November 2013

Essays

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Pitty Pat & Prince Lorenzo

It was to be the fairytale wedding of 1990. The groom was Lorenzo Montesini, Prince Giustiniani, Count of the Phanaar, Knight of Saint Sophia, Baron Alexandroff. The bride-to-be was Primrose “Pitty Pat” Dunlop, heiress to the empress of Australian high society, Lady Potter, and step-daughter to well-heeled Sir Ian, Knight of the Bourse and Broker of the Stock. The nuptials were to be performed on Easter Monday at the Basilica di San Pietro in Venice before a glittering congregation of congregating glitterers who flocked to the Hotel Cipriani for the occasion.

Pitty Pat was 36-ish and long divorced. Not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, she pursued no trade or profession apart from the exhausting requirements of being her mother’s daughter.

The prince, who kept himself by working as a cabin steward for Qantas, was 45. Soft-faced and genial, Montesini was an Alexandrine, born into the last gasp of that city’s cosmopolitan caste of deracinated, pedigree-burnishing snobocracy. Inheriting a slew of Ruritanian titles and not much else, he grew up speaking four languages and dressing for dinner. But by the time he reached his teens, his father had moved to Australia, a fate his highly strung mother could not endure. He fitted in at school, joined the army, went to Vietnam, then parlayed his languages and manners into jobs with international airlines.

By the late 1980s he had became a trophy for the more important ladies-who-lunch, ever available for handbag duty at the opera and ballet. His self-published novel, Cardboard Cantata, was dedicated to Pitty Pat Dunlop, who launched it. The idea that they should marry started as a joke, grew into a rumour, then developed a life of its own, fanned by an engagement notice placed by Lady Potter. The fact that the prospective groom had long been “more than married” to another man was no great obstacle as far as her ladyship was concerned. Her daughter would, after all, become a princess.

Arrangements were promptly set in motion. Pitty Pat was instructed in the Catholic religion by high-society priest Vincent Kiss, who was later convicted of fraud and offences against children. Invitations were issued, a palazzo rented, the church booked. The media went into a frenzy.

Nerves were frazzled to breaking point. The happy couple were snapping and snarling at each other. Tiff turned to raging row. Montesini decamped with his best man and longtime lover. The media frenzy went into hyperdrive.

Ms Dunlop eventually secured a title by marrying a real estate agent and Polish count. Lorenzo became involved with Australians for Constitutional Monarchy and a “very big boy named Ramy”.

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Shane Maloney is a writer and the author of the award-winning Murray Whelan series of crime novels. His 'Encounters', illustrated by Chris Grosz, have been published in a collection, Australian Encounters.

Chris Grosz is a book illustrator, painter and political cartoonist. He has illustrated newspapers and magazines such as the Age, the Bulletin and Time.


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