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'MISTRESS BUSINESS'

Astor's Late in Life Gaffes

Not exactly the behavior of a grande dame of New York’s social world: Brooke Astor told Camilla Parker Bowles that her great-grandmother would be proud of her for continuing on in the “mistress business.” "Your grandmother would have been proud of you," Astor, 101 at the time, told her at a welcome party she helped organize for Bowles. “You're keeping this mistress thing in the family. Two generations providing mistresses!" A confused Astor had her generations wrong: it was Bowles’ great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, who was the best-known mistress of Edward the VII, while Parker Bowles was famously Prince Charles’ mistress. Prosecutors argued on Monday that Astor had Alzheimer’s when her son wrangled a reported $60 million from her, since her once impeccable social graces were failing so fast. Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation, also testified that Astor insulted Catherine Zeta-Jones at the same party by remarking loudly that she was wearing an inappropriate dress.

May 18, 2009 3:12 PM