Magazine article The Spectator

Apology

Magazine article The Spectator

Apology

Article excerpt

Gstaad

There might be fear and loathing in the White House, but here, in this sunny and beautiful alpine village, things are just as bad. The trouble is not the lack of snow, nor is it the fact that the Eagle club has shut its seasonal portals once again - the trouble is the Almanach de Gotha!

The definitive guide to international pedigrees has reappeared after an absence of 54 years, and the bogus ones are sweating it out. `Fifty years of faking it and all for nought,' was the way an old-timer put it. The Who's Who of nobility was once upon a time the bible of those whose blood was truly blue. Then, in 1944, came the break. The Commies did away with the Gotha, literally as well as metaphorically the Almanach was published in the Duchy of Gotha, ergo its name - but its loss was a gain for those who'd rather cheat than admit plebeian origins.

Now the chickens have come home to roost, as they say in Schoenburg-Hartenstein. But I, for one, am delighted. For far too long bogus Italians and Frogs have been throwing their phoney titles around, getting preferential treatment in restaurants, nightclubs, even whorehouses. No longer.

Like all bad tidings, the news spread quickly. I was up at the Eagle when I heard. A very nice man lunching next to me looked positively green. (He claims to be a marquis.) He improved a bit when Pino, the headwaiter, addressed me as Prince Taki. I imagine he thought that I was one of his kind. I have been addressed as Prince Taki since 1959, in fact there is a salad named after me, because of Fulke Warwick. As president of the club, Warwick was so appalled at the phoney handles some of the members were using, he instructed the staff to address me as Prince. When the King of Greece and I were once lunching together at the club he remarked upon my title calling me 'cousin'.

Mind you, we Greeks are safe. The Greek constitution forbids royal titles except for members of the royal family. Just as well. Can you imagine what would have happened if Niarchos and Onassis began to play one-upmanship with handles? The only Greek titles were those of the Ionian islands which were under Venice for 300 years, but we are no longer permitted to use them. …

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