Byline: Aileen Mehle

Rockin’ with the Royals: Princess Martha Louise, King Harald of Norway’s darling daughter, has not scandalized her country and run off to join the circus as Princess Stephanie of Monaco notoriously did — you read here. But she has head-over-heels fallen for one of the most notorious playboys in the land, the best-selling author Ari Behn, whose novel “Total Boredom” is topping the Oslo bestseller lists. Ari, as famous for his affairs with models and young socialites as he is for his books, is introducing Princess Martha Louise as his fiancee and announcing country-wide that she is “the sexiest woman in Norway.” Oh? Has he tried them all?
Martha Louise’s mommy, Queen Sonja, has not exactly given the couple her blessing, but she has read “Total Boredom” and, if you want the truth, she wasn’t too totally bored. All the talk of another royal wedding will have to wait until after August anyhow. That’s when Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon marries his betrothed Mette-Marit Tjessem, a commoner with a baby son. Holy herring! What would Sonja Henie say?

The Pasteur Foundation, the U.S. affiliate of France’s famed Institut Pasteur, celebrated at a grand benefit dinner last night on the Grand Promenade at Avery Fisher Hall — very black tie. But before the swells went to the table, there was a festive concert featuring the symphony of La Garde Republicane in its first American appearance in, mon Dieu, 25 years, performing works by Haydn, Paganini and Tchaikovsky. La Garde, an elite military corps over 150 years old, played in full uniform — and that’s a lot of uniform.
Patrons of the evening were the French Ambassador to the U.S. Francois Bujon de l’Estang and French Consul General Richard Duque. The honorary chairmen were Anne Cox Chambers and Felix Rohatyn. The chairmen were Mrs. Anastassios Fondaras (who said “what a spectacular evening!”), Mr. and Mrs. Georges Hibon, Mr. and Mrs. Guy Wildenstein, and Mr. and Mrs. Donald Zilkha. Vive la spectacular evening.

On April 2, the board of trustees of the American Academy in Rome plus the chairmen of the evening, Mercedes and Sid Bass, the Fort Worth billionaires who support the Academy to the hilt, are inviting lovers of culture to their black tie gala at the Cipriani. The evening will honor David M. Childs, a trustee of the Academy and the chairman of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the architectural shapers of city skylines around the world. Adele Chatfield-Taylor, president of the Academy, will lend her decorative presence and such famous architects as Frank Gehry, Michael Graves and Richard Meier are the toastmasters. Toastmasters at these benefits in the past have sometimes forgotten that brevity is the soul of wit, but not you guys, right?

Speaking of American Friends and things cultural, the American Friends of Blerancourt are planning their dinner at the Pierpont Morgan Library on June 19, when they will award the Blerancourt Prize to William Christie for his contributions to American and French relations. Christie, born in the United States, moved to Paris in 1971 where he has become a dominant figure in the revival of French 17th century music, particularly the operas of Lully, Rameau and Charpentier, which had all but disappeared from the repertory. He received the Legion d’Honneur for his efforts and now holds both American and French citizenships. Anne Cox Chambers (her again), a former American ambassador and one of the richest women in America, is the honorary chairman of the evening and Mrs. John G. Ledes and Miles Morgan are the chairmen. The idea is to raise funds for Blerancourt, the chateau now museum, that once belonged to the mighty heiress Anne Morgan, J.P’s daughter, now well on its way to becoming a definitive showcase of Franco-American history.
Oh, and let’s not forget that before the American Academy in Rome blast, many of the same guests will be stopping by the Knickerbocker Club from 6 to 8 p.m. to help George Trescher, the class act of New York publicists with a clientele and friends to match, celebrate his 75th birthday. Hard to believe but George says it’s true.

By now, you should be awash in culture, but before you come up for the third time, you should know that the board of directors of the American Friends of the Hermitage Museum have sent out invitations to an Imperial Russian Easter party, gala and auction at Tavern on the Green on April 17. The honorary chairman is Christopher “Kip” Forbes of the heavy-into-the-arts clan, and we all know how cultured he is. The chairman is Archduke Geza von Habsburg, the renowned connoisseur and collector. The chairmen are Kathleen Springhorn and Thomas Quick.
The highlight of the auction is the “Duchess of Marlborough” Egg Clock, inspired by Faberge and licensed by the Forbes Collection, encrusted with 300 rose-cut diamonds and hundreds of cultured seed pearls. And that’s only the beginning. A diamond-studded serpent — with a golden tongue emerging from a three-carat pear-shaped white topaz head — curls around the clock to mark off the hours. So beguiling. It’s valued at $30,000, but you could get lucky with your bid. You know who’s really lucky? Any organization anywhere in the world that has American Friends behind it.