After all the big-time notoriety in the family lately comes a tiny royal fracas: William and Harry — and please don’t ask William and Harry who — staged a fervent campaign for their favorite rock stars — Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, ‘NSYNC and Destiny’s Child — barraging their father, the Prince of Wales, who’s got to be just about barraged out by now — to have the hotties appear at the rock concert the Prince is helping put together in the garden of Buckingham Place on June 1. As part of his mother Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee, the Prince thought the evening’s entertainment would be a breeze. He’d just ring up some old buddies and thata would be thata. Little did he wot.
The kids kept on and on, entreating their father’s equerries almost daily, but finally it didn’t work. It was felt the concert should somehow be more, well, mature. So, at last count it will be mature Madonna, mature Mick Jagger, mature Aretha Franklin and mature Shirley Bassey (the Prince of Wales’ favorite entertainer) headlining at the palace. Of course, that depends a lot on how you define mature.
More bits and pieces from over there: London is buzzing with the news of the Duchess of York’s new romance, if that’s what you’d care to call the latest development in Duchess Fergie’s love life. The new man is Rupert Beckwith-Smith, 41, a dashing race car driver and the brother of her closest friend, Carolyn Cotterell, who died in 1999. (Carolyn was the godmother of Fergie’s daughter Princess Beatrice, as Fergie is godmother to her friend’s daughter, Poppy Cotterell).
This current romance was supposed to be a secret, but last weekend photographers spotted them having an intimate dinner in Mayfair and that took care of that. The two have been friends for years, but there’s been a warming trend since the duchess broke off — it was the duchess who broke it off, wasn’t it? — her four-year affair with Italian Count Gaddo della Gheradesca, who was nice and rich, if not particularly pretty.
Over here on Fifth Avenue, lovely Lily Safra, dressed in the chic-est of black velvet Saint Laurent suits (one of his last, alas), gave a dinner for Robert Higdon and they all came. And they all came dressed in their best. But nothing or no one can outshine the remarkably beautiful Safra apartment with its glorious paintings and furnishings. This is the dazzling result when a great deal of money meets a great deal of taste. They do not, rest assured, always go hand in hand. “I feel poor,” said one of the richest women in town, looking around longingly.
Robert Higdon, who looks like an Eton schoolboy but isn’t, is the brilliant organizer who handles the Prince of Wales Foundation in Washington, D.C. The thing about dear, sweet, lovable, sharp, doesn’t-miss-a-trick Robert is that he has just tons and tons of friends in high places, and some of them were at Lily’s to tell him just how dear, sweet, lovable, sharp and never-miss-a-trickable he is. They also liked his shirt, tie and pocket handkerchief. Oh, he’s dapper, alright.
To drop a few names — Lord (Jacob) Rothschild was there (he will be one of the honorees at the American Academy in Rome’s dinner on April 8 at Cipriani in New York), as were such glitterites as TV star Diane Sawyer; the author Peggy Noonan; Princess Firyal of Jordan with financier Lionel Pincus; best-dressed Blaine Trump (she wore Badgley Mischka’s amber-beaded pants and wool jacket bordered in amber fox) and Robert Trump; Sherrie Rollins, very pretty and medium pregnant, with her handsome husband, David Westin, the president of ABC News; Astrid and Kip Forbes of the media empire; Mrs. Jacques Nasser; Carroll Petrie in clouds of white fox; Joan Rivers in black organza, black lace and pearls; Deborah Norville and Karl Wellner, and others too scintillating to mention.
Speaking of the American Academy in Rome’s gala dinner, along with Lord (Jacob) Rothschild, others to be honored are the Hon. Corinne C. Boggs, former U. S. ambassador to the Holy See, and J. Carter Brown. Sid and Mercedes Bass are the chairmen of the evening. Lord Rothschild is best known and admired for his acquisition of one of London’s best neo-classical buildings, Spencer House, and for his 10-year program to restore it to its original period. He is also responsible for the restoration and transformation of the magnificent Somerset House.
Corinne Boggs is recognized for her crucial work to preserve the Vieux Carre district of New Orleans as well as for her service on the boards of the National Archives, the U.S. Botanical Garden and the U.S. Capitol Commission.
As for J. Carter Brown, a former director of the National Gallery of Art, he is noted for his roles as chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts in Washington, membership on the Committee for the Preservation of the White House and the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities. He is also a Trustee Emeritus of the American Academy in Rome. That’s a lot of culture, man.