Monday, May 14, 2018

The Versailles Foundation’s annual dinner honoring Her Imperial Highness The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia

The Valley Forge Military Academy & College with Their Imperial Highnesses The Grand Duchess Maria and her son The Grand Duke George of Russia.
The Versailles Foundation, Inc held its once-a-year grand dinner last Thursday a week, in a private club here in New York.

It is the only benefit gala in New York that has a royal protocol that is honored by the hostess Barbara de Portago, and it is the main attraction of the evening which is formal with women dressing for the royal occasion. Mrs. Portago, not so incidentally, spent her youth living in Versailles, the palace, where her mother Florence Van de Kemp and stepfather Gerald Van der Kemp were the team that in many ways created and curated this monument to monarchy (and royal protocol) throughout the mid-20th century. Barbara is now the Foundation’s president.
The Valley Forge Military & College Color Guard
Each year she invites a member or members of a Royal family of mainly Europe – although Russia in the age of Monarchy was an important part of the network. The Tsarina, Alexandra, was a German royal princess, for example, and also a grandchild of Queen Victoria.

The royal guest speaks for 15 minutes about themselves, their families, its history; and how they take their place in a society where their ancestors were the absolute Rulers, and today the descendants are quite simply citizens – legally speaking, that is. What has been ironically interesting to me about these guest “talks” is how most, if not all, of these royal descendants speak of their country today, with an allegiance to its Peoples that often seems missing in a lot of political leadership around the world today.
Foundation Director Gillian Spreckels Fuller
Sophie Evekink, David Nichols, Foundation President Barbara de Portago, Soeske Viergutz, and Michael Marotta
This year’s honored guest and speaker is the heir to the Romanov Dynasty: Her Imperial Highness The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia. She bears a strong physical resemblance to Queen Victoria of whom she was a great-granddaughter (there were very many all over Europe). Her own grandmother Princess Victoria Melita, whose official title growing up was Princess Victoria of Edinburgh, later became the Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna. Grand Duchess Maria’s resemblance to Victoria, she told the guests, was a fact which “you can take, or not take, as a compliment!”

When the Tzar Nicolas II and his family were murdered by The Bolsheviks, The Duchess’s grandfather Grand Duke KiriII of Russia became the next in line of succession followed, by her father the Grand Duke Wladimir. They lived in exile for 75 years.
A beautiful setting for the dinner
Her Imperial Highness The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia
The combination of Glasnost in the 1980s and the election of Leningrad’s monarchist Mayor Sobchak in 1991 not only gave the city back its name of Saint Petersburg but Their Imperial Highnesses were invited back to their Mother Country. One year later The Grand Duke Wladimir died. He was the first to be buried in the mausoleum of The Imperial Family since before the Revolution.

The Grand Duchess Maria and her son The Grand Duke George, who also was present at the dinner, are now Russian citizens. During the Soviet era, the long smothered Russian Orthodox Church which considers the Tsar Nicolas II and his family Saints, is in full display once again. The Grand Duchess Maria spearheaded the rehabilitation of the Imperial Family who no longer are considered enemies of the state.
The Trumpets!
Her closing remarks were to remind us that Catherine The Great helped our country’s Independence by declaring The League of Armed Neutrality, thus putting a stop to the British Royal Navy’s planned blockade of our young 13 Colonies from getting crucial supplies.

The history that the Grand Duchess represents is physical and political confirmation of the natural social evolution in history, which is often overlooked in projecting the future of national government, and is enlightening.
Mitzi Perdue and Mary Pillsbury Wainwright
Her Royal Highness Princess Katarina Hohenzollern, Foundation Committee Member Heide Canellopoulos, and Foundation Director Camila Koenig
Cadets with Ainsley Katz and Heejo Kang
Peter and Allison Whipple Rockefeller Blake Funston and Emily Clementine
Cadets with Maribel and daughter Angelina Lieberman
Vanessa Noel
Barbara Tober and His Royal Highness Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia
Roger and Colette Mehle with Valley Forge Superintendent
Christopher Sheehan and Alexandra Huskins Peter Darrow and Lindsay Eisenkraft
Elizabeth Segerstrom and His Imperial Highness The Grand Duke George of Russia
Chevalier Richard and Dame Donna Soloway Alexandra Porter and Cody Kittle
Geoffrey Bradfield and Her Imperial Highness The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia
Virginia Hill and Mark Fernlund-Hearne
Elizabeth Jacobs and Nicholas Nicholson
Cat Pollon, Bruce Horten, and Emily Frick
Christian Keesee and Melissa Morris
Foundation International Committee Member H.E. Ambassador Musy and Sophie Evekink
Mai Harrison and His Royal Highness Prince Karl Friederich of Hohenzollern
Lucy Singh and Nicolas de Chambeyron
Lawrence Keigwin andSusan Gutfreund
Bob Sullivan and Shining Sung
Susan Kaplan and Aleksandar Erdeljan
Susan Krysewicz and Foundation Junior Committee Director Russell Grant
James Figg III and Patricia Hearst
Carl Magnus Svensson and Elbrun Kimmelman
Peter Kimmelman and Mary Van Pelt
Alison Atkins Crowther and Jayme Pinto
Kenneth Rothaus and Cadet
Photographs by Annie Watt & Jay Brady