sponsorship for the Washington event. Ford, Microsoft and Motorola were among the most generous donors, earning a place on the board. Dozens more organisations gave money or gifts in kind - Mercedes cars from one company to drive delegates around, bottles of gin for the parties from another.

But donors had hoped to be associated with one of the most glamorous events of the year. They thought they would have access to lobby the heads of 40 states. In fact, the Kosovo crisis meant that the tone of the event changed drastically at the last minute. Only one mobile phone company bothered to set up an exhibition stand in the conference centre. The others were worried that commercial activity would look tasteless against the backdrop of ethnic cleansing.

"The summit is not exactly celebratory any more," one member of the host committee said. "It's no longer the ideal corporate sponsorship event."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick