De Wesselitsky’s growing political connections enabled him to visit the former Prime Minister William Gladstone as he lay dying at his home at Harwarden. The Times reported, on May 14th 1898, that “Mr. G. de Wesselitsky, President of the Foreign Press Association in London, paid a visit to Harwarden Castle on Tuesday and was received by members of Mr. Gladstone’s family, to whom he transmitted the resolution of deep sympathy adopted at the FPA Annual dinner”. After listening to the message Mr. Gladstone answered: - “I charge you to covey my never ceasing gratitude, although I am in extremis”. Five days later the People’s William died. By chance, it was to Gladstone’s former home at 11 Carlton House Terrace - where he had lived from 1857 to 1875 – that the FPA moved in 1946. It served as the FPA’s base for the next sixty three years.
The Boer War in 1899 caused violent dissention across Europe, particularly Germany. Foreign correspondents based in London were filing deeply antagonistic stories on the war to their home newspapers. De Wesselitsky convened and chaired a meeting of English and foreign journalists to discuss these polemics. He opened the meeting saying that foreign correspondents needed to understand English ideas and feelings. “Above all”, he said “they should not attack the sovereign”, whom he praised in extravagant terms. He admired the self control and manliness of Englishmen and greatly admired the charm of English women. German, Greek and French journalists all spoke out against a war which they said was motivated by greed and ambition. The outcome was the passing of three resolutions, the first that there should be no further attacks on the King, and other two that foreign journalists should behave themselves and not make sweeping charges against the press of other countries. King Edward VII subsequently sent a letter to the FPA expressing approval of their efforts to promote international harmony.
In the early years of the twentieth century the FPA acted in much the same way as it does now with regular briefings on a wide range of subjects for its members. The minutes of weekly committee meetings were carefully recorded - hand written, sometimes in scrawl and sometimes in the most artistic copper plate hand. In 1912 the committee voted the money to buy a second hand typing machine for £2 and gradually the new technology produced minutes that were (badly) typed. Arrangements made for dinners noted in the minutes stated that they were for men only; ladies were only invited into the reception after the event for drinks and polite conversation. De Wesselitsky stepped down as President of the FPA in 1911, after almost a quarter of a century as its President. He remained a potent force in the Association’s affairs however, as witnessed by the minute books of the time.
Strict formality was maintained throughout this period; all journalists were required to wear morning coat and top hat during their visits to the Foreign Office. Because De Wesselitsky represented the Russian Red Cross in Britain – at least until the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 - he was entitled to the honorary rank of Tsarist General. In a triumphant stroke of one upmanship he attended all briefings at the Foreign Office in the glittering full uniform and regalia of his rank. From accounts in the press this Russian nobleman of formidable character became a member of London society and more English than the English. He remained in harness until well after the war and died in 1930 at the age of 90 and was the subject of long obituaries in most of the important Fleet Street papers. The Times in its columns stated that he was one of the great journalistic figures of the nineteenth century and The Foreign Press Association remains as his monument to this day.