We learned that Richard spoke not one word of English, only French, and that he bankrupted England twice. First, to finance his 12th-century crusades to Palestine and secondly, when he laid England’s Treasury there to pay the ransom of 150,000 marks for his release from imprisonment by his enemy, Emperor Heinrich VI of Austria. Returning from Palestine, the dear man was shipwrecked in the Adriatic. Making his way by land through Europe, he entered the territories of his enemy, Leopold of Austria, disguised as a woodsman. He betrayed himself because, despite the disguise, he was wearing fine leather gloves. This Richard needed a Lion Heart. Legend has it that the King’s minstrel, Blondel, searched Austria castle by castle, trying to locate the imprisoned Richard by singing his favorite song until he heard Richard sing back in response from the castle he was kept in.
Richard’s shield carries three leopards, which are part of today’s British Monarchy’s Coat of Arms. Almost everyone thinks of them as lions but, please, don’t you make that mistake. The chairman of the Versailles evening was American heiress Gillian Spreckels Fuller, dressed in a jade Givenchy with matching emeralds. You will be thrilled to hear that under the palm trees, the guests dined on Beef Wellington and English Trifle. And among them were Vivien and Guy Wyser-Pratte, Jill Sackler, the Earl and Countess of Albemarle, Marisa Berenson, Marjorie Gubelmann, Muffie Potter Aston, Debbie Bancroft and Patricia Kluge Moses.
Every year, the Versailles Foundation is delighted to get donations from Lily Safra, the Desmarais family of Canada, the Dorrances from Lyford Cay, Bloomberg Inc., Doda Voridis, and Laurence Rockefeller. They are all friends of Florence van der Kemp, president of the Versailles Foundation, and her daughter, Barbara de Portago.