Madame Louise and the Invisible Prince; the Duke of York's Affair with This Mega-Rich Canadian Art Dealerwas So Secretive That She Called Him the Invisible Man. Now He Has Lived Up to That Tag ... and Disappeared from Her Life
Byline: LAURA COLLINS
WHEN the Duke of York immersed himself in a passionate and secretive affair with a wealthy Canadian divorcee, his enthusiasm led her to believe it would end in marriage.
The relationship was so intense that art dealer and socialite Louise Blouin MacBain talked of how she, her three teenage children and Andrew would become a family.
Although the Prince and 45-year-old Louise discreetly denied being anything other than friends, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that she introduced him to trusted friends and American socialites as her 'boyfriend'.
And though she referred to him as her 'invisible man' and they were wary of their affair being widely publicised - Louise believed their relationship to be serious and committed, investing both emotionally and financially in the liaison. Andrew, it seems, had other plans.
Last October, he ended their yearlong affair after one final night of passion at her home in Holland Park, London, leaving her bewildered and embarrassed.
Only his silence in the months that followed convinced her that it was all over.
One well-placed source said: 'She was elated after that final visit. But that was the last she heard of him.
'She had clung on to the hope that the relationship meant as much to Andrew as it did to her.
She'd chosen to ignore warnings from a number of friends who said that he was a playboy and that she was heading for a fall.'
It was an intriguing coupling and one that promised to lend Andrew, 45, the cultural and social gravitas that his image has always lacked.
Louise is intellectual, ambitious and beautiful.
She is worth an estimated [pounds sterling]250million and is the Harvard-educated proprietor of highbrow art magazine Art&Auction. She bought the international collectors' magazine in March 2003 as the first step in her planned [pounds sterling]334million drive to build a dominant publishing house specialising in fine art, Old masters, antiques, modern art and design.
Her standing in the British art scene is such that her influence and wealth rivals Charles Saatchi.
She is a mother of three - Alexandra, 17, Charles, 15, and Tara, 13. Her ex-husband, Canadian John MacBain, was a Rhodes Scholar who went to Oxford before becoming a self-made publishing millionaire. He is now remarried and living in London and the couple share custody of their children.
Prince Andrew's life and loves could hardly be more different. Since divorcing Sarah Ferguson in 1992, he has romanced a succession of youthful beauties, from models Caprice and Lisa Barbuscia to society girl Caroline Stanbury and entrepreneur Amanda Staveley.
But he has never been required to cultivate the drive and ambition possessed by Louise, and the only thing he has earned is his reputation as a playboy prince and the nickname Air Miles Andy, mocking his extravagant travel arrangements.
Yet when he met Louise at an exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in London in June 2002, the attraction was mutual.
Louise was utterly taken with Andrew, who impressed her with his amateur interest in art and photography.
Louise, who has homes in Paris and the Hamptons, the fashionable weekend retreat on the east coast of America, had only recently bought her mansion in Holland Park.
Already well-established in European royal circles - she counts Princess Elena of Spain, her husband the Duke of Ligo and the Prince of Luxembourg as her closest friends - Louise began mingling with members of our own Royal Family.
A combination of extreme wealth, beauty and her interest in art-based charitable causes smoothed her path.
She has dined with Prince and Princess Michael of Kent at their country home of Nether Lypiatt, Gloucestershire, and they in turn have been visitors at her London home. She has met both the Queen and Prince Philip. …