Another less fulfilling Parisian coup de foudre began at Isobel Goldsmith's exotic debutante ball, where all the girls were instructed to wear tête fleuriée. Next to me at dinner a towering tiara of flowers encircled the head of a rather pretty blonde named Marie-Christine. We danced frequently, and suddenly she held me very close, whispering that this moment was all she had dreamed of, waltzing with a handsome young Englishman; she would like it to last forever, and even hinted at something more permanent. Somewhat alarmed, I asked Isobel the name of this forthright friend. I was even more alarmed to learn she was a princess of Belgium, daughter of King Leopold III and Mme de Réthy. And within a few minutes I was bowing to that supremely elegant woman, who was clearly giving me the once-over. I failed her testing eye. But not, it turned out, entirely. A year or so later, at Patrick Lichfield's wedding to Leonora Grosvenor, there again was ma princesse, with the same intentions; so much so that I was asked to spend the night at Cholmondeley Castle, where she and Mme de Réthy were staying. I declined, I hope politely. Later I rather proudly told the story to Tom Parr. "Good God", he said."Just imagine being the Tony Snowdon of Belgium". (Redeeming Features: A Memoir, 2009, pp. 270-271)
Monday, June 27, 2011
A Waltz with a Princess
Quite by accident, I came across this odd, rather snide little anecdote about Princess Marie-Christine and her mother, Princess Lilian, from the relentlessly name-dropping memoirs of British designer Nicholas Haslam.