Victoria’s Secrets: The Royal Palms met a Royal!

Local artist Kyle Lucks created a portrait of the Duchess

When I visit The Breakers Palm Beach at night, it’s a sight to behold with tall, majestic royal palms wrapped in lights lighting the long driveway as I enter the grounds — it feels like I am on a movie set! Last week, the Royal Palms met a royal person.

The Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, affectionately called “Fergie,” spoke at the Cancer Alliance of Help & Hope luncheon that was held in the Breakers’ elegant ballroom overlooking the roaring ocean. The sold out audience was there to raise money for the cause that offers help to people going through cancer treatments. 

The ballroom at the Breakers faces the ocean.
The best dressed at the luncheon, including Rolise Rachel (c.)

The Duchess took center stage to share her journey with cancer and treatment modes. She was recently diagnosed with melanoma and previously had breast cancer. Fergie spoke from her heart, asking for prayers for her brother-in-law King Charles. She was a charming, brilliant speaker who made us laugh and cry.

The Duchess spoke about her work on behalf of children

Her life has been a roller coaster, doing great things and facing great embarrassments. She’s fought for children’s rights and fought declaring bankruptcy and went through the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. But she has fought back by writing children’s books and two autobiographies, producing TV shows and lecturing around the world. 

To the delight of all of us in attendance, she shared how the day before a British scientist had announced that they had discovered a new cure for prostate cancer! Everyone stood and cheered!

The Bernsteins at the Cancer Alliance luncheon
Carol Calicchio and her daughter, who donated a raffle gift for the luncheon
The Duchess with Max & Joseph McNamara & Janet Levy

As she showed slides talking about the breakthrough, Fergie’s humor about her life as a royal was remarkable. She shared that before the queen died, she told Fergie “you just be you.”

I was most impressed that she is bringing up her two daughters, Princess Beatrice, who has dyslexia, and Princess Eugenie, to live in the “real “world. On their 20th birthday, she even took them to a cancer ward for people their age.

After her talk, I had an opportunity to meet her, to have a personal second and to take a photo. Her vivacious, warm smile impressed me as she looked into my eyes and truly listened. She’s one of the very special people I’ve met during my stay in Florida.

Whispering in the Duchess of York’s ear

Another special person I met was Trish Gathers, president and CEO of The Carmelite System. One part of her mission is to see that the Carmelite nuns’ properties and convents that are not currently being used are sold to parties who will be mission driven. We also spoke about the Carmelites’ need to find employees who can further the mission of the caring nuns that they have had.

We got to talk about our “off” time and Trish shared with me that she has taken up painting with a teacher. I told her my friend Harvey Manes had given me a house warming gift of an easel, paints and canvases to paint the view from my house in the Hamptons, but that I still didn’t have a teacher. She shared that her teacher is from India and working remotely with her on Zoom! What a great solution to having a great teacher literally at your fingertips! I’m looking forward to getting back to the Hamptons to take those remote lessons! What a world!

With all that’s going on in our world nationally and internationally, moments of joy keep me on track and coping with those things I can affect, like next week, when my family will be coming south for the school break during President’s Week. Hooray!

I love you, my dear readers! Stay tuned for what’s next!

See and be seen

Philanthropist Judith Pope & a friend at the gala
Contessa Gallery owner Steve Hartman
Joan & David Genser, who is Palm Beach Opera’s board chair
The Hoffmans at the opera gala
Tim Quinn & Mark Turnipseed