Oh, what might have been. In January 2019—a full year before Megxit, interestingly—the Sussexes met with executives from Quibi (then a streaming platform, now history) at Kensington Palace to discuss potential projects, according to The Mail on Sunday. At the meeting, Quibi’s founder, Jeffrey Katzenberg, is said to have suggested a show the duchess might host: “Jeffrey thought that puppies and princesses both sold well so if you put them together you’d have something incredibly commercial,” according to a source. (Katzenberg didn’t respond to the Mail’s requests for comment.) Meghan was said to be somewhat aghast at the princess-and-pooches idea. But if you’ve ever wondered what kind of mold-breaking creative thinking turns you into a media mogul with a net worth of $900 million, now you know.
The clink isn’t necessarily the wisest place to make new friends. Patrizia Reggiani, whose life is being turned into a movie starring Lady Gaga and a vertically challenged—according to at least one Gucci family member—Al Pacino (see last week’s Diary), might have been scammed to the tune of some $4 million by her former cellmate and others. Police are investigating whether Reggiani, who served 18 years for having hired someone to murder her husband, Maurizio Gucci, because he “irritated” her, made another possibly ill-advised hire when she took on Loredana Cano as her personal assistant after the two were released from prison. The Times of London reported that, according to the lawyer representing Reggiani’s daughters, “Reggiani had nothing when she left jail and suddenly ran into millions when her mother died in 2019,” and that “Cano and her associates ‘formed a protective circle around’ Reggiani, stopping her from ‘having contact with the outside world.’”
Despite the alleged scam, the 72-year-old socialite will not be destitute. As the newspaper reported: “In 2017, a court ruled Reggiani could keep the nearly £900,000 [$1.25 million] a year divorce settlement she obtained from Maurizio Gucci, even though she had him killed.” Her lawyer at the time noted, “A deal is a deal.”
And they say the art of correspondence is dead! Netflix’s press release about its proposed reality-TV “love letter to Byron Bay” has not gone unanswered: residents of this laid-back paradise at Australia’s eastern tip wasted no time in replying with an 8,000-name petition saying, in effect, Return to sender. Long popular with artists, surfers, and writers, the beach town has more recently drawn movie stars and other fabulous (and fabulously wealthy) types. But the area also struggles with unemployment, environmental, and housing issues, and the locals detected a whiff of tone deafness in Netflix’s promise that the show, Byron Baes, would offer “a feed of hot Instagrammers living their best lives, being their best selves, creating the best content, #nofilter guaranteed.” The show is now said to be in “crisis talks” with the community.
The new $300,000 Bentley Flying Spur that transported Prince Andrew from his father’s funeral did not go unnoticed by Isabelle de Rouvre, who claims the Duke of York still owes her for the Verbier ski chalet she sold him in 2014. “You know, nothing surprises me about him,” de Rouvre told the Daily Mail. “Nothing.” She has sued Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson (the two have put the chalet on the market), for $9 million. Perhaps casting about for projects to fill his schedule since having relinquished all his public duties “for the foreseeable future,” the duke, upon receiving the blue Bentley, took its measure and came to a decision: it would be painted … racing green. Henceforth. And so, the hours pass.
The tiny archipelago of Malta has more to offer than climate, beaches, and a legend involving a certain jewel-encrusted statuette of a falcon: golden passports. “Super-rich Russians, Chinese and Saudis have secured unrestricted access to the EU via a Maltese cash-for-passports scheme that requires them to spend less than three weeks in the country,” The Guardian reported. A leak from the passport-brokerage firm Henley & Partners “reveals how some applicants seeking to buy a Maltese passport through a government investor scheme were able to create a pretence that they were ‘resident’ in the country for a full year by renting apartments and then leaving them empty.” According to the newspaper, “the Maltese government rejects any suggestion that its residency requirement is a sham.” Way too modest.
The benighted de-knighted: C.B.E.’s, O.B.E.’s, and M.B.E.’s aren’t forever, an investigation by The Times of London has found, and clinging to one’s British orders has become especially tenuous of late. “Last year nine people had honours revoked, marking the end of a decade in which a record 70 people had their honours ‘cancelled and annulled,’” reported the newspaper. No reason is given for the unbestowings, but The Times’s “complete list … of honours revoked by the monarchy since 1945 shows that the biggest category of disgrace is child sex offences, which accounts for 37 per cent of cancellations in the past 20 years. In second place was fraud, at 21 per cent.” Recent dishonorees include Harvey Weinstein (ex-C.B.E., adult-sex offenses), the former Downing Street aide Mark Robert Adams (ex-O.B.E., adult-sex offenses), and the financier Hanif Mohamed Lalani (ex-O.B.E., fraud). Among the canceled through history are Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, Robert Mugabe, Nicolae Ceaușescu, and John Profumo.
Yes, it can be hard to explain certain royal behavior, but at least some historians are attempting to. A study of 331 monarchs in 13 countries between the years 990 and 1800 indicates that you probably shouldn’t marry your cousin, at least not if you’re hoping to be an effective head of state. The paper, for America’s National Bureau of Economic Research, concluded that inbreeding leads to “significantly less capable rulers”—to say nothing of confusing holiday gatherings. Charles II of Spain, who ruled from 1665 to 1700, was deemed Most Inbred. “Spain was blighted by poverty and decline during his reign,” said The Times of London. “Charles, the son of an uncle and niece and product of inbreeding over generations, was described by the historians Will and Ariel Durant as ‘short, lame, epileptic, senile and completely bald before 35.’” However, “the inbreeding and personal qualities of more recent monarchs have been of little consequence because their powers have been constrained by parliaments,” reported The Times.
George Kalogerakis is a Writer at Large for AIR MAIL