WESTON CONNECTION: London was more swinging than a three-ring circus during its recent social season. Sir Elton John’s fifth annual White Tie & Tiara Ball might have attracted the most paparazzi — and raised millions of dollars, with guests from Liz Hurley to Lily Safra — but Galen and Hilary Weston took the laurels for most-talked-about party of the summer. The bash, nominally to celebrate Hilary’s 60th birthday, was a show of the couple’s pure social might. According to gossips, the Westons had originally wanted Prince Charles as their royal guest, since Weston and the Prince are old polo buddies. But St. James’ Palace refused to “give them a date,” as the social argot has it, meaning that the Prince couldn’t fit the Westons into his schedule. So the Westons called in their second royal choice — the Queen. She did give them a date, and Her Majesty came to the party at Fort Belvedere, the Duke of Windsor’s former residence where the Westons now live. In addition to the Queen and the Westons, the top table was filled by the Blacks and the Bamfords, London’s current It couples. (They later gave a lunch in their country house — and did get Prince Charles, who arrived in their private helicopter.) Apparently, it did the Queen some good to get out of the house — she seemed to have had a ball at the Westons and was said to have stayed until 2 a.m.
Other top invitations during the season were issued from Prince Charles, who hosted his annual round of events for the American friends of the Prince of Wales Foundation; Lord Jacob Rothschild, who entertained at Somerset House; the Livanoses, who gave a dinner at home, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, who had cocktails in the garden at Kensington Palace to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Those who braved blustery skies to toast the Kents included other “minor royals” such as the Duke of Kent; Princess Alexandra with Sir Angus Ogilvy, and Freddie Windsor. Also there were the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, Annabel Goldsmith, Amyn Aga Khan, the Begum Aga Khan, Prince Rupert Loewenstein and the Blacks. Prince Michael, who looks increasingly like the last czar, his kinsman Nicholas II, struck up a conversation in fluent Russian with Helene de Ludinghausen, another Russian relation.
This story first appeared in the July 7, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.