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The delightfully bitchy obituary of Princesse Ghislaine de Polignac
February 5, 2011 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Princesse Ghislaine de Polignac, who has died aged 92, was the former wife of Prince Edmond de Polignac, and more than once survived crises that would have consigned a less determined person to social ostracism. Here's a sketch of her as a younger woman.
posted by Mr. Gunn (30 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I had never heard of her but that is an entertainingly vicious obituary

But Ghislaine de Polignac could also be ruthless. She took a dim view of a society figure who became depressed and threw himself out of the window at his host’s chateau, landing in the moat (so that it was a long time before his body was found). Declaring this to be bad manners because lunch had been delayed, she added: “Listen. If you want to die, there are plenty of places in the world where you can go . You go to Dubrovnik, you put on a moustache and you say you’re a Croat. Someone will certainly kill you.”
posted by Rumple at 1:17 PM on February 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


I read this article earlier and had to spend some time figuring out exactly what she was a Princess of! The best I could do is that the Duc de Polignac is a hereditary peerage of France.

And because I am not a subject of any royal family, I then learned that, in royalist France, a peerage was an extremely rare and high honor.

So there you go!
posted by sbutler at 1:18 PM on February 5, 2011


With those cheekbones, I can only assume Angelina Jolie will play her in the eventual movie.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:20 PM on February 5, 2011


A thoroughly entertaining read, perfect for the soothing end to a long and harrowing day.

My new favourite word: tire-bouche
posted by infini at 1:22 PM on February 5, 2011


She sounds like the Paris Hilton of the 1940s. Shallow and trampy, except with a title.
posted by Jubey at 1:22 PM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


And that is the story of Alma,
Who knew how to receive and to give.
The body that reached her embalma'
Was one that had known how to live.


Alma Maria Mahler Gropius Werfel - as interpreted by Tom Lehrer.
posted by SPrintF at 1:29 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, hey! YouTube!
posted by SPrintF at 1:31 PM on February 5, 2011


What's french for the town bike?
posted by the cuban at 1:32 PM on February 5, 2011


What's french for the town bike?

Must be something close to what she said about Pamela Harriman: “C’est chez Pam qu’on va baiser." Yikes. The Princesse must have had really good insurance on that glass house she was throwing stones from.

With those cheekbones, I can only assume Angelina Jolie will play her in the eventual movie.

If ever there was role Angelina was born to play. She'd probably consider it a little too on the nose for her though.
posted by fuse theorem at 1:49 PM on February 5, 2011


Must be something close to what she said about Pamela Harriman: “C’est chez Pam qu’on va baiser." Yikes.

My high school French is rusty, I get the idea, but can you translate that more subtly?
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:55 PM on February 5, 2011


baiser = to fuck
posted by tractorfeed at 2:06 PM on February 5, 2011


sorry, that wasn't very subtle

"If it's a fuck you're after, you'll find it at Pam's" more or less
posted by tractorfeed at 2:08 PM on February 5, 2011


I don't see why she matters.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 2:24 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The house of Polignac is also (technically) the current Princely House of Monaco; Prince Rainier (husband of the ill-fated Grace Kelly) was the son of a Monagesque princess and a Polignac. For patriotic reasons, the princely house still keeps the name Grimaldi, though it has passed through the female line a couple of times.

Another great obituary from the Daily Telegraph is that of Gottfried von Bismarck, great-great-grandson of the famous Prussian/German politician Otto von Bismarck. After describing him as an "extravagant host of homosexual orgies," the obit ends on a rather subdued note: "He never married."
posted by dhens at 2:25 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


> survived crises that would have consigned a less determined person to social ostracism

I suspect that Duff Cooper's wayward knob might not have been entirely without blame here ...
posted by scruss at 2:51 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


nice slut-shaming ITT
posted by girih knot at 2:55 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I found the obit totally fascinating. Now I'm desperate to find a copy of this poem, “Advice to a foreigner on how to succeed in Paris.” Not speaking French, I don't hold out much hope, but if any of you polyglots uncovers it, I'd appreciate a link!

nice slut-shaming ITT

Yep. Glaring double standard at work in this obit. The fellow who attended a ball at which he found himself in the company of three of his mistresses -- that guy had better get an obit just as juicy.
posted by artemisia at 2:59 PM on February 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


What 6th form intern at The Telegraph wrote this paragraph?:

"In the summer of 1947 Rosita Winston, golden-haired and part-Cherokee Indian, rented the Chateau de l’Horizon in the south of France and offered indiscriminate hospitality to the relatively impoverished French aristocracy, including Ghislaine de Polignac. Such was the press of titled Gauls at the table that her husband, Norman K Winston (a saturnine figure who had created a vast property empire and was worth some $40 million) took to lunching by himself at Eden Roc. Presently Mrs Winston paid Ghislaine’s way over to New York, where she bought her new friend a trousseau of Dior “New Look” clothes. "


The rest wasn't that much better. Shame on the Tele - they are usually far better with the Obits. Seriously, this piece was written by four different people, likely in 3 different decades. I know it files these things away for The Eventful Day and all that, but sheesh. Has 'The Hellograph' outsourced the Subs to some Sixth Form college?

SUBS: Please clean this up for tense and continuity and consistency.
posted by Sk4n at 3:26 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The fellow who attended a ball at which he found himself in the company of three of his mistresses -- that guy had better get an obit just as juicy

Duff Cooper was born a total badass who could tap any ass starting at the age of 3. Rumored to have lost his virginity to an Oxford girl at the scant age of 9, Cooper was known for getting it done with his well endowed "not-Mini Cooper."

Having banged more girls than you've kissed by the time he graduated college, "Duff and stuff" as he was then known, began to engage in increasingly sitcom like antics. In one Dick Van Dyke inspired antic, "Fuck McDuff" found himself at the same party as three of mistresses while still managing to coat check the coat check girl. Described by many as a perfect 10, no one thought she was doable, especially with three mistresses, his wife, two of his horses and a duck all attending the same party. He was never caught.

The sexual revolution was a trying time for Duff Cooper, and despite having to pick up many skills he previously never needed to rely on, still banged away harder than a piston in a classic Dodge Viper. Making Errol Flynn look like a chaste Catholic school girl, Duff Cooper continued to push the boundaries of sexual mores. He had sex in a hot air balloon with the operator, despite his wife being present and never noticing. During an audience with the pope he "Duffed" 14 nuns, 12 choir girls and one lost Parisian tourist. On a dare from his good friend President Kennedy, he had sex with Khrushchev's wife, dog, daughter, potted plant and a rock in the Soviet Premier's garden that vaguely resembled Ann Margaret.

He is survived by his 21 sons, 14 daughters, a cactus and a house plant currently residing in Florida.
posted by geoff. at 3:26 PM on February 5, 2011 [27 favorites]


Oh my god things like this make me feel all squirmy about being a female and about how females have traditionally gained any semblance of power and basically right now I am flipping out about royal dudes sharing ladies who lunch and am despairing of ever actually having a say in anything at all. Eff eff eff eff.
posted by lauranesson at 3:50 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Whaaaaaat? This is not a woman who ever had any interest in power, she liked sex and a good time. Women who want to feel powerful can study the example of Margaret Thatcher or one of the many women CEOs of large corporations (Pepsi, Kraft, ADM, Pearson, Xerox...).
posted by anigbrowl at 6:10 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whaaaaat? If all she wanted was sex and a good time she could have been sleeping with poor nobodies. Unless you know a lot more about her than this obituary revealed there's no basis for assuming she was so different than the numerous talented, skilled, smart women throughout time who have had so few routes to power and money except through their looks and charm.

Not that she didn't also like sex and a good time!
posted by Salamandrous at 6:41 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow! What a woman!
posted by Xoebe at 8:13 PM on February 5, 2011


She sounds like one hell of a woman. I hope there's a literary executor with the manuscript for a posthumous autobiography, and if not, I hope there's a biography coming soon.
posted by immlass at 9:00 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


She was amazing and like immlass I hope she wrote something down.
posted by arse_hat at 11:29 PM on February 5, 2011


I read this article earlier and had to spend some time figuring out exactly what she was a Princess of!

Prince and princess are often hereditary titles not attached to royal families. A non-royal prince is properly addressed as your serene highness which has always pleased me.

The rest wasn't that much better. Shame on the Tele - they are usually far better with the Obits.

Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd is much missed.
posted by atrazine at 4:52 AM on February 6, 2011


Unless you know a lot more about her than this obituary revealed, there's no basis for assuming she was talented, skilled, or smart. This is just a story about European aristocracy being useless.

BTW, how did the French aristocracy get on with the Nazis? The story skips those years.
posted by ryanrs at 5:51 AM on February 6, 2011


She's up there with the tart of the week.

Condolences to her motherless children.
posted by nickyskye at 8:01 AM on February 6, 2011


Tricky females of another feather.
posted by nickyskye at 8:57 AM on February 6, 2011


I don't see why she matters.

Matter? Matter? Why does anybody matter?

For the purposes of this post and this obit, she matters because her life was unusual and gossip worthy and offers some points to consider on how one might lead one's own life.

how did the French aristocracy get on with the Nazis?

They are not a uniform block, you understand. Some even supported the revolution.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:55 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


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