Byline: Aileen Mehle

Up to here with Di, Di, Di? Ready for Cam, Cam, Cam? Well, get ready, because we have far from heard the last of Prince Charles’s inamorata, Camilla Parker Bowles. A Catholic, she is now converting to the Anglican faith and being coached in same. A king of England even considering marrying a Catholic is definitely not the done thing, to put it mildly. Does Charles want, eventually, to marry Camilla? Is the Pope Catholic? Is the Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican? May we expect another annus horribilis? Does the Queen’s Corgi have fleas?

Joan Collins has finished her newie novel, due in May. It’s called “Infamous.” After that Andy Warhol “fifteen minutes of fame” thing, maybe in the coming years everyone will enjoy fifteen minutes of infamy. What do you think? Not that that’s what Joan’s book is about. Very few people have the faintest what Joan’s book is about.

Disgraced futures trader Nick Leeson is reported to be delighted at the idea of Hugh Grant’s playing him in a movie about the collapse of once-exalted British institution Barings Bank. Of course the ending is up in the air, because they’re still waiting to whomp the cheating Leeson in Singapore, where whomping is an art form. The role of Leeson’s loyal wife Lisa has such as Miranda Richardson, Jennifer Ehle and Helena Bonham-Carter vying for the part. As for Grant, he is said to be at his “most adorable” in “Sense and Sensibility,” playing Emma Thompson’s very special lover. Oh, poo.

As an Infanta of Spain, the royal blood of Dona Pilar de Borbon, Duchess of Badajoz, runs indigo blue. Just as blue as the becoming evening suit she wore to the Spanish Institute’s Gold Medal Gala in the Plaza’s Ballroom was redredredredred and bought not in Paris or Milan but in a dress shop in Barcelona called Tot-Homme, whatever that means. Dona Pilar, the honorary chairman of this year’s Spanish gala, downplays her many talents and achievements, but mira, mira she does muchisimo! There are her official duties as sister of King Juan Carlos of Spain, her philanthropies, her service on myriad cultural boards and her work as a nurse before she married the late Duke of Badajoz. When she’s not riding a horse, she speaks six languages — or maybe that’s the other way around. Whatever, she is una maravilla and then some.
When she gave her little speech at the gala, she graciously remembered the late Angier Biddle Duke, who was once our ambassador to Spain, and the late Jerry Zipkin, a member of the Institute’s board. Then she hung gold medals on John McGillicuddy, the banker’s banker, and Spain’s distinguished lawyer Ignacio Gomez-Acebo for their feats in fostering relations between Spain and the United States. Much applause.
Crowding the ballroom filled with yellow roses, orchids and mimosa were such as Inmaculada de Habsburgo-Lorena, the president of the Spanish Institute, in strapless black velvet and an antique jeweled butterfly pendant, a family heirloom she treasures, the Institute’s chairman Dr. Fernando Aleu and his wife Jennie in a blue Carolina Herrera, Dr. Felix de Pinies and his wife Carmen, an invaluable pillar of the Spanish Institute, in a sleek black dress by the young German designer Yella-Saad, Mrs. John (Constance) McGillicuddy, Isabel Gomez-Acebo, Joy and Senen Ubina, the Spanish abstract artist who currently has an exhibition at the Institute, Spanish Consul General Ambassador Allendesalazar and Mrs. Allendesalazar, the Spanish Ambassador to the United Nations and Mrs. Juan Antonio Yanez-Barnuevo, Ambassador Julio Marios Santo Domingo and Beatrice Santo Domingo in a long black velvet Armani, Ambassador Jaime de Pinies, Placido Arango, Mrs. Angier Biddle (Robin) Duke in black silk and chiffon, Jaime Gomez-Acebo, Reinaldo Herrera, Catie and Donald Marron, Dreeda Mehle fresh in from Paris, Patricia Patterson, Lee Thaw, Margaretha and Eric Javits, Antonia and Marco Antonio Garcia, Chemical Bank chairman and ceo Walter Shipley, John Brademas, three of Dona Pilar’s children, pretty daughter Simoneta Sastron and sons Juan and Bruno plus others too fabulosos to mention.

Meanwhile, over at the Carlyle Hotel, Alexander Papamarkou was hosting a private dinner party for presidential hopeful Steve Forbes and 149 others. It was not, repeat not, a fund raiser, rather a gathering of those who admire Steve himself and the things he stands for. Almost all the Forbeses were there, including Steve’s wife Sabina, and such exalted others as Nancy Reagan in a black satin Oscar de la Renta suit, her daughter Patty, the Shahbanou of Iran, tycoon Rupert Murdoch and his lovely wife Anna, Carroll Petrie, Veronica and Randolph Hearst, Christopher Kennan, Dr. Paul Marks and Mrs. Marks, Lauren and John Veronis, Blaine and Robert Trump, Allison and Leonard Stern, Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis, Mort Zuckerman, Christopher Getty, Laura Mentzelopoulos, Marina Palma, Elli Antoniades, Helen Gurley Brown and David Brown, Gustavo Cisneros, Norma and Charles Dana, Francesco Galesi, Ambassador Joseph Reed, Prince and Princess Alexander Romanoff, Dr. Leon Root, Ambassador and Mrs. Ahmed Snoussi, Doda Vorides and others too conservative and flat tax to mention.

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