The Rake


Source: Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenburg alongside his wife Ira von Fürstenberg, circa 1950s.

I was very much in with high society, what one would call the ‘jet set’, although I have never owned a jet — but I did have three aeroplanes for cargo. I also had an interest in aviation and had three pilot’s licences: Spanish, Austrian and Mexican.”

The other day I came across a sheaf of transcripts of interviews I conducted with the fabled founder of the Marbella Club, Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe, in late 2001. The lines above were picked from these yellowing typed sheets almost at random. I could have chosen the anecdote about a 16-hour journey on a special train to Portsmouth with Churchill during the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, at which — naturally — he enjoyed special treatment as a favoured guest because the head of his family had married Prince Philip’s sister. Or the one about brushing up his tennis as a youngster with Fred Perry. “I had the luck… I was very young… to play with some of the best players in the world,” Alfonso said. Or the one about negotiating a favourable oil deal for Spain thanks to his friendship with the Saudi royal family.

After all, he had got to see some of the 20th century’s greatest dealmakers up close. There was the time he went on a boat trip with Aristotle Onassis and heard about a million-dollar deal (in the days when a

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