Saturday, January 15, 2005

Two Deceased Noblemen

I was disappointed not to have gate-crashed the funeral of the late Prince Ruspoli whose obituary apprears in today's Telegraph.
In his handsome prime, the Maserati-driving prince was the toast of his haunts on the Via Veneto, at St Tropez and on Capri. Men, particularly actors, imitated his careless dress sense – going barefoot in summer when it was a novelty. The most celebrated anecdote about him was that he used to promenade with a parrot on his shoulder. Although he always insisted it was merely a wounded raven he had found on the tennis court, the image inspired the comic Totò's screen portrayal of The Emperor of Capri (1949).
Ruspoli's friends were all the right people; he shared a villa with Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda, while Brigitte Bardot came to the baptism of his son. He knew Truman Capote, Willem de Kooning and Balthus, and took lessons in hypnotism from Orson Welles. Ruspoli developed a life-long interest in magic and the occult after witnessing a demonstration of Welles's powers.
While sitting in a café, Welles asked him what he would like to see happen. Ruspoli told him that nothing would please him more than that a pretty girl at a neighbouring table drop her Bloody Mary down the front of her shirt. The glass duly obliged.
Matt (over at the Shrine) mentions an encounter with the Prince and his brother. The Telegraph notes: His younger brother was a somewhat eccentric figure on the fringes of politics. Also of note is the conclusion to the obituary:
He was a firm believer in reincarnation.
Also deceased is the holder of that great Irish noble title The McGillycuddy of the Reeks. (All Irish noble titles begin with 'The'.) Of course, anyone with a knowledge of Irish history would take a claim to a title of Gaelic Nobility with a pinch of salt - strictly speaking Gaelic titles were not inherited by primogeniture, but upon the death of a Chieftain an election was held amongst the senior male members of the Clan to decide the most suitable successor. In terms of antiquity, the Gaelic titles compare favourably with those of most other European countries, but due to certain 'political' difficulties with the English the validity transmission of these titles is fraught with historical uncertainty.

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