Byline: Aileen Mehle
The story of the Spanish crown prince and the Norwegian model is heating up, and you can thank the stars — and Europeans who dote on royal romances — for that.
As you read here, the tall handsome Prince of Asturias, Don Felipe de Borbon, met the stunning statuesque blonde Norwegian commoner Eva Sannum at a private party in Madrid about four years ago. She was 22 and he was 29. The next year on his 30th birthday, Felipe announced to his country that he would marry for love in spite of an 18th-century law stating the heir to the throne must marry royalty.
Eva and Felipe continued to see each other all over the world — the Taj Mahal in India, sailing at Sotogrande off the southern coast of Spain, skiing in Norway and St. Mortiz and frolicking in the Caribbean. The European tabloids went wild, a field day of field days and why not?
I mean: She was a lingerie model. Her parents are divorced. Her mother remarried a Greek taxi-driver. Her father owned a shop that painted automobiles. Maybe he still does.
I mean: The prince, small wonder, is catnip to women with over a dozen publicized conquests behind him including Carolina de Borbon, the niece of Queen Beatrix of Holland; Gabriella Sebastian, the daughter of the Spanish ambassador to Germany, and Gigi Howard, a fetching American. But silly little things like that didn’t bother the lovers nor are they getting in their way.
I mean: Eva has quit modeling after 11 years on the runway. She is taking lessons in Catholicism at the church of St. Olaf in Oslo. She is even, Dios mio, driving a Spanish-made automobile.
I mean: Felipe has convinced his parents, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, to officially acknowledge their “relationship” exists. And last, but surely not least, Eva was Felipe’s date at the royal wedding in Norway this summer of Prince Haakon and another commoner, Mette-Marit, Eva in a gown so blue that one couldn’t help but notice it was practically the color of the blood she was aspiring to.
I mean: Buena suerte and all that sort of thing.
She says a promise is a promise. And if she doesn’t mean it, what’s she doing in Hong Kong today? Denise Hale, the San Francisco social figure and personality kid, is on the first lap of a brave trip to Bombay, flying the skies when a lot of people would rather suck eggs. It seems she promised her old pal Zubin Mehta that she would be there with bells and beads on when he conducts three concerts with the Israeli Philharmonic in the city of his birth beginning on Friday.
She made plans for the trip long ago, and the disasters that happened since didn’t change her mind. She’ll spend five days in India with Zubin and his wife, Nancy, ending in Agra, where they’ll see the Taj Mahal at sunrise. On her way home, she’ll stop in Bangkok at the Oriental Hotel where she can be found recovering in its famous spa. “All my friends are mad at me and think I’m crazy for doing this,” she says, “but Zubin and Nancy say they wouldn’t have me come if they were worried about safety.” She said they crossed their hearts. Well, dearie, better you than me.
On Oct. 22, Bobby Short, the wonderful singer/pianist who makes you laugh, cry and cry for more, will receive the the Society of Singers First Annual Louis Armstrong Award “given in recognition of a performer’s commitment to the art of entertainment.” It will happen at the Pierre Hotel, black tie of course, with cocktails, dinner and a show. Brooke Astor is the honorary chairwoman of the evening and the co-chairs include such as Jean Bach, George and Joyce Wein, Sherry Bronfman, Margie and Jerry Perenchio, Susan Fales-Hill, Lisa and David Schiff, Mica and Ahmet Ertegun, Mary Sharp Cronson and Lenny Kravitz. About that show — Mercedes Ellington will produce and direct it, Diahann Carroll will host and among the showfolk celebrating Bobby will be Julie Wilson, Leslie Uggams, Joey Bushkin, Barbara Carroll, Chita Rivera, Billy Stritch, Andre de Shields, Lee Roy Rams, Donald Saddler, John Henricks, and Clark Terry.
Muffie Potter Aston and Mary Davidson, co-chairs of this year’s Society of Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center preview party of the International Fine Arts and Antique Dealers Show set for Oct. 18, are announcing the event has been canceled. They know full well that the National Guard has more pressing needs now for the show’s setting, the Park Avenue Armory, than they do. More than 70 dealers from all over the world were prepared to show their wares, precious art, furniture and jewelry at the preview, one of the most important social draws of the fall season, but, happily, many of the patrons, supporters of cancer care, have told the Society to keep the $700,000 they spent for tickets. Muffie and Mary will be back next year.
Today, Fred Leighton, one of the great estate and antiques jewelers of the world, will open an exhibition and sale of antique crosses at his Madison Avenue emporium. Everything from a demure silver Georgian cross with rose-cut diamonds to a pair of regal 19th century sapphire and emerald crosses with diamonds will be on display and ready to buy from now until Oct. 17.
Fred Leighton collectible jewels blaze from the bosoms — and the ears and the necks and the fingers and the wrists — of some of the most celebrated women, social, theatrical and otherwise. Some they own; some they borrow, as witness the Academy Awards. But the important thing about all this is that part of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to help support New York relief efforts.