Malcolm and the Duchess


‘What passes for Royalty on either side of The Pond’

I’m staring at my le Creuset, thinking of the Duchess of Devonshire. Wondering if I can squeeze out another batch of her boeuf bourguignon before the weather agrees that it’s Spring.

The Duchess was the last of several Mitford Sisters, two of whom were famous writers, and two of whom were famous Nazis. (One, Unity, shot herself when Hitler dumped her for Eva Braun.)

While her sisters were writing books and dabbling in fascism, Deborah was saving Chatsworth, her husband’s estate. Bless her, she was able to get people to pay good money to check out her Elvis Presley memorabilia and flocks of fine poultry.

Malcolm Forbes wasn’t a Duchess (or even a Duke), but he shared her fondness for celebrities and eggs, particularly Faberge. Malcolm was powerful, knew a lot of famous people, and had lots of houses–certainly more than Debo (as she was known to friends and fam, but not to me or Malcolm.)

Me, posing for the bus-riding paparazzi at one of Malcolm’s houses. See how I got there in a sec

Malcolm was a patient of The Dude’s Dad (who was a urologist). Very Important People (mostly Very Important Men) came to see him. Some of them (like Malcolm) became quite attached to The Dude’s Dad, who, in addition to being a great doctor, was also a very charming man.

The Dude’s Mom was charming and persuasive. When The Dude and I were planning our honeymoon, she picked up the phone: “Malcolm? Wayne and Alice are getting married. Can they stay in one of your houses?”

Fast forward to Malcolm Forbes’ castle in Morocco.

Me, holding up the dining room. Looooong table in background, with servant. The Dude and I would wave at each other from opposite ends

We were the only ones there, except for dozens of servants. We’d perch by the fountain and watch the tour buses pull in (Malcolm’s toy soldier museum was there, and it was open to the public).

It was fun watching people snap our pictures, thinking we must be Royalty.

Me, posing as Royalty at a memorable beef bourguignon-serving occasion involving a birthday. Nope, not the Duchess’s — or even Malcolm’s

New York City. March 2018

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4 thoughts on “Malcolm and the Duchess

  1. You mean the lady with the red feather boa and what appears to be a bald head is not the (or at least a) duchess? I think that by carrying off that outfit she might pass for one!

    • Ah, the Red-Feather Boa’d Lady! She is, in fact, a ‘Lady’. A real one! (Her late husband was knighted by the Queen.) She actually does have quite nice hair; it’s pulled back rather severely in this photo, I’m thinking so the boa gets the attention it deserves.

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