Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Ball for Daphné

One of the grandest celebrations of Argenteuil's days of glory as a residence of King Leopold III and his second family was the ball given for his daughter, Princess Marie-Christine, in the summer of 1971. Born February 6, 1951, Marie-Christine, fondly known as "Daphné" since childhood, had grown up into a handsome, if willful, young woman and her parents decided it was time to launch her into society with a splendid coming-of-age party. Organized by her talented, forceful mother, Princess Lilian, it was to be the first ball in the history of Argenteuil. Family friction arose over the invitations; Daphné's brother, Prince Alexandre, had hoped to include certain members of his own circle, while Lilian preferred to give precedence to European nobility and families of foreign heads of state. As a result, Alexandre did not attend the party! Nevertheless, it was a glamorous affair, hosted outside, to accommodate twenty-five round dinner tables, under a big tent tastefully decorated with flowers. In attendance, among many other notables, was Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy, Marie-Christine's cousin and a good friend of Leopold and Lilian. Meanwhile, Givenchy dresses set off the beauty of Daphné, her mother, and her younger sister Esméralda. Daphné wore a white gown adorned with hand-embroidered daisies. At table, she sat with a grandson and namesake of Charles de Gaulle. The ball continued all night, as Lilian danced with the Count of Paris and Leopold with his daughters. The festivities ended around sunrise with a traditional onion soup. (Le mythe d'Argenteuil, Michel Verwilghen, 2006, pp. 291-292).

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