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That beauty of beauties, Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan, will be an honored guest at the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Awards Dinner at the Waldorf’s Grand Ballroom tonight. Rania’s looks have been celebrated on several continents, so the crowd in the ballroom tonight will know where to look. But the Queen is more than just another pretty face. She is an inveterate doer of good works, who shows her love for her people in many ways, one of the reasons she is loved back.
The dinner itself is in honor of President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, the recipient of the 2002 Freedom Award. You will remember that along with his good works, the President won his 15 minutes of fashion fame in this country for his stylish attire and the little gray cap he always wears with such flair.
The IRC evening will have something for everyone. Tom Brokaw is the master of ceremonies and there will be a dialogue featuring Sen. Sam Brownback and Sen. Edward Kennedy. The chairmen of the evening are Princess Firyal of Jordan and New York financier Lionel Pincus. Glamour, glitter.
Speaking of beauties, when Patricia Herrera, the daughter of Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera, marries Garrit Lansing on Nov. 23, the gents are being asked to wear white tie because that’s the way Patricia and Garrit want it. The entire wedding party will hew to that line, you may be sure.
For those guests complaining, “I have no white tie” or “I gave mine away years ago,” or even “mine doesn’t fit anymore,” well, you can always rent one. Not that you’ll be turned away at the door of St. Ignatius Loyola if you turn up in black tie, you definitely won’t be. But just remember all the young men will be in white tie.
While ugly, sick-making scandals swirl and eddy in London about the British Royal Family; while Paul Burrell, Princess Di’s butler, is looking less and less like her “rock” and more and more like what crawled out from under it; while Di in death is revealed as the poster girl for hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, the Royal Family strives to keep its stiff upper lip even stiffer and to go about business as usual.
As you read here, Queen Elizabeth is having a party tonight at the Ritz to thank friends and family for making her Golden Jubilee such a great success, as well as to celebrate the 54th birthday of her son Prince Charles.
The party was to have been an intimate affair for 100 but now the guest list has more than doubled. The Ritz has just completed a $40 million restoration and is looking spiffy. So it’s no surprise the party is being held there. All its public spaces will be closed for the big night, and the hotel guests will use the Arlington Street entrance.
The Queen and her party will enter through the rarely used double doors at 150 Piccadilly, which will be especially lit and opened for the party. Her Majesty will walk through the pink orchid-festooned Long Gallery, the elegant and architectural corridor leading directly into the Ritz restaurant and the adjoining Marie Antoinette Suite, where drinks will be served. Beyond the restaurant, the Terrace and the Italian Garden have been outfitted with two white-peaked interlocking pavilions and laid with a custom-made pearl gray carpet. There will be music and a buffet served by 50 formally liveried captains and waiters until 11 p.m.
This glamorous space will be lit with candelabras and tapered candles and filled with lilies, orchids and amaryllis. The pavilions, outlined in green latticework and backed by mirrors to reflect the candlelight, will be dotted with topiaries and surrounded with boxwood hedges.
The guest list is practically a state secret, but among those expected to lift a glass of champagne to the Queen and Prince Charles will be the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, and their children, Anne, the Princess Royal with her children, Peter and Zara Philips; the Duke of York with his children, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice (no Fergie), and Edward and Sophie, Earl and Countess of Wessex. The Princes William and Harry will be there, as well as Charles’ constant companion, Camilla Parker Bowles; Princess Margaret’s children Viscount Linley with his wife, Serena, and Lady Sarah Chatto with her husband, Daniel Chatto, and such friends as King Constantine of Greece, his wife, Queen Anne Marie, and their sons Crown Prince Pavlos with his wife, Marie-Chantal, and Prince Nicholas. Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife, Cheri, are also thought to be coming, two more reasons that there will always be an England.
Over in Scotland, they have been enjoying a glorious spell of sunny weather that has brought back one of its favorite sons, Ewan McGregor of “Star Wars” and “Moulin Rouge.” He treated his wife, Eve Mavrakis, and his parents, James and Carol McGregor, to Sunday lunch recently at Glen Eagles, the renowned resort hotel that some consider Scotland’s finest. Ewan was born down the street in Perthshire and gets home to see the family regularly. He’s a good boy.
Captain Mark Phillips, who was once married to Anne, the Princess Royal, for 18 years, arrived at Gleneagles last weekend to check on its equestrian center that he founded in 1998. He now teaches guests how to stay in their saddles while taking both the high and the low jumps. Gleneagles also has Britain’s biggest shooting school, run by Jackie Stewart, the famous race car driver who is a crack shot as well. Sean Connery, Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg have all enjoyed a day of shooting clay pigeons with Jackie. Down the road a bit is Inverlochy Castle where Mel Gibson stayed while he was filming “Braveheart.” The actor James Ginty checked into the King’s suite at Inverlochy, named after the late King Hussein, who once visited with Queen Noor for a week of trekking along the glens and lochs.
James is returning to New York in time to escort Lydia Hearst-Shaw, William Randolph Hearst’s great-granddaughter, to her debut at the Infirmary Ball at the Waldorf on Dec. 21. There are 500 acres of pristine and natural beauty at Inverlochy and the 17-room castle is on the market for $7.5 million. Madonna is said to be interested but they say she’s interested in Buckingham Palace, too.