It's a noble affair at the Whole Child International Gala in Beverly Hills
By Ellen Olivier
Oct 27, 2017 | 6:40 PM
It’s not every day that someone can buy a copy of the eulogy, printed in a limited edition of 100, that Charles Spencer delivered at his sister Princess Diana’s funeral 20 years ago. Yet at the Whole Child International Gala, guests had the opportunity as well as a chance to bid on a weekend for 20 at Althorp, the 90-room, 550-acre U.K. home of the Spencer family for more than 500 years.
The inaugural benefit for Whole Child International, hosted by Spencer and his wife, Karen (the Earl and Countess Spencer), also featured Anthony Kiedis and Josh Klinghoffer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers to end the evening on a high note. Held Thursday at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the black-tie affair raised funds to improve the lives of orphaned, abandoned, abused and neglected children in developing nations.
Magnolia trees lined the softly lighted ballroom, where a 12-piece orchestra and two vocalists provided background music during dinner. And just so guests knew in advance that this would be a special night, invitations came sealed in wax and imprinted with the Royal Seal of the House of Spencer. In a conversation during the cocktail reception, Karen Spencer said she retrieved the official seal from the vaults at Althorp and then personally stamped each envelope.
Ken Robinson, author of “The Element,” served as emcee for an audience that included British Consul General Michael Howells, Angie Harmon (“Rizzoli and Isles”), comedian Shelby Chong, Tommy Chong of Cheech & Chong, Shohreh Aghdashloo (“X-Men: The Last Stand”), Renee Olstead (“Still Standing”), Nathalia Ramos (“House of Anubis”), Catherine Bach (“Dukes of Hazzard”) and more.
From onstage, Charles Spencer, the ninth Earl Spencer and uncle of Prince William and Prince Harry, introduced his wife, saying that they’d met on a blind date. “Straightaway we hit it off,” he said, before adding, jokingly, “Of course, she’s very unfortunate-looking but I overlooked that.”
Continuing, he said, “This is not a pity story, but my mother actually left home when I was 2. And I was brought up by a series of very up-and-down caregivers, and so when [Karen] said she believed in this whole concept … of connection, I was really taken by her.”
Earlier in the evening, Karen Spencer, Whole Child International’s founder and chief executive, said: “Our real focus is on children and making sure they get the level of care they need to go on to become productive members of society. What we’ve found in developing countries is a lack of access to the latest knowledge in terms of what we know children need.
“Science tells us about brain development, but what does it tell us about the importance of constant relationships in children’s lives?” she continued. “At the end of the day, what really matters is that interaction and that connection with the child, whether it’s in a child care center or in an orphanage or in foster care.”
“Let’s rock,” announced Kiedis, as he and Klinghoffer launched into their set, consisting of “Can’t Stop,” “Californication” and “By the Way.” Said the Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman between songs, “I just have to get something off my chest, which is that I think all of you are awesome for being here,” and in a shout-out to the night’s hostess, added, “Karen Spencer is a scientist making the world a better place — a scientist of the orphanage.”
Although total proceeds are not yet available, tickets began at $500 each with tables ranging up to $100,000. Two copies of the eulogy sold, one for $20,000 and the other for $25,000; and the Althorp weekend for $200,000.
For the Record
A previous version of this story said two copies of the eulogy that Charles Spencer delivered at his sister Princess Diana’s funeral sold for $20,000 each during the Whole Kid International Gala. One copy sold for $20,000, and another copy sold for $25,000.
This story was originally published at 1:15 p.m. Oct. 27, 2017.
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