On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

This time not only does Bond get the girl, but he marries her too. The second book in a trilogy, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is best read after Thunderball.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service Covers

Author: Ian Fleming
Publication date:
 1st April 1963
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Cover artist: Richard Chopping

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The story starts in Royale-les-Eaux with Bond saving a girl from drowning herself, who turns out to be the daughter of the head of the Union Corse, Corsica’s equivilent to the mafia. He asks Bond to marry his daughter and as a favour for saving her offers any assistance he can. Bond is trying to track down SPECTRE’s leader, Blofeld, after Thunderball, and the information eventually takes him to Switzerland, where the criminal organisation is planning to attack the UK using biological warfare.

We learn more about the location of Royale-les-Eaux than Fleming had given away in Casino Royale. Bond is driving his Bentley for a night at the tables of the casino, when a girl in a white Lacia Flaminia Zagato Spyder overtakes him. He is on “that fast but dull stretch of N1 between Abbeville and Montreuil” and takes chase. The first opportunity we really have to place Royale is when Bond reaches a sign saying “Montreuil 5, Royale-les-Eaux 10, Le Touquet-Paris-Plage 15”.

He then follows the girl through Montreuil and over the Étaples-Paris level crossing, after which “the left-hand turn for Royale came up”. This is where things don’t add up though – the distance from Montreuil to the coast is a total of more than 20 km, rather than the 10 km on the sign. However, 12 km from Wailly-Beaucamp is Berck-Sur-Mer, known at the turn of the 20th century as Berck-Plage.

This has the requisite casino and a beach, two attributes essential for Royale-les-Eaux, and at the turn of the 20th century became a place to visit for its air and light, much in the same way as Royale was visited for its spring water. Probably Royale is a mixture of several of the casino towns in the area and placing it precisely is futile.

What we say

After The Spy Who Loved Me, Fleming’s next book was a much more straightforward Bond adventure.

The second book in the Blofeld trilogy sees Bond meet his future wife, learn the location of Ernst Stavro Blofeld and foil SPECTRE’s plan to decimate Britain’s agriculture using biological agents. Bond is also married, but his wife murdered before they even start their honeymoon.

Featuring some spectacular alpine action the plot is a little absurd, but ahead of its time in using biological warfare. There are some good moments in the book and 007 gets to spend Christmas Day with M. Amusingly Blofeld shares Ian Fleming’s date of birth.

Friends & foes

Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo is the beautiful, intelligent daughter of Marc-Ange Draco, the head of the Unione Corse. When Tracy first appears in the novel she is a troubled woman with a turbulent past and contemplating suicide. Bond is drawn to her intelligence and independence and as the story progresses, Tracy’s strength, resilience, and vulnerability shine through. Her involvement with Bond also adds depth and emotional depth to the narrative.

Marc-Ange Draco is Tracy’s father and a prominent figure in the criminal underworld. Despite his illicit activities, Draco shares a unique bond with Bond and forms an unlikely alliance. As head of the Union Corse, a powerful crime organization, Draco possesses the resources and connections that prove instrumental in assisting Bond. His character also adds shades of grey to the story.

Marc-Ange Draco is the head of the Unione Corse, the biggest European crime syndicate. Draco is a complex and contradictory character. He is a ruthless and cunning man, but he is also a loving father to his daughter, Tracy, his only child and capable of great kindness. Despite his illicit activities, Draco forms an unlikely alliance with Bond. As head of the Union Corse Draco possesses the resources and connections that prove instrumental in assisting Bond. His character also adds shades of grey to the story.

Sir Hilary Bray is an expert in heraldry and acts as a consultant for the College of Arms in London. When Bond assumes the identity of Sir Hilary Bray, he seeks Bray’s guidance to perfect his cover story as a genealogist. He assists Bond in understanding the intricacies of coats of arms, family history, and lineage. With Bray’s expertise, Bond gains valuable insights into his fake identity, ensuring that his cover remains convincing and believable. Bray is a minor character in the novel, but he plays an important role in Bond’s mission. While unaware of Bond’s plans, he is willing to help Bond in any way that he can.

Ernst Stavro Blofeld is a ruthless and intelligent criminal mastermind who heads SPECTRE. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Blofeld is planning to attack the economies of Britain and Irish using biological warfare to destroy their agriculture. Bond’s must stop Blofeld and prevent him from carrying out his plan. However, his vanity proved to be a weakness. Adopting the identity of Comte Balthazar de Bleuville, he is keen for confirmation of the title.

Irma Bunt: Blofeld’s personal assistant is a large and imposing woman, fiercely loyal to Blofeld and one of Bond’s most formidable opponents in the book. Bond first encounters Bunt when he is impersonating Sir Hilary Bray. While Bunt does not suspect Bond’s true identity, but she is suspicious of him from the start. An integral part of Blofeld’s operations, she is a cold-hearted and ruthless character, committed to carrying out Blofeld’s orders with unwavering dedication.


On Her Majesty’s Secret Service starts in Royale-les-Eaux, a small town in northern France known for its casino. Bond visits the town on his annual pilgrimage to Vesper’s grave, and while there meets Tracy di Vicenzo.

The Royal College of Arms is a heraldic authority located in London, responsible for granting and recording coats of arms and other heraldic devices. James Bond visits the Royal College of Arms for assistance with his cover as a heraldry expert and to research the title Comte de Bleuville, which Blofeld is trying to adopt.

Posing as Sir Hilary Bray, Bond stays as a guest of Blofeld at Piz Gloria, his mountain-top clinic. While there he discovers that Blofeld is planning to spread biological agents throughout the UK and Ireland. After escaping Bond meets Tracy once again in Samedan on Christmas Eve. She helps him escape from Blofeld’s men and they continue to Zurich Airport. Bond proposes to Tracy over breakfast before he boards a flight to London.

M lives in a Regency manor-house named Quarterdeck located in Windsor Forest. Bond visits Quarterdeck on Christmas Day to brief M on his mission to Piz Gloria.

Bond visits Marseille to meet Draco, Bond is driven along the famous Canebière, eventually arriving at the home of his future father-in-law, Marc-Ange Draco. He then travels to Strasbourg where he stays at the Hotel Maison Rouge.

James Bond joins Tracy in Munich after the raid on Piz Gloria, where they stay at the Vier Jahreszeiten hotel. After visiting a number of antique shops in search of an engagement ring unsuccessfully he is sent out to find one himself and afterwards celebrates with his taxi-driver at Franziskaner Keller with Weisswurst and beer. The are married on New Year’s Day in British Consul General’s drawing room. Afterwards they set off for Kitzbühel in Austria, but while on the road Blofeld catches up with them.


After checking into Hotel Splendide in Royale-les-Eaux, Bond orders a bottle of the Taittinger Blanc de Blancs. He downs a quarter of it before showering, and afterwards sips champagne while looking at the promenade from his window while deciding plans for the evening.

The previous night we learn that he had stayed at a “mock-Breton Auberge” on the south bank of the Loire. There he had dined poorly, a “fly walk” of the house pate followed by chicken with cream and an “instant” bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé.

Bond decides to go to “one of his favourite restaurants in France”, just opposite the railway station in Étaples, where he has poached turbot with mousseline sauce followed by half a roast partridge. He drinks half a bottle of Mouton Rothschild ’53 and finishes with a glass of 10 year old Calvados and three cups of coffee.

After rescuing Tracy from her coup du déshonneur at the baccarat table Bond joins her at the bar of the casino. She has a half bottle of Bollinger in front of her. He orders a half bottle of Krug and, when it arrives, he fills his glass and drains it.

After being captured by Draco’s men, Bond’s host takes bottles of “Pinchbottle Haig” and IW Harper’s Bourbon from a “complete and compact” contained within a filing cabinet. Draco also produces “two pint glasses that looked like Waterford”, ice, soda water, and iced water. Bond pours himself a stiff Bourbon with water and lots of ice, while his host opts for the scotch.

Back in London, Bond plans his evening before flying to Switzerland. After two double vodka and tonics with a dash of Angostura he’ll get May to cook a large dish of scrambled eggs fines herbes, followed by two more vodka and tonics and “half a grain of seconal” and for a “cosy self-anaesthesia”. The next day at London Airport Bond has two double brandies and ginger ale. He feels ridiculous playing the role of a baronet, and eventually decides to just act himself.

Once at Piz Gloria, Irma Bunt tells Bond pre-dinner drinks are at six and bed is at 10. Bond orders a whisky and soda and is introduced to “ten gorgeous girls”, the patients at Blofeld’s supposed allergy clinic. After Ruby goes through the names of all the others Bond orders another.

After breakfast the following morning Bond gets to work on the Bleuville lineage until lunchtime. Sitting on the sun terrace he orders a double medium-dry vodka Martini on the rocks and oeufs Gloria with green salad. Afterwards he continues to research the Bleuvilles in his room, only interrupted by an unexpected visit from Ruby. Later he heads to the bar and orders a a double Bourbon on the rocks and a Daiquiri for Violet. After Bunt ushers them to a table Bunt they order more drinks and Bond finds the bourbon is helping him unwind.

Before lunch the following day Bond again orders a double vodka martini. He downs it in two gulps and immediately orders another. Planning to make his escape, he decides to fuel up, eating pâté, oeufs Gloria and the cheese tray. He continues to fuel up at dinner, concentrating on “getting plenty of whisky and food under his belt”.

After escaping from Piz Gloria, and with Tracy’s help, Bond flies back to London on Christmas Day. He’s met at the airport by Mary Goodnight. Before going to headquarters they stop at his Chelsea flat, asking Goodnight to get May to “brew me plenty of black coffee and to pour two jiggers of our best brandy into the pot” while he cleans himself up.

An hour later in his office he dictates his report to Goodnight then heads for M’s “small Regency manor-house on the edge of Windsor Forest”. M ushers Bond through to the dining room, explaining “we’ve got to go through the turkey and plum pudding routine”. During lunch Bond, who is “aching for a drink” has “a small glass of very old Marsala” as well as “most of a bottle of very bad Algerian wine” that M refers to as ‘Infuriator’.

“Staple drink for the fleet in the Mediterranean”, he tells Bond. After meeting with the Head of the Scientific Research Section and a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture to discuss what Blofeld might be up to, M orders a pot of tea. Bond opts for whisky and soda instead. That evening Bond calls Tracy in Munich, when he tells he her has eaten “two ham sandwiches with stacks of mustard and half a pint of Harper’s Bourbon on the rocks”.

Back in France the following day, Draco invites Bond to help himself to a drink. He pours “a stiff” Jack Daniel’s on the rocks and adds some water. That evening in his Strasbourg hotel Bond orders “the finest foie gras, pink and succulent, and half a bottle of champagne”.

The next day he is driven to a large barn located an hour from the hotel. While Draco’s men are preparing equipment for the assault on Piz Gloria, “Bond accepted a foot of garlic sausage, a hunk of bread, and a bottle of the ‘Pis-de-Chat’”. Afterwards they board a helicopter acquired by the Union Corse boss, headed for Piz Gloria.

The assault on Piz Gloria is a long night for Bond. Battered and bruised after pursuing Blofeld on the bobsleigh run he makes his way to Zurich, arriving on the doorstep of the Head of Station Z at two in the morning. Alexander Muir invites Bond inside and tells him to help himself to a drink. While Fleming doesn’t specify what Bond serves himself, Muir pours himself a “thin” whisky and soda.

The next day Bond flies into Munich airport to be reunited with Tracy. She drives him to their hotel, the Vier Jahreszeiten. He asks her to change his dressings, telling her after that afterwards he would “buy you a drink. Just one. And three for me. That’s the right ratio between men and women”. After that he plans on “a wonderful dinner in Walterspiel’s and talk about rings” and their domestic arrangements.

They find a wedding ring easily enough but Tracy can’t make her mind up about the engagement ring. She sends Bond heads out to choose one on his own. After buying a “baroque ring in white gold with two diamond hands clasped” Bond and his ex-Luftwaffe taxi-driver head to Franziskaner Keller. There they eat “mounds of Weisswurst” and have four steins of beer each. When Bond returns to the hotel, Tracy loves the ring. “You stink like a pig of beer and sausages”, she tells him. “Where have you been?”

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David Leigh founded The James Bond Dossier in 2002. A fan of 007 since the age of 8, he is also author of The Complete Guide to the Drinks of James Bond. You can order a copy here if you don't own it already.

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