Byline: Aileen Mehle

The Prince of Wales, considered by many the host with the most — just look at the cozy little places he has to entertain in — is off and entertaining again the week of Royal Ascot, June 19-23. It’s all madly exciting because the Prince will be giving a formal dinner at Buckingham Palace and, later in the week, will launch the Summer Ball, a formal dinner dance celebrating the work of his American and British Foundations. What with special entertainment that night and a unique and dramatic setting, the Summer Ball could well be one of the most unforgettable evenings of the season. Already, those guests who have been invited are quite giddy with excitement. The week will begin with a drinks party given by Viscount and Viscountess Linley (David and Serena) at David Linley’s renowned gallery on the Pimlico Road, giving guests a chance to mix and mingle and compare calendars and wardrobes, as well as pace themselves for Royal Ascot — the astonishing hats, strawberries with Devonshire cream and a bit of champagne. Nobody, but nobody, loves champagne the way the Brits do.
About that Summer Ball: His Royal Highness will give it in an historic, turn-of-the-century building in the heart of London’s East End. Just adjacent to his newly completed building in Shoreditch, “The Tramshed,” as it is called, built by London architect Vincent Harris, is a transformer and power-generating station for London’s Tramway System. Quite literally, sparks will fly as the chosen dine and dance at this dramatic venue, and are entertained by a special cabaret show that is being created for the evening.
The Buckingham Palace dinner will be the grand finale. Guests arriving at the Palace will cross the threshold into the Grand Hall and ascend to the Bow Room with its majestic views overlooking the lawn and the formal gardens. After being greeted by the Curator of the Royal Collection, all will proceed up the curving marble Grand Staircase to be transported back to the 18th century, when King George 3rd bought Buckingham House for his wife and 15 children. (After siring 15 children, busy George 3rd should have given little wifie the keys to the kingdom and little wifie should have locked her bedroom door.)
The curator will lead the way through the nine successive reigns of the Royal Family while pointing out the personal additions that set about transforming Buckingham House to the Palace it is today. Then the Prince of Wales will receive in the Blue Drawing Room overlooking the East Terrace, and dinner will be served in the Picture Gallery, where masterpieces painted by Steen, Van Dyck, Frans Hals, Rembrandt, Canaletto, Rubens, Poussin and Vermeer will be on display. After dinner, it’s on to the West Gallery. In this intimate chamber, surrounded by Gobelin tapestries, an artist selected by His Royal Highness will perform. It does sound like fun, I mean, tons of fun.

Sandra Bullock, who went for a ride on a bomb-loaded bus and careened through Caribbean waters in her last two flicks, is back in the fast lane again. She’s starring in Columbia’s “28 Days,” which hits screens in early April. This time it’s Sandra who’s “bombed” and out of control as a liquor-loving barfly who goes on a wild fender-bender when she commandeers her sister’s wedding limousine. That Sandra — what a scamp!

Best-selling culinary writer Rozanne Gold finished her screenplay about a female chef who runs for President of the U.S. It’s called “Hail to the Chef.” Now you know that’s cute. Rozanne would just love to have Annette Bening play the title role. No word from Annette Bening.

Rising young star Penelope Cruz is a sizzling property after making a hit in Pedro Almodovar’s “All About My Mother.” Her next movie, out this summer, is “All The Pretty Horses,” from the marvelous best-selling book by Cormac McCarthy. Opposite her are such as Matt Damon, Henry Thomas and Billy Bob Thornton. In the picture, they all eat beans and tortillas a lot and say andale a lot more. Penelope has also just signed on to play the heroine in a new movie based on another marvelous best-selling novel, “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.” If the pictures are as good as the books — and they’d better be — Penelope has the chance to be in two giant hits.

Lesly Smith, Palm Beach’s good-looking mayor, put on her white silk pants and her white silk tunic and gave a dinner for 30 in her moonlit garden for those newly-weds Pauline Boardman and Bill Pitt. This all happened the night before the wedding, you understand, so everyone was terribly excited, which, in Palm Beach, is a good thing. The Duke and Duchess of Marlborough (Sonny and Rosita to their chums) were there — they have taken an apartment in Palm Beach for the next two months so Rosita can work on her painting — along with Marjorie and Max Fisher, Jackie and Paul Desmarais, Terry Kramer and the celebrated golfer Raymond Floyd and his wife, Maria. Pauline was all smiles, but that’s nothing new. She’s been all smiles since she decided all those months ago that she was going to marry Bill Pitt.

Alicia Silverstone, who co-stars with Kenneth Branagh in his soon-due 1930s Hollywood musical based on a rework of Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour Lost,” says she’s a Bard buff. “He’s my own little private addiction,” she tells the world. “He wrote as he did because that’s how people
talked, and that’s what they understood. Ordinary people then were so much smarter than they are now. We’ve unlearned so much. People are getting dumber and dumber.” Maybe. But, dear Alicia, remember it was Shakespeare who had Hamlet say to Ophelia, “Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever.” Maybe the Bard liked a few of his heroines dumb and dumber. But can you imagine Hamlet’s saying that to Portia or Lady MacBeth? They’d knock his head off and kick his Danish butt.

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