Would Prince Andrew find a Cinderella in Hollywood? That was the premise waiting for a script during His Royal Highness' four-day stay in Los Angeles to promote British exports and raise funds for the British Olympic team. There were many candidates, but none really caught the royal eye until the Prince attended a celeb-strewn bash at Michael Caine's home. The gorgeous starlet wearing the glass slipper was none other than Noelle Williams, daughter of entertainer Andy Williams, 56, and Claudine Longet, 42.
Though the 24-year-old Prince and the 20-year-old Noelle spent some of the night socializing, their mutual interest became clear the following evening at a glittering affair in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. There, Prince Andrew took the occasion of a dinner speech to make a remark about a note from a mysterious young lady, adding, "I'll see her afterward." A guest noted, "There is no doubt to whom that comment was directed—and it did seem she had been seated to be directly in his line of sight." At a private party following the main event Noelle had Andrew to herself in a corner, and when the last guests retired to the private suite of Embassy Pictures' chief Jerry Perenchio at 2:45 a.m., the couple was still together. Noelle's father was delighted. "I wouldn't mind having a prince as a son-in-law," allowed Andy Williams.
Chatter in the press about his other amours has riled the Prince, who seemed testier than usual around the reporters he needed to publicize British wares. During his first official speech to the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce, Andrew irritated British reporters by calling their papers "rags." He blurted "Wait your turn" to another zealous snapper at a reception two nights later. During a tour of a model housing project in Watts, Andrew was shown a compressor paint sprayer, tested it and then aimed the spray at members of the press, whose clothes and equipment were soon showered with white paint. As he walked away Andrew declared, "I really enjoyed that." But he later claimed it was an accident and apologized. Damages were estimated at $20,000.
At a fund raiser the next day attended by subjects Dudley Moore and Julie Andrews, among others, emcee Michael Caine, at the Prince's request, tried to defuse the situation by quipping to the royal guest of honor, "I understand you also do exteriors. Can you do my cabana tomorrow?" It was a somber Andrew who flew back to London on Thursday. At home he'll have some explaining to do to Mum, who will get a full report of the visit.
The Prince apparently pleased one party: Noelle. "He's very handsome," she says smiling. "They exchanged phone numbers," her singer dad crooned to a friend. "I know they plan to see each other again. If she calls the palace, she'll have no trouble getting through."