There is a saying, handed down through the ages, that all brides are beautiful. Maybe. But surely some are more beautiful than others. And, surely, one of the most beautiful was Marie-Chantal Miller, fair-haired and fine-boned, exquisite as a Florentine bella of the Quattrocento, who on July 1 in London glided down the aisle of the sumptuous Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Aghia Sophia to become a Royal Highness.
Dressed in shimmering white satin of surpassing elegance with a tulle headdress held in place by a blazing diamond tiara (was it "something borrowed" from the Queen of Denmark?) and trailing an endless tulle veil embroidered with appliqued flowers and butterflies of fine lace, Marie-Chantal was the stuff of dreams. It is just as well that her father, Robert Warren Miller, master of all the duty free shops he surveys, is a billionaire. It took the House of Valentino two months to make the veil alone.
Waiting for this vision at the altar was the handsome bridegroom, Crown Prince Pavlos, the eldest son of King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece. Ah, romance. What is so rare as a royal true-love match between two beautiful young people who adore each other? It's almost enough to erase depressing memories of those turn-of-the-century mesalliances wherein great American heiresses, trembling and reluctant, pushed by madly ambitious mothers, were offered up as sacrifices to horrid, penniless noblemen for the sake of a title. With Marie-Chantal and Pavlos it is all hearts and flowers.
To enable everyone to see the dramatic ceremony no matter where they sat, television monitors were placed throughout the church. Nothing was left to chance. After all, because of its singularly glamorous ingredients, this had been proclaimed the wedding of the century--one excludes the Westminster Abbey ceremonies uniting the now estranged Prince and Princess of Wales and the separated Duke and Duchess of York-- generating giddy excitement in New York, where the bride's parents live part of the year, and in Europe, especially among the royal families, almost all related to the bridegroom. Great crowds gathered outside the Cathedral to cheer the bride and groom as they drove up in separate silver limousines, and to watch the passing parade of heads, crowned and uncrowned, arriving in their finery. Because Queen Elizabeth was a wedding guest, the tightest security was maintained. Only the wedding party and the royals were allowed to come to the church in private cars. Other guests, the men, full fig in morning clothes with the requisite spats and pearl-gray toppers, the women in fancy frocks and fancier hats, were collected at Claridges before the morning ceremony and driven to the wedding in private coaches laid on by the bride's parents.
The opulent 300-seat cathedral, with its magnificently decorated altar and intricately carved pews, was garlanded inside and out with masses of pink and white roses perfuming the air. Ushering the guests and standing in attendance in smart black uniforms trimmed in gold were members of the Royal Scot Dragoon Guards, Prince Pavlos's regiment for 2 1/2 years when he took his military training in England before attending Georgetown University in Washington. Clad in rich robes and wearing crowns, the Metropolitan of Halkidon, the Patriarch of Antioch and a half-dozen other church dignitaries officiated, observing the Russian marriage ritual adopted by the Greek royal family, while a heavenly, though human, choir sang from the balcony. The bride had no attendants, save for the three tiny flower girls, dressed by Valentino in baby blue, whose job it was to guard and guide Marie Chantal's never-ending veil. You will be glad to hear that nothing ripped.
The groom had eight best men, and, splendid in morning dress, they were maybe the best-looking best men in the world. If ever there was a time when blood and breeding told, it was when the eight approached the altar, standing behind the bride and groom and taking turns holding golden crowns over their heads as is the ritual. Among them were the groom's dashing younger brother Prince Nicholas of Greece, Crown Prince Felipe of Spain, Crown Prince Jean of Luxembourg, Prince of The Netherlands Willem Alexander of Orange, Crown Prince Kardam of Bulgaria, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, Christopher Getty, who is married to Marie-Chantal's also-beautiful older sister Pia, and Alexander von Furstenberg, who is marrying Marie-Chantal's also-beautiful younger sister Alexandra in Venice in October.
Sitting in the front row immediately behind the altar was this amazing lineup: Queen Elizabeth in a print dress, a hyacinth coat and matching hyacinth hat worn with low-heeled white shoes and a white Queen Elizabeth-style handbag; Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; the Prince of Wales, the Royal Dukes of Gloucester and Kent and their duchesses; King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan in a big white hat deep enough to almost cover her pretty face and King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden. Directly behind them was the stunning Shahbanou of Iran who came to London for the wedding with her two sons, Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi and Prince Ali Reza, her two daughters, Farahnaz and Leila, and Prince Reza's wife, Yasmine.
Seated in the front row on the groom's side of the altar were King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece and King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia of Spain (she is Constantine's sister). In the front row of the bride's side were the bride's father and her chic mother Chantal Miller, dressed by John Galliano, along with Prince Egon von Furstenberg, who will soon become a member of the family when his son Alexander marries Alexandra Miller. Nearby in the same row sat the same Alexandra Miller, dressed in pale blue, and sister Pia Miller Getty in a wine-colored dress and a saucy matching hat.
Highly visible in the crowd--a royal is a royal is a royal--were King Michael and Queen Anne of Romania; Prince Michael and Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark; Crown Prince Vittorio Emmanuel and Princess Marina di Savoia; the Spanish Infantas Elena and Cristina; Princess Maria Gabriella di Savoia; Princess Alexandra and Angus Ogilvy; Prince Kubrat of Bulgaria; Princess Alexia of Greece; Karim Aga Khan; Prince Ernst August and Princess Chantal of Hanover; Queen Margrethe of Denmark and her sister Princess Benedikte and their mother Queen Ingrid; Barbara and Alexander of Yugoslavia; the former Secretary General of the United Nations Javier Perez de Cuellar and his wife, Marcela, in dark blue chiffon and a white hat trimmed in more dark blue chiffon; Ann and Gordon Getty; such golden Greeks as Lita and George Livanos; Marietta and Alex Goulandris; Karen and Peter John Goulandris; Sophie and George Coumantaros and Caroline and Bluey Mavroleon; Diane Von Furstenberg, in a white slip under a green and white striped coat by Geoffrey Beene; Donatella Flick (she is the bride's godmother); Veronica and Randolph Hearst (she wore a mauve Chanel suit and a black Karl Lagerfeld hat dripping feathers); the Prince and Princess of Liechtenstein; Sen. Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, who attended the wedding of King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie in this same church 31 years ago, and Astrid and Kip Forbes.
Then there were Princess Ira von Furstenberg in a lavender suit; her sister-in-law Princess Egon (Lynn) von Furstenberg; Cecile and Ezra Zilkha (she wore a white silk suit dotted in black and the best hat in the room, a Jean Barthet black pillbox with a big white organza bow); Betsy Bloomingdale in beige chiffon and a white straw hat with a white, dotted veil; Carroll Petrie in a blue-gray e la Fortuny dress designed by Mary McFadden with jeweled cuffs and a white straw hat with matching flowers; Barry Diller; Tatiana von Furstenberg in pink with a pink flower in her auburn curls; the billionaire Michael Kadoories of Hong Kong and Shanghai; Giancarlo Giammetti, and a thrilled Valentino, admiring his handiwork--along with everybody else there.
Greatly missed by both families was Alexander Papamarkou of New York, who was kept away by his recent surgery and his mother's illness. Papamarkou is Marie-Chantal's godfather and a great friend of all the Greek Royals. He was as instrumental in this marriage, bringing Marie-Chantal and Pavlos together, as any matchmaker you would ever want to meet.
The bride and groom left the church as thousands of pink and white rose petals drifted from the ceiling. The waiting crowd roared. Queen Elizabeth emerged to a round of applause and cheers. Limousines and coaches appeared to whisk the guests to the magnificent wedding breakfast at Hampton Court Palace an hour away, where 500 or more guests, who had watched the wedding there on TV monitors, awaited them. You all remember Hampton Court. That's where Henry VIII idled away the hours dreaming about beheadings and such until the dampness drove him hence. The Millers could have taught old Henry a trick or two, certainly how to warm up a place. Of course, maybe he didn't have their money--and certainly not their taste. But more of all this in Friday's column plus what happened at the grandest of grand balls Chantal and Robert Miller gave for Marie-Chantal and Pavlos two nights before the wedding. I could write a book.

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