I am just back from London, dear ones, where I flew off in a flurry to dine with the Prince of Wales; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Nancy Reagan at Buckingham Palace, because I thought it was such a great idea. And such excitement! Nancy hadn’t been in London since Ronald Reagan first became ill and, as we all know, the Brits adore Nancy. It was to be a big British royal moment, a beautiful evening starring Nancy in a gorgeous setting. Oh, and a big surprise, because hardly anybody even knew that Nancy was in London. Supersecurity and all that. Terrific! Except Nancy Reagan never made it to the big night.
She had just arrived in town the day before and was staying at the Ritz Hotel in London. Probably jet-lagged, the night before the palace party, she fell in her bedroom early in the morning, was taken to the hospital and then dismissed. She managed to drag herself off to see Lady Margaret Thatcher for a moment and visit Charles and Camilla for a private sit-down — the world knows she is a plucky lady. But even though the beautiful white crystal embroidered evening dress she wore with her pearls to the recent party in her honor in Washington was laid out on her bed for her to step into once more, she, plucky or not, was finished. Now she is on a restful cruise with friends on a private yacht in the Mediterranean — Portofino, Saint-Tropez, etc., and is feeling much better.
So the grand dinner, and grand, indeed, it was, went on without Nancy. As for those jubilant newlyweds, the Prince and the Duchess, they were in the finest of fettle. Camilla wore turquoise blue silk and a diamond necklace. For all of you out there, she is so much better looking than her pictures, it’s hard to believe, and she oozed such charm, she may as well have invented it. I told her I thought she looked marvelous at her wedding — hat, legs and all. She said she thought her Philip Treacy hat was great fun and that, for her, it was the most wonderful day all together. I also mentioned to Prince Charles that I thought his bride looked marvelous at the wedding — hat, legs and all. He said, oh yes, he did, too, and that Camilla was the most extraordinary lady in every way.
This story first appeared in the June 22, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
This glamorous gathering for 250 guests was organized by the Prince of Wales Foundation, which has its American headquarters in Washington. Michael Fawcett, the incomparable decorator who plans all of Prince Charles’ parties, covered the long U-shaped table in cranberry crushed velvet, brought out the famous family silver and gold centerpieces and candelabra and ordered thousands of multicolored roses and berries to fill the urns and baskets running down the length of the table.
The hand-painted menus were decorated with an American flag and golden eagle, and the British flag and the Prince of Wales’ three white plumes insignia. The dinner was filet of John Dory with asparagus and black truffles, Welsh lamb with an herb and mustard crust, crispy lamb sausage and port wine sauce and, for dessert, woodland berries with ice cream.
Afterward, there was a splendid concert with dozens of musicians playing tunes from the glory years of MGM musicals (MGM was Nancy’s Hollywood studio) and some of the crowd hummed along to every one of them.
Would you like to know who was there? Well, let’s see — Diane Sawyer in black, smiling overtime at the Prince of Wales as he smiled overtime at her; Michael Caine and his beautiful wife, Shakira, also in black; Lynn Wyatt, the Texas belle in a black-lace Chanel; Evelyn and Leonard Lauder (she wore Oscar de la Renta’s black confection embroidered in silver shooting stars; Leonard sat next to Camilla); a bejeweled Lily Safra in red silk (she sat on the Prince of Wales’ right); Rose Marie Bravo; Hilary and Wilbur Ross; the baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. and his stunning wife, Kelly; Astrid and Kip Forbes; all the Washington Allbrittons — Joe, Barbie, Robert and Elena; Deborah and Karl Wellner; Pauline Pitt; the Wathne sisters — Berge, Soffia and Thorunn; Tom Quick; Betsey Bloomingdale; Joan Rivers; Patty Hearst and Bernard Shaw; Genny and Fred Ryan; Linda Wachner; Erlenne Sprague; Joanne and Roberto de Guardiola; the Brad Martins; Anne Hearst; George Farias, and on and on into the night.
Prince William celebrated his 23rd birthday Tuesday with family and friends, and he graduates cum laude from the University of St. Andrews on Thursday with even better grades than his father received during his years as a student. William, who majored in geography, of all things, will celebrate next week with a 10-day trip to New Zealand, where he will stay on a farm, visit a sacred Maori tribal center and cheer on the British rugby team. Look for pictures of him posing in one of those interesting native hats, because you may be sure someone will ask him to.
It is said that daddy Prince Charles is renovating a manor house on the 900-acre Harewood Park estate that he owns into a residence for William, which would be a perfect love nest if his relationship with his pretty girlfriend, Kate Middleton, remains strong and steady. Happy birthday, Prince Charming, the world is your oyster.
Gale Hayman, the dynamic entrepreneur, Washington and New York social figure and co-creator of Giorgio, the Hollywood perfume that once rocked every room from coast to coast (making a fortune for her along the way), and her husband, the prominent scientist William Haseltine, have decided to end their 14-year marriage and Gale has filed suit for divorce. Unlike the acrimony that can accompany so many of these splits (you did … he did … she did … ), this one is a clean break. Gale and Bill hold each other in the highest regard and say they will always remain friends. He will continue to live in Washington and Gale will live in Manhattan, where she keeps an apartment.