A Royal New York Monday
Shelter from the mini-rain storm looking south from East 54th Street. Photo: JH.
Last night at the Pierre. The Queen Sofia Spanish Institute of New York held The Gold Medal Gala, a reception and dinner in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain, chaired by Oscar de la Renta, Chairman of the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute; and honoring Julio Iglesias, Dr. Henry Kissinger, and Mrs. Beatrice Santo Domingo. The evening was under the honorary patronage of President and Mrs. George W. Bush and Their Majesties King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain. Senator Hillary Clinton also attended the dinner and was seated on the right of Mr. de la Renta, with Queen Sofia to his left (and he, to her right of course).

Oscar de la Renta, Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain, and Hillary Clinton
Julio Iglesias
The Queen of Spain drew a big glamorous crowd. There was a cocktail reception beginning at 7:30. At 8:30, the gongs gonged and the crowd began moving toward the hotel ballroom, outside of which was a reception line which included, among others, the Queen, Mr. de la Renta and Mrs. Santo Domingo. There were several in the crowd who rarely make appearances at most benefit galas but made an exception for the Queen.

Sofia, like her husband, is descended from most of the royal houses of Europe. She is the first born daughter of King Paul and Queen Fredericka of Greece. Her brother is King Constantine of Greece. She is directly related to Queen Elizabeth II as well as the czars of Russia, the German Emperors, Queen Victoria, King Christian of Denmark as well as the Bourbon dynasty of both France and Spain. So is her husband. It is all one big (gigantic is a better word) family, if not always so happy.

The queen, who was born in 1938, is the mother of Crown Prince Felipe and two daughters, Infanta Elena and Infanta Cristina, who preceded their brother by birth. From observation last night, she has a very pleasant demeanor and seemed to be enjoying herself speaking to many people in the reception line, many of whom she knew and many whom she was meeting for the first time. The atmosphere was very unlike that surrounding her cousins, the British royals, who seem stiff and restrained at all times, as if to mark the division between themselves and everybody else. Queen Sofia was warm and ebullient.

Growing up she spent part of her childhood in Egypt and South Africa, as her family was obliged to go into exile during the Second World War. She returned to Greece in 1946, at the end of the War, and completed her education at Schloss Salem, a German boarding school. She then returned to Athens where she specialized in pediatrics, music, and archaelogy. In 1960 she took part as a reserve for the Greek sailing team in the Olympics in Rome.

She married Juan Carlos in 1962. Juan Carlos was born in Rome, the same year as his wife, where the Royal Family was living at the time, having been deposed when the Republic was proclaimed in 1931 by the dictator Francisco Franco. After the couple were married, they went to live in Spain. After the death of Franco, already having been designated the future head of state in 1969, on November 22, 1975, Juan Carlos was proclaimed king. In 1976 came the transition to democracy. Today, Spain is considered the most modern and workable constitutional monarchy in all of Europe.

After the cocktail hour last night, there was a long interval when many went through the reception line. I stood aside so that I could photograph some of those greeting the Queen. Then we all adjourned to the ballroom which was decorated for the occasion by David Monn. I spotted Hillary who looked very elegant in a navy blue velvet Oscar de la Renta dress.
The receiving line ...
There were several long dresses with trains last night. And lots of jewels – more than one usually sees as these occasions. Mrs. Jayne Wrightsman was in the crowd – an unusual occasion for the now dowager of what makes up the top tier of what is now described as New York society. Also in the crowd I saw Mr. and Mrs. Sid Bass, the very regal looking Nancy (Mrs. Henry) Kissinger, Carroll Petrie who was with John Christensen and her daughter Andrea, the Marquessa de Portago who has just finished a book of photography on Native American culture; Rafael the duc de Feria, Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia. The prince and the duke soon learned on meeting that they were wearing the same Royal Oak watch by Audemars Piguet, except Prince Dimitri’s was accompanied by a wristlet with one large black pearl (something for the duke to want). Also in the crowd, Reinaldo and Carolina Herrera and their two beautiful daughters Carolina Jr. and Patricia and their handsome husbands as well, Miguel Baez and Gerrit Lansing, who were seated at the same table as Ashley and Ogden Phipps Jr.

Also, newcomers in the New York crowd were the Sanchez Junco family from Spain – Eduardo and Mercedes and the young son Eduardo Sanchez Perez and his wife Asunta. The Sanchez own the most successful magazines in the world – Ola! and Hello! And with a staff of only twenty-two, sell millions of copies every week and are imitated by everyone with only fair to middling success, if that. The entire family was warm and friendly and unlike so many media titans one meets who are so filled with their self-importance they can barely move their mouths, let alone their bodies across a room. The Sanchezes were thrilled to be in New York, and at such a beautiful party in the presence of their Queen.
The table setting
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Also in the crowd of more than 490 Anna Wintour and Shelby Bryan, Patsy Preston, Eliza Bolen Reed, the daughter of Annette de la Renta, Cecile and Ezra Zilkha, Mercedes and Gaston Azcarraga, Maria Therese and Manuel Arango, George and Kathy Moore; Liza Minnelli with HSH Prince Max Schaumburg Lippe and Paola Isabella Tornito, Harriette and Noel Levine, Kenny Lane and Doda Voridis, James Reginato who is heading off to Los Angeles to interview the now legendary, almost forgotten (by today’s count), the original mega-talent agent Sue Mengers; decorator Miles Redd, Abe and Shirley Lord Rosenthal, Doris and Juan Beckmann, Immaculada de Habsburga, Mrs. OJ Shansby, James Wolfensohn with Countess Maria Beatrice Arco, Patty and Gustavos Cisneros, Steve and Christine Schwarzman, Eric Javits, Ambassador and Mrs. Enriquillo del Rosario, Dr. Bill Haseltine, John Dobkin, Anne d’Harnancourt of the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts, Ann Nitze, Pepe and Emilia Fanjul, Lee Thaw, Annabelle and Alberto Mariaca, Ana and Isabel Esteve, Claudia and Javiar Macaya, Barbie Bancroft, Lucia Moreira Salles, Jamie Figg, Robert Tartarini, Dr. Bruce Horton, William Feighan with Carmen Petrowitz, Princess Firyal of Jordan and Lionel Pincus, Ahmet and Mica Ertegun, Alejandro Santo Domingo, Dr. John Brademas, Gaetana Enders, Peter Lyden, and ... well, you get the picture.

There were brief speeches with the awarding of the medals, short and sweet and pleasing to all ears. And then it was over. Only in New York ...
Ezra and Cecile Zilkha
Lee Thaw
Steve and Christine Schwarzman
Nancy Kissinger and Mercedes Bass
Prince Max, Liza Minnelli, and Paola Isabella Tornito
Kenny Lane and Rafael the duc de Feria
Miles Redd, Eliza Reed Bolen, and James Reginato
Eliza Reed Bolen's train
Prince Dimitri and Rafael the duc de Feria comparing their Royal Oak watches
Emilia Fanjul
Carolina Herrera and Pepe Fanjul
Noel and Harriette Levine
Princess Firyal of Jordan
Bill Feighan and Carmen Petrowitz
James Wolfensohn and Countess Maria Beatrice Arco
Mayor Mike and Diana Taylor
Dr. Bill Haseltine and friend
Abe Rosenthal and Shirley Lord Rosenthal
Hillary Clinton
Henry Kissinger and Annette de la Renta
George and Kathie Moore
Annabelle Mariaca
Patricia Herrera Lansing
Gerrit Lansing
Carroll Petrie and Andrea Portago
Asunta and Eduardo Sanchez Perez with Mercedes and Eduardo Sanchez Junco
Ashley Phipps
Miguel Baez and Carolina Herrera Jr.
Mica Ertegun and Cecile Zilkha

November 29, 2005, Volume V, Number 198
Photographs by DPC/NYSD.com


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