Byline: Aileen Mehle

Flash! So now it’s official. The Aga Khan, 57, terminally rich, leader of 15 million Ismaili Muslims, is divorcing his beautiful British-born wife Sally, 54, also known as the Princess Salima, after 25 years of wedded bliss and very-far-from-bliss. You read here months ago that this was going to happen. The marriage has been rocky for years, primarily because the Aga Khan, first name Karim, known to the gilded international set simply as K, did exactly as he pleased, whenever he pleased. The Aga’s world is a man’s world, and the plan is to keep it that way.
But that’s not really the Flash! The Aga, after announcing he is seeking the divorce, further made it clear that to avoid more publicity about what goes on in his private life, no more statements would be issued. Does he really think that’s going to stop the gossip? When a highly visible man such as he makes this kind of move after long years of a marriage played out in the world’s exalted financial and social circles, who in the world doesn’t want to know why? Nine times out of 10 it boils down to that same old truism, Cherchez la femme.
Here’s the real Flash! Those in the know are certain Karim is splitting with Sal because he is in love with Ariane Soldati, a good-looking, rich Egyptian widow in her 50s, and wants to marry her. Ariane, married to the late Argentine millionaire Francisco Soldati and the mother of several children, lived with her husband in Buenos Aires all during her marriage until Soldati was killed in a polo accident about two years ago. Since then, she and Karim have been seen together constantly. But one can scarcely call it love at first sight. They have known each other since they both went to school in Switzerland. Some say she wanted to marry Karim then. More than 35 years later, it looks like she’s going to get her wish.

Speaking of troubled relationships, let us now turn once more to the Prince and Princess of Wales, who each day give us all the more reason to call their ridiculous carryings-on The Chuck and Di Show. When she married Charles, Diana may have picked a lemon in the garden of love — but so did he. We know all about him and his sins, but every day she looks ditsier and dumber and out of control. Granted that the cad and bounder who betrayed his five-year fling with Di in a book — for the filthiest of lucre — should be shot through the heart and then run over three times. But what in the devil was she thinking of, rolling in the hay with some slob who should have been feeding it to the horses? This on top of her telephone calls all hours of the day and night to the very married British art dealer Oliver Hoare, denied by but traced to her? Listen, Chuck and Di both need help. And lesson number one should be How Not To Self-Destruct.
Meanwhile, the word is out that Di will be visiting the U.S. this month, and that Kay Graham of the Washington Post Grahams will be giving a dinner for the princess at her Georgetown house on Oct. 21. Maybe Di thinks it’s friendlier here. If she’s thinking of brushing British soil from her feet, she can always settle down in Washington. Pam Harriman’s house is for sale.

MGM is anything but speechless about “Speechless,” its romantic comedy starring Geena Davis and Michael Keaton, due out at Christmas. You’ve read dozens of times that the movie about two political speech writers who work for opposing candidates is patterned after Mary Matalin and James Carville, but what you haven’t heard about is the terrific chemistry between Geena and Michael on camera. I’ll believe it if you will.

The word is hot that hot Liam Neeson is being set to play Oscar Wilde in the new biopic with that other adorable flavor of the month, Hugh Grant, cast as Lord Alfred Douglas. Just your average combination made in heaven — and who cares about the women in the cast?

Herewith, a pithy quote from Colin Firth, the British star of “The Advocate”: “Falling in love is an egotistical process of two people who revel in being adored, but then realize they’re just two ordinary people trying to get on together.” Hear, hear and — huh? Colin says it was mostly his immaturity and selfishness that caused the breakup of his five-year relationship with Meg Tilly, the same Meg Tilly whose new movie is “Sleep With Me.”

Perhaps Colin should ask the Chilean photographer Patricio Castillo for a little advice. He and Geraldine Chaplin have just celebrated 15 years together. Of course Geraldine’s late father, Charlie Chaplin, and her late mother, Oona, stayed together forever — which was what it seemed like until Charlie died. So Geraldine learned at her mother’s knee what it’s like to get along with men, difficult and otherwise. Otherwise?

If you weren’t at the Fete de Famille, the famous annual block party at Mortimer’s to benefit The AIDS Care Center at New York Hospital, here’s a sample of who was: Claus von Bulow, bearded like the pard; John Richardson, bearded like the pard; Ahmet Ertegun, bearded like the pard, with his wife Mica in something smart and black; Louise Grunwald; Lisa and David Schiff; Bobby Short; Isabel and Freddy Eberstadt; Senga and John Jay Mortimer; Alice Mason; Nancy and Henry Kissinger; Annette de la Renta in a beautiful sky blue coat with jet paillette-trimmed fastenings; Tug Barton; Sharman Douglas; Anne Slater in a black sequin coat; Blaine and Robert Trump; Carolyne Roehm; Duane and Mark Hampton and their daughters, Kate and Alexa; Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera; Judy and Sam Peabody with their daughter Elizabeth; Alexandra Theodoracopulos; Lionel Larner; Carroll O’Connor; Lee Thaw; Casey and Abe Ribicoff; Pat Buckley; Bill Blass; Carol Price; Chessy Rayner; Johnny Galliher; Kitty Carlisle Hart; Gene Hovis; Gale Hayman; Linda Wachner; Barbara Walters; Kenneth Jay Lane; Freddy Melhado; Lee Thaw; Judy Ney; Judy Green; Brooke and Peter Duchin; Michael Thomas; Camilla Chandon; CZ Guest; Roz Jacobs; Jamee and Peter Gregory; Ann and Herb Siegel; Mario Buatta; Virginia Coleman; Kay Meehan; Sam Green; Julio Mario Santo Domingo; Eleanor Lambert; Kitty D’Alessio and last, but never least, the sainted Dr. David Skinner, president of New York Hospital. A rousing good time was had by all and Glenn Bernbaum, Mortimer’s owner, thought it was the best of all nine Fete de Famille parties. But then he would, wouldn’t he?