Royal Watch

updated 08/02/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/02/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Prince and Princess of Wales made a show of togetherness at the July 15 funeral of Diana's grandmother Ruth, Lady Fermoy, but cynics suspected that the Prince's heart was elsewhere. Three days earlier he had been spotted shopping in Birmingham, where he ordered a velvet handbag and a vest festooned with red hearts. When designer Jacqueline Farrell asked whether she should make up the $180 vest in a svelte 34—Di's size—he said, "Oh, no, not too small." (Best friend Camilla Parker Bowles, of course, is bustier than Di.) Says Farrell: "It will be interesting to see who actually wears it."

On July 9, the Duchess of York told ITN News that seeing herself topless in the tabloids taught her the importance of "trying to control my spontaneity so I don't fall into the awful great big Pooh traps," like the honey pots that ensnared the greedy Winnie. Habit, however, dies hard. Three days later she was seen tooling about in a showy Jaguar XJS coupe. Shocked by a barrage of criticism, Fergie returned the $79,000 dream machine (which she had planned to lease) to the dealer. Said one source: "She knows she's got to be extra careful about her image—the trouble is, she still can't see how decisions like leasing a car are going to come across." She did, however, recognize the threat posed by ex-cook Simone Vanderpump, whose account of life at Sunninghill Park, the Berkshire estate the Duchess once shared with Prince Andrew, was bought by the Sunday Mirror. A lawyer reportedly hired by Fergie's guru, John Bryan, informed the paper on July 17 that Vanderpump had signed a contract promising to keep silent. The story was promptly scrapped.

What's a girl to do? Serena Stanhope, 23, the heiress set to wed Princess Margaret's son, Viscount Linley, on Oct. 8, is already being hounded by a scandal-hungry press. Old flame Alex Slack, 27, has served up some ungallant tales to the newspaper The People—spilling details about impassioned love letters and a red-hot rendezvous on her family's horse farm. As if that weren't enough, Serena has left her public-relations job at Armani in London amid reports that the designer was furious that she had chosen Valentino to design her wedding dress. Welcome to the family, Serena.

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