Byline: Aileen Mehle
Prince William may be a beauty, but Prince Harry’s the cutie. He and his daddy, the Prince of Wales, rode like the wind together, mallets flying, knocking balls all over the place at the Burberry & Chopard Challenge Cup at Cirencester Park, where polo is god. William, casually leaning against his car like a model in an ad, watched his father and little brother from across the field where he himself couldn’t be watched. It was Harry’s day. And if he isn’t the royal family’s personality kid, they don’t have one, do they? It’s easy to fall in love with him, on and off a horse. The ladies all said so. As part of the Highgrove team, he wore scarlet and blue. Perfect with that mop of red hair, no?
The crowd there for lunch and the game had, for the most part, driven over from the Manor House, a beautiful 14th-century inn with all comforts in the fairy-tale village of Castle Combe in Wiltshire, where they had spent the night after the fantastic fanfare of the Highgrove gala given by the Prince of Wales at his country estate. You will be thrilled to hear that many of the ladies viewed the game wearing hats even under the huge striped parasols. So maybe it wasn’t so much to ward off the sun as to be seen doing the right thing. Ascot’s not the only game in town, you know. Blaine Trump, for one, wore a beige straw hat with a garden of flowers on it. And then there were all those people running around in Burberry plaid caps, provided by Rose Marie Bravo, the big boss at Burberry, which along with Chopard sponsored the match. Many in the crowd were Americans who had come over to support the Prince of Wales Foundation with headquarters in Washington, D.C. As part of their trip, they not only got to meet the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace and Highgrove but got to see the utterly charming Camilla Parker Bowles. Twice. How about them apples.
Meanwhile, back in London, if you wanted to see the swells — every last one of them — the place to be was at the drinks party given by media giant Conrad Black and his alluring wife, Barbara, a beauty with brains. Everyone in London was there, a mob, from Lady Thatcher to Drue Heinz to Peter Mandelson to Cosima von Bulow Pavoncelli plus a lot of those New Yorkers you know and try to love. To part the waters getting in and out, elbow-jabbing was the only way. “It’s always a zoo,” said Barbara with a big smile. Lady Thatcher, you will be pleased to hear, emerged from the fray intact. But then, she’s had a lot of practice.
All across the city there were chic and stunning private dinner parties given by Lily Safra, who lives in perhaps the most beautiful house in all of London with a swimming pool on the ground floor surrounded by what looks like the Garden of Eden; by Lita and George Livanos, whose hot meal in their exquisite house in Hill Street drew such guests as Princess Michael of Kent, Sid and Mercedes Bass, the George Weidenfelds and Lynn Forester Rothschild, and the dinner for Mila and Brian Mulroney of the Canadian Mulroneys hosted by Sally and David Metcalfe. If you wish to rub elbows with diplomats, politicians, tycoons and plain and fancy socialites, the Metcalfes’ charming, cozy, very English house (Sally is a noted interior decorator) is the place to be. Best of all was a tiny dinner at Mark’s given by Viscount Linley and his beautiful wife, Serena, who, after the pudding, clapped on their helmets and tooted on off into the night on David Linley’s motorcycle. This is not for the faint of heart, especially in London traffic, but it was the police who taught and trained Linley how to ride a bike, and his friends say he’s an ace.
Mrs. Kendall Wheeler of Chevy Chase, Md., and West Glacier, Mont., has announced the engagement of her daughter, Robin van Orman, to Norbert Azqueta Jr., the son of Mr. and Mrs. Norberto Azqueta of Palm Beach and Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic. They will marry at St. Catherine’s Parish in Bigfoot, Mont., with a reception following at the historic Conrad Mansion in nearby Kalispell. The wedding will unite two well-known families. Robin is the great-granddaughter of the late Sen. Burton Wheeler, a distinguished lawmaker. The bride’s grandfather, Edward Wheeler, a Washington attorney, recently married his childhood sweetheart, Ruth Hale Buchanan of Newport and Washington, the widow of Ambassador Wiley Buchanan, a Republican powerhouse.
The bridegroom is a member of prominent Cuban families. His maternal grandparents, Alfonso and Lillian Fanjul, and his paternal grandparents, Jesus and Juana Azqueta, were warp and woof of Cuban society pre-Castro and noted philanthropists. Both families left Cuba in 1959 after the revolution and established residences in Palm Beach. And that’s where Robin, who received her Bachelor of Arts from Middlebury College and a Masters at the American Graduate School of International Management, and Norberto, who received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Miami and a Masters from Georgetown, will live after the honeymoon. Blissfully riding together. Horses. She’s great on one, and he’s a champ on a polo pony. Cheers.
Placido Domingo, as the artistic director of the Washington Opera, has turned the nation’s capital into an opera world capital, attracting talent and money, and what’s better than that? His close friend, the billionaire Alberto Vilar, an amazingly generous philanthropist who has given multimillions to the Washington Opera, is the honorary chairman of its opening night gala on Sept. 8 and the sponsor of the entire evening.
Marta (Mrs. Placido) Domingo, an accomplished artist herself, will direct Offenbach’s “Tales of Hoffman” with a cast of stars including Richard Leech, Sumi Jo and the alluring Denyce Graves playing a man in the trouser role. Ooooooooooo! Oh, and working behind the scenes to make this gala benefit exciting and glamorous is Lucky Roosevelt, who seems to have her finger in every Washington cultural and social pie.
The President and Mrs. Bush are the patrons of the evening and expected to attend are the Secretary of Defense and Mrs. Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Mrs. Martinez and the Secretary of Energy and Mrs. Abraham. The French Ambassador and Mme. Francois Bujon de l’Estang are kindly helping to give l’affaire a certain je ne sais quoi. You’ll find out just how quoi when you get there.