Byline: Aileen Mehle

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Prince William, turning 18 in June, has gone positively dotty over polo — a chip off the old block? After making a smashing success as an Eton cadet, winning the rank of lance corporal and the coveted Sword of Honor as the most promising cadet in the school, William has resigned from the regiment to play on the polo team full time. His first game was against the Royal Navy team, and by the second game against Radley College, he was made captain of his team. His daddy, the Prince of Wales, has had second thoughts about the whole polo idea, especially when his beautiful son, who would be perfect if they’d just put a brace or even a teeny-tiny retainer on his top four front teeth, is thinking of taking time off from Eton to play polo in Argentina. But William has assured him and his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, that, really, it’s a military career he wants ultimately. What a big load off all our shoulders!
One can understand Prince Charles’s misgivings about William on a polo pony. Years of horseback riding have hurt Charles’s back, and he is in such pain he cannot sit for more than an hour without his lumbar support, a small thermo-sensitive isotonic cushion shaped to his spine that he carries everywhere. Just recently, patrons of a London theater had to wait outside for several minutes until Charles put that little cushion just where he wanted it. He also has difficulty bending over and was often seen lying flat on his back stripped to the waist after polo matches. On his recent trip to Mount Athos in Greece, he slept in a small cell on a steel-framed bed with a foam mattress. The next morning, he wished he hadn’t. I just knew you had to know.

More sports news from all over: When Prince Rainier was presiding over the Master Series tennis matches in Monte Carlo with his 12-year old grandson, Prince Pierre, Caroline’s son nearby, Rainier was so involved in the match that unlucky Pierre and a pal thought they could sneak a smoke. But old grandad smelled the fumes, turned around in his box, saw the cigarette, snatched it from Pierre’s hands and gave him a sharp scolding. Rainier might love being a grandfather, but his operation for suspected lung cancer has made him anything but amenable to kids smoking cigarettes. As for mummy Princess Caroline, she and her husband, Prince Ernst August of Hanover, will be in New York in October to attend the Princess Grace Awards gala. It will mark one of the very first public appearances of the loving couple in the United States since their marriage.

To Russia With Love: Mary McFadden, a woman of many parts, will show her latest couture collection in one of the world’s most opulent venues, the Summer Palace of Catherine the Great in St. Petersburg. Mary, whose previous collections have been inspired by her knowledge of classical Greece, Russia, Africa and the Middle East, has always said her favorite thing to design is a wedding dress. Well, now she has her golden opportunity. She’ll design her niece Lisa’s wedding gown when the daughter of Topsy Tailor and Mary’s brother, George McFadden, marries George Melas at St. Bartholomew’s Church with the reception following that evening at the Bronx Botanical Garden. Of course the design is top secret. Even the National Security Council doesn’t know, ha! Family members will also wear McFadden dresses. The mother of the bride is expected to look a dream in mauve lace, hand-painted in a lotus design. Actually, the entire color scheme of the reception is pale lilac, and the grand tent has been dyed that color! These people will stop at nothing to give Lisa a gorgeous send-off on her big day!
But back to Russia… The famed conductor Valery Gergiev will cohost Mary’s fashion event on May 29 during the summer’s Strauss Weekend to benefit the historical Marinsky theater. Traveling with Mary will be Phyllis Washington, the wife of Dennis Washington, one of Fortune’s top 200 American businessmen. It’s the only way to fly, really.

The buckets of nonstop rain falling on Fifth Avenue didn’t faze a courageous crowd of familiar faces from wading into Tiffany’s to check out its new table setting exhibit. In a salute to the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club — the New York social world’s forever saluting someone or something — Tiffany asked each of four leading interior decorators who worked on the Club’s celebrated Decorator Show House to design a unique table in honor of someone special to them. So Greg Jordan designed a “Lunch on Location” table for his friend Ashley Judd, a chic replica of a 1940s’ movie set; John Barman’s contribution was “All That Jazz,” a scene right out of the Art Deco period embodying jazz-age glamour and honoring the renowned musician Wynton Marsalis; Richard Mishaan created a sleek “Home Study” of sculptural serenity using designs from Tiffany’s Elsa Peretti collection for William Haseltine of Human Genome Sciences, a pioneer in the genomics field, and Mario Buatta did a setting for me called “Dinner al Fresco,” a celadon silk tent and a glorious table centered with silver pagoda and chairs covered in plush red-on-pink leopard. That will be the night Uncle Suzy entertains in something like that!

The chic and stunning Betsy Bloomingdale of the Beverly Hills Bloomingdales has been in New York shopping at — where else? — Bloomingdale’s for wedding presents for her eldest grandson, whose upcoming marriage in Santa Barbara is a big deal in the family. Betsy Bloomingdale with a grandson old enough to be getting married. Impossible. Look her over the next time you see her, and you’ll see what I mean.