Another beautiful spring day in New York
Spring cleaning at Macy's. 8:35 PM. Photo: JH.

Luncheon and French/American Lessons. Barbara de Portago hosted a luncheon at the Pierre for the Versailes-Giverny Foundation. The guest of honor was His Imperial Highness Prince Charles Napoleon. Prince Napoleon is the great-great-great-grandnephew of the Emperor Napoleon who, with Abraham Lincoln is one of the two most written about historical figures in the history of Western Civilization. More than 100,000 books have been published about the emperor.
Emperor Napoleon

Prince Charles is the great-great-grandson by the second marriage of Jerome Bonaparte, Napoleon’s youngest brother. Jerome (who was born in 1784 and died in 1860 – almost forty years after Napoleon) was in the French Navy in 1803, fighting in the Caribbean when to avoid capture by the British, he was forced to land in the US. He arrived in New York and went to Baltimore where he met and fell in love with a young (18, he was 19) American girl named Elizabeth Patterson. Two months later he married her.

His brother the emperor was furious because he intended to marry off all of his siblings to European royals to solidify his poltical plans. So he had Jerome’s marriage annulled by the French court and ordered Jerome to return to France without “the young person.” Jerome took his wife back to Europe with him but she was denied landing on the Continent, and went to London where she gave birth to a son in 1805. Jerome eventually forgot about his first wife and, following brother’s orders, married Frederica Catherine, daughter of the King of Wurttemberg in 1807 and became King of Westphalia.

Betsy Bonaparte returned to America with her son. That son (nephew of Napoleon) eventually had two sons. One of them grew up to become Attorney General of the United States under Theodore Roosevelt and was one of the founders of the FBI. Thus a great-nephew of Napoleon was a founder of the FBI. The other son of Betsy and Jerome went back to France became a colonel in the army of his cousin Napoleon III (Napoleon’s nephew). He died in 1945 without a male heir, thus ending his part of the line.

Just as an aside, to add to the coincidences – Betsy Bonaparte’s brother married and when he died, his widow married the 1st Marquess Wellesley. The marquess’ younger brother Arthur became the Duke of Wellington and defeated Napoleon in the battle of Waterloo. So, if you want to stretch things, Napoleon was defeated by an in-law, once or twice removed.

The current Imperial Pretender – the honored guest at today’s luncheon at the Pierre – is a descendant of Jerome Bonaparte by his marriage to Frederica Catherine of Wurttemberg.

Florence Van der Kemp
HIH Prince Charles Napoleon and Gillian Fuller

The Prince, who was born in 1950 is, unlike his famous forebear a rather tall man, goodlooking, grey-haired and has recently published a book (in France) on his famous family. He talked about his family and France. After the reign of Napoleon III, in 1886, the entire Bonaparte family was exiled from France on the grounds that anyone related to that family was likely to be a threat to the Republic. They weren’t taking any more chances. General de Gaulle allowed Charles’ father back into France because of the work he carried out in the French Resistance again the Nazis in World War II. The father then married into the Belgian Royal family (his forebear would have been proud) and became quite royal all over again “If you wanted to interview, you had to address him as Monseigneur,” Charles said.

The present Prince Napoléon wears three hats. There are his business interests; he chairs the Souvenir Napoléonien – an organisation of 4,000 dedicated to upholding the memory of the Emperor – and, more recently, he has created an association called the APDIC, ‘for the promotion and defence of the image of Corsica,’ the birthplace of Napoleon.

The luncheon today, an annual affair, was held to benefit the Versailles-Giverny Foundation that does so much work in the ongoing restoration of Versailles and Monet’s gardens at Giverny.

Barbara de Portago
Cadets from the Valley Forge Military Academy and College
Jonathan Farkas
Lynn Wyatt and HIH Prince Charles Napoleon
Sabrina and Carl Forsythe
Carole Holmes and Kassidy Schagrin

Andrea Stark

Dame Jillian Sackler
John Punnett

Victoria Wyman

Denise Wohl
Lucia Hwong Gordon

Raul Suarez

There was another great luncheon going on across the Park at the same time – the American Museum of Natural History’s annual Environmental Lecture and Lunch. The lecture is moderated by ABC-TV 20/20’s Lynn Sherr.

This year the program explored how environmental exposures affect our health at every age and stage of life from childhood to maturity, as well as the wider biological implications of those exposures – from the food we eat, to the aire we breathe, to the products that we use to clean our homes.

Participating in the forum were Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, a pediatrician and Director of the Center for Children’s Heath and the Environment at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine here in New York; Dr. Frederica P. Perera, a professor in the Environmental Health Sciences Division of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and Director of environmental risks to children at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health; and Dr. John Wargo, a professor of Environmental Risk Analysis and Policy, professor of political science and Director of the Environment and Health Initiative at Yale.

A correspondent for NYSD, a young mother attended and reported: I went today for the first time, to the AMNH Environmental Lecture and Lunch. I had never been. Very interesting. Scary too. They took some kind of test on one of the doctor’s daughters, on her trip to school, all day, and then her trip home. They found that, oddly enough, there were more toxins in the school bus than in the closed up school. Apparently, we spend 85% of our time indoors. There are more harmful pathogens indoors than out, particularly harmful to children, (children, which includes embryos and fetuses, are the most at risk of environmental toxins.) Environmental problems account for asthma, which is on the rise, as well as heart disease.

Obesity is a problem as well: 30% of three year olds are obese, or at risk of being so. The panel doctors told us it was possibly due to low birth weight, and then the child has to play "catch up" and becomes overweight. I wanted to ask more about that, but there were so many questions, they never got to me.

Someone asked about the relationship to autism and mercury. The doctors are very careful here, as they made sure to tell us that all the mercury is currently out of the vaccines, and we, as parents, should not worry. But doctors do not like discussing autism it seems. I have a good friend with an autistic son. She is of the school, and even has a research center in Austin Texas that is dedicated to the research and treatment of autism and ADHD. She, as well as the doctors at her center Thoughtful House  are of the opinion that autism is not only caused genetically, but that environmental factors are to blame, as well as to many of these multiple vaccines. Most mainstream doctors do not want to get into that because of the controversy.

They did tell us that people are living 26 years longer. We should eat fruits and vegetables in season (less pesticides) , eat low on the food chain (veg, fruits, avoid animal fats, and saturated fats, eat small fish like shrimp and scallops, as larger fish have higher toxin levels), eat less calories. Things look bleak, yet we are living 26 years longer, I wonder why?

Meanwhile – last evening I went over to Francine LeFrak and Rick Friedberg’s Park Avenue apartment for a cocktail reception/book party they were giving for Robert Kimball and his new book “Cole Porter; Selected Lyrics,” published by American Poets Project, The Library of America.

The place was packed by the time I arrived and Steve Ross, the virtuoso interpreter of Cole Porter (now that Bobby Short is no longer with us) was at the Steinway. Mr. Kimball, who is an historian of the American musical theatre, has been a longtime advisor to the Cole Porter Musical and Literary Property Trust as well as editor of several books on Porter including “Cole” and “The Complete Lyrics of Cole Porter,” was at the piano singing with “Let’s Fly Away” with Ross.

“Let’s Fly Away
And find a land that’s warm and tropic,
Where Mother Nature’s not the topic
All the live long day …”

Robert Kimball

After Mr. Kimball spoke he introduced Taina Elg who starred in “Les Girls,” a 1957 MGM musical which also starred Gene Kelly, Mitzi Gaynor and Kay Kendall. Miss Elg sang the Porter song she introduced in that film – “Ca C’est L’Amour.”

Mr. Ross sang a song that Bobby Short recorded “I’m Throwing a Ball Tonight,” and I could tell the evening was just about to take off into a Porter lovefest. I took a few shots of people (although I missed Porter’s longtime friend Kitty Hart whose husband Moss wrote the book to the Porter show “Jubilee.” When I was leaving they were singing a song that Fred Astaire introduced in “The Gay Divorce,”

“After you, who
Will I tell my troubles to?
After you, who
Will I love?
After you, why
Should I take the time to try,
For who else could qualify?

After you, who?
“Hold my hand and swear,
You’ll never cease to care,
For without you there,
What would I do?
I could search years,
But who else who could turn my tears
Into laughter, after you?”

Frissons of nostalgia, for reasons I couldn’t begin to convey, all evoked by those wonderful Porter songs, the elevator door opened and I was out and back down on the Manhattan pavement, singing the melody out loud to myself (no one around to see this “troubadour” in his imagined glory.

Robert Kimball introducing Taina Elg
Taina Elg singing "Ca C’est L’Amour"
Robert Kimball and Steve Ross singing Let's Fly Away to the assembled guests
The guests listening
Taina Elg
L. to r.: Christina Wyeth (Who for many years was the assistant to Bobby Short); Lyn Nesbit and Lindbergh biographer Scott Berg.


Click here for NYSD Contents

April 27, 2006, Volume VI, Number 72
Photographs by DPC/


© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/