Europa and the Bull: Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher may have her detractors, but her son Mark is bloody well not one of them. He tells the world — and the press — that since mum is no longer her country’s top dog, England is “going to the dogs.” It’s the reason he’s pulling up stakes and moving permanently to Dallas, his American wife Diane’s hometown. She happens to be an heiress, which makes it so nice for everyone. And let us never forget that Texas has no state income tax, the reason for those big smiles in the upper brackets.

Ian McKellan — Sir Ian to the populace — is reportedly keen to cast Michelle Pfeiffer as Queen Elizabeth I in the film of his acclaimed production of “Richard III.” Does it involve shaving the eyebrows and hairline? Oh, the pain. And wouldn’t Vanessa Redgrave be more to the point?

Speaking of Vanessa (soon due on the screen with Jamie Lee Curtis in “Mother’s Boys”), she wasn’t acting even slightly maternal in Monte Carlo when she flew in for the premiere of her former lover Franco Nero’s new movie, “Jonathan of the Bears.” Big Van and Franco were terribly into each other, and the story goes they may even decide to marry. Whatever, their first fling was over 20 years ago. So if you believe that what goes around comes around, feel free to give this a scintilla of credence. It might make their son, now in his 20s and studying in America, happy. Then again, who knows?

It’s all so terribleh silleh, but those hardy folk not bored to death with the travails of the Windsors are still talking about Princess Diana’s wish that her elder son, William, attend Oxford, even though daddy, the Prince of Wales, went to Cambridge. It’s all so frightfulleh silleh because the boy is only 11 and hasn’t even gone on to Eton, which he’s expected to do once he finishes at Ludgrove in Berkshire. Awfulleh silleh, the whole thing.

Still controversial even in death, Marlene Dietrich remains one of the most enigmatic and fascinating creatures in film history. Betting on this, Ballentine is coming out with a massive paperback printing this month of Marlene’s daughter, Maria Riva’s riveting book called “Marlene Dietrich” because what better? Greta Garbo?

Did you know that Christopher Reeve is incredibly shy when he comes face to face with famous actors and directors? He swears it’s true. “Meryl Streep tried to talk to me on a plane once,” he says. “I became beet red and went all to pieces.” He seems to have pulled himself together because he turns in a suave perf in “The Remains of the Day.” No blusher, he.

Shirley Lord, Vogue’s beauty director, and her new novel “My Sister’s Keeper,” were two reasons for all of the hoopla in Washington over the weekend. Polly Kraft-Cutler gave a ladies’ lunch in Shirley’s honor at Washington’s Cafe Milano, and Annie Renwick, the wife of British Ambassador Sir Robin Renwick, Evangeline Bruce in a yellow windbreaker and hood, Mrs. Vernon (Ann) Jordan and Mrs. Michael (Arianna) Huffington in a pink and green Chanel suit all turned up, horrible weather be hanged.

Then Buffy and Bill Cafritz, Washington grandees, and cosmetics princess Gale Hayman and her husband, Dr. William Haseltine, gave a big cocktail party for Shirley at the Haseltine’s Georgetown house, which is only a teensy bit smaller than the White House without the Oval Office. Among the tippy-top guests were the author’s husband, Abe Rosenthal of the New York Times, Oatsie Charles, Washington cliff-dweller extraordinaire, Kay Graham, Evangeline Bruce again, this time in a burgundy Chanel suit, the Italian Ambassador and Mrs. Boris (Flavia) Bianchieri, the William Safires, Ann Stock, the White House social secretary in a purple Chanel, Elizabeth Dole, Bernard Nussbaum and his wife, Toby (Nussbaum, President Clinton’s chief counsel, was heartily defending Whitewater, surprising not a living soul), Congressman John Dingell and his wife, Debbie, the Lane Kirklands, J. Carter Brown, Mrs. Richard (Gahl) Burt, Polly and Lloyd Cutler — that sort of thing.

Last night in New York, Michael Gould of the Bloomingdale Goulds gave a big reception for Shirley at Bloomingdale’s Le Train Bleu. They were all there.

In anticipation of the 40th anniversary of the Winter Antiques Show, Betty and Virgil Sherrill gave a cocktail party at their elegant apartment (Betty, an interior designer, would not have it otherwise) honoring the show’s chairmen, Paige Rense of the Architectural Digest Renses and Bill Blass of the $10 million gift to the New York Public Library Blasses. Betty Sherrill’s signature leopard touches were much in evidence. I mean, everything but a real live leopard. Everywhere you looked you saw such as Coco and Arie Kopelman, Eleanor Lambert, Jessie and Rand Araskog, Nina Griscom Baker, Casey and Abe Ribicoff, Duane and Mark Hampton, Albert Hadley, Glenn Bernbaum, Veronica and Randy Hearst, Marilyn Evins, Nan Kempner, Ellin and Renny Saltzman, Jerry Zipkin, Nancy and John Whitehead and dozens of others just like them.

To serve on the Winter Antiques Show committee, Paige and Bill have rounded up such as Lee and Walter Annenberg, Brooke Astor, Peggy and David Rockefeller, Ann and Gordon Getty and Barbra Streisand. Is that all right with you?

Palm Beach is pumping up the volume for the social extravaganza, the annual Red Cross Ball, set for The Breakers on Jan. 29. Dignitaries are flying in from all over — it’s positively thrilling — but best of all are the honored guests, Chief Warrant Officer Michael Durant and his wife, Laure. Durant is the helicopter pilot who was shot down over Somalia. The picture of him on a stretcher holding the American flag was seen around the world. He will tell them at the ball how he wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the Red Cross negotiating for his release. Then the only sound you’ll hear is the writing of checks. They hope.

The Red Cross Ball is a tiara, ballgown and white tie affair with trumpets, drums, flags and Marine Corps escorts in full regalia. This year, the party will entertain ambassadors from 15 countries, including French Ambassador Jacques Andreani and his fetching wife, Donatella. The Andreanis will stay with Eles and Warry Gillett, and Eles is having the diplomat’s ladies to lunch. So sweet. Marylou Whitney is having a dinner the night before the ball at The Everglades Club for the guests of honor.

Jackie and Dick Cowell are the chairmen of the gala, and after it’s all over, they’re off for St. Moritz to ski and lunch at the Corviglia Club. One hears the Cowells are very pleased to have learned that the Sultan of Brunei’s secretary called and said her boss had put the party on his schedule. I don’t have to tell you that the Sultan is the richest man in the world, but I will anyhow. Money shrieks.

Also expected at the Red Cross do are Pauline and Dixon Boardman, Jane and Guilford Dudley (he’s our former ambassador to Denmark), Candy Van Alen, Estee Lauder, Enid Haupt, Jean Tailer, Francis Kellogg, Joan and John Reynolds III and former Dominican Ambassador Enriquillo del Rosario and his wife, Audrey, who are hosting a dinner at home the next night, after the ball is over, for everyone who doesn’t need a blood transfusion after the whirl, whirl, whirl.