During the wedding ceremony the best man fainted—right into the arms of the Queen Mother. And that was one of the less spectacular events attending the marriage of the Earl of Lichfield and Lady Leonora Grosvenor, daughter of the Duke of Westminster.
Of the 1,900 invitees, 1,500 showed up for the royal bash, and it was hard to tell which was more impressive—the guest list or the menu. Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, Princess Margaret, were there (both without husbands), plus Earl Mountbatten of Burma, ex-King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, and Lord Lichfield’s mother (now married to Prince Georg of Denmark).
At the reception, the guests munched 1,000 lobsters, 1,400 mousses, 700 chicken livers, 4,900 scampi, 1,400 portions of smoked salmon and 7,500 rolls, easing all those calories down with 1,000 bottles of champagne.
Since the ceremony took place in Chester, a three-and-a-half-hour drive from London, a special train was provided to carry guests to and from the wedding. It is estimated that the whole affair cost about $100,000.
When the bride arrived at the cathedral, she was greeted by 20,000 gawkers. From behind police barricades they burst out in a spirited rendition of Oh How Could You Treat a Poor Maiden So. The song was meant to tease the 35-year-old bridegroom, Patrick Anson (who became Earl of Lichfield in 1960), whose reputation as a playboy is worldwide. A professional photographer, he met his bride when he snapped her as a debutante eight years ago, but the romance didn’t blossom until last June. There were plenty of well-publicized loves in his life before that, many of whom gamely came to the wedding. Among them were actress Gayle Hunnicutt, model Joanna Lumley and actress Fiona Lewis.
Lady Leonora, 25, seemed unperturbed. “I know Patrick has had something of a reputation in the past, but he really doesn’t lead that kind of life any more,” she said. (Perhaps his last fling was a bachelor party in London three days earlier, enlivened by eight female “escorts” and the showing of a dirty movie.)
Much of Britain seemed to enjoy the outrageous extravagances of the wedding. Not the London Sun. “The noble Duke of Westminster,” it grumped, “is clearly the leader of the one half of the world that doesn’t know how the other half lives.”