Her husband and Prince Dimitri’s stepfather, Prince Michel of Bourbon-Parme, is too infirm to travel, the prince explains.
“My mother didn’t come to Palm Beach this year. My stepfather is the love of her life, and she stayed with him in Paris. She’s too heartbroken to come alone to Palm Beach,” he says.
“She’s decided to sell and remember her times there as many good memories.”
The four-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bath house — with 4,843 square feet of living space, inside and out — is listed for sale for $3.9 million by agent Crista Fanjul Ryan of Tina Fanjul Associates Real Estate.
His mother and stepfather bought the Midtown house in 1994 and made improvements to their liking. This was their second home on the island, the prince says.
The late actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr. invited his mother and stepfather to visit in the 1970s, he recounts, and, soon after, they bought the house next to Fairbanks, who lived at the Vicarage.
“He was an old family friend,” the prince recalls. “Grandmother’s sister, the Duchess of Kent, was friends with him before the war, and then he became friends with my grandmother, Princess Olga, and then friends with my mother and stepfather.”
At that time, the prince was at college, and he and his siblings spent holidays at the house.
“I moved to New York in 1983, but I went there a lot, and a few of my brothers and sisters lived there as well. Between my mother and my stepfather, there are nine of us. But little by little, everybody went back to live in Europe, and their house became too big and too empty,” he says.
That’s how his mother and stepfather came to live in the house on Pendleton Avenue, several blocks north of Royal Palm Way. Designed by noted society architect John L. Volk in 1952, it’s a traditional-style Colonial home — with two stories and a white-brick exterior — overlooking the Breakers Golf Course.
Anchoring the straightforward floor plan, the formal foyer and circular stairway are at the front center of the house, with the living room to the west and the library to the east. The family room lies to the north and to its east is the kitchen, which accesses the garage and staff quarters.
Upstairs, a central landing leads to the master suite and three guest-bedroom suites. There’s a balcony off the master bathroom.
Features include hardwood floors throughout, a fireplace in the living room and sliding-glass doors in the loggia that open to a covered patio. Outside, the pool and fountain are set in a fenced-in garden with mature trees and tropical landscaping.
As an expert on gemstones, the prince says he would equate this house to the Golconda diamond.
“Why not? Those diamonds are the most sought after,” he quips. “This house is a lovely house, and almost all the rooms are corner rooms with two exposures and lots of light.
“It’s incredibly cozy and comfortable, and its most important feature is its charm. It’s the kind of place where you are happy to be, even in bad weather.”
His mother had a pleasant life with many friends in Palm Beach, and over the years, she has hosted a list of notables in her homes, he says.
“Queen Sirikit of Thailand would come to see her. Princess Margaret visited, as well as the king and queen of Romania, the grand duchess of Luxembourg, and my grandmother, the queen of Italy. Astronaut Edgar Mitchell was an old friend, too.”
When she first toured the house 23 years ago, his mother saw its potential immediately, the prince recalls.
“She and my stepfather renovated it, and she’s good at decorating. She thought it was perfect, exactly what she wanted, and well built with lovely proportions.”