- The Washington Times - Monday, January 17, 2005

Holding a tumbler of Ballantine scotch in one hand, and a gleaming wooden and brass cane in the other, Prince Alexis Obolensky — long gray whiskers twitching — surveyed the elegant crowd celebrating the Russian New Year at the Mayflower Hotel Friday night before pronouncing on the subject of mistresses: “I had a hell of a lot.” At 86, he is “an old geezer and proud of it,” spry though unsteady on his feet in his gold and pearl falconer’s costume and knee high brown riding boots, which conjure up images of his ancestors during the reign of Ivan the Terrible.

“But the love of my life,” he noted quickly, “is my present wife whom I’ve had for 52 years. It’s absolute madness.”

Princess (Selene) Obolensky,chairman of the 35th annual event which raises money for Russian charities, was wearing her traditional sarafan dress and kokoshnik headdress as she scurried through the dining room greeting guests before the beef stroganoff dinner and ball hosted by White Russian aristocrats in a scene straight from “Doctor Zhivago” before the revolution.

Guests — barons, princesses and viscountess among them —were told to wear white-tie, black-tie or “Russian costume,” and there were more than a few medals and decorative ribbons pinned to the chests of those opting for formal attire.

Prince and Princess David Chavchavadze (he’s retired CIA and a double second cousin of Czar Nicholas II) chatted with Russian Ambassador Yuri V. Ushakov and his blonde and bubbly wife, Svetlana. Guests from various embassies joined the ladies and gentlemen of title stopping to pay their respects to Prince Obolensky, who greeted them in English, French, Italian, German and Russian.

Does he think it’s bizarre that Americans are not multilingual? “No, I don’t think it’s bizarre at all,” he replied, “because Americans are bizarre.”

As the Washington Balalaika Society played the Czarist Russian national anthem, Prince Obolensky confided he did not play the traditional instrument.” The balalaika is for peasants. And I’m not a peasant,” he declared as a cotillion of swan-like girls in white dresses twirled with their escorts to a Viennese waltz on the dance floor.

Prince Obolensky took the stage to welcome the crowd, referring to himself as a “parched mummy” before offering a toast to the New Year and bidding farewell to 2004, a year which he said was “lousy.” The crowd loved it.

Then TV weatherman Bob Ryan (whose wife, Olga, is of Russian descent) took the microphone to lead the customary salute to Prince and Princess Obolensky: “Hip Hip Hooray.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide