On Thursday, April 21, the Versailles Foundation Inc. hosted its annual black tie benefit dinner of "The One Hundred" Patrons in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Braganza, the Royal House of Portugal at the Lotos Club.
Every year, Barbara de Portago, President of the Foundation "imports" one of her Royal pals from Europe who is asked to speak at the very beginning of dinner for fifteen minutes, no slides, no podium, to speak informally about the world and the life of a member of a royal family, as well as its history.
On arriving, guests are welcomed by the royal receiving line at the end of which a Cadet ushered guests into the wood-paneled Library of the Vanderbilt-Schiefflin house for a Taittinger Comtes de Champagne reception. When dinner is announced guests move into the Ballroom, where they stood for the posting of the Color Guard. This was followed by the duly heralded entrance of their Royal Highnesses. The Duke, Dom Duarte, was full of interesting facts about his family's history. His ancestor, Catherine of Braganza, when she married King Charles II of England, brought in her dowry to the Indian city of Bombay (today's Mumbai) as well as the then unheard of and untasted proverbial tea. When his talk was over, the duke was led to his seat next to Foundation Director and the Gala's underwriter, Gillian Spreckels Fuller. After dinner, the evening continued with the Fin de Soirée at Lavo for dancing, which was organized by the Foundation Junior Committee.
The Foundation continues restorations at the Château de Versailles, funds Fellowships for Artists and Volunteers at Giverny, the home and garden of Claude Monet. This site was put on the world's cultural map by Barbara's late parents, the former Curator and his American wife, Gerald and Florence Van der Kemp, who lived and fundraised in the left wing of the Palace at Versailles. Barbara continues their legacy and the Foundation has added projects French in origin, as in the underwriting of the catalogue for The Frick Collection's upcoming exhibition of the painter Watteau, etc.
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