Some, unlike the Chronicler, are too polite to say anything about it, but important Washington benefactors are increasingly distressed by what benefit participant Jayne Ikard calls the "multi-tiered" occasion, and what the London organizers of the Oct. 4 Princess Di affair called the "two-tent" event.
The bawl is not over on the subject.
To recap: At this party, literally under two tents in the Departmental Auditorium, the cost was $2,500 ("silver" donors) to go to the party and $3,500 ("gold" donors) to Shake the Hand of Herself. The profits, whatever they might be (no one will say yet), were to go to the London Ballet, the Washington Ballet and Grandma's House for AIDS babies.
One local professional party-planning organization had intended to do the party pro bono, but declined after meeting the members of the London contingent, characterizing them as "the most arrogant people I ever met."
The British organizers, apparently in the belief that the American colonies had no little ball chairs, flowers, food or party planners, flew the necessities over on the Concorde from London.
Washington Princess Di-ophiles (private and professional) begged the organizers not to charge such outlandish ticket prices (the Brits claimed that a "little bird" told them such prices could be extracted from Washingtonians).
By all reports, the organizers did not tell the local committee -- or Princess Di -- that Princess Di's hand was to be given only to the hands holding what were called "gold" tickets.
After protests over the gaucherie of it all were issued publicly and only half of the expected tickets were sold, a happy ending for some, at least, came when Lady Acland, wife of the British ambassador, interceded and all guests were able to be blessed by the royal touch.
Mrs. Ikard said the Princess Di party only brought to a boiling point complaints about ticket prices that had been steaming for some time.
Evangeline Bruce, who is universally regarded on both sides of the Atlantic as the epitome of elegance, says she considers that offending local standards in any society, is "graceless and terrible. What is appropriate varies from city to city. Those prices were not acceptable in Washington, and many would not wish to be seen paying them."
Mrs. Bruce said she has no quarrel with events where people can choose, according to their time and money, to go to reasonably distinct party units, such as a movie and/or the party after, and donate accordingly. "Food is expensive for the charity to provide. After all, you wouldn't want to eliminate people who would be able to make a smaller donation and still go to the central event."
Mrs. Ikard believes the differentiation in prices may have originated with political fund-raisers, where if you make a certain "gift" you get not only a greeting from the candidate but also a picture of yourself with the personage.
However it started, Mrs. Ikard has her own reaction. "When the invitation came to the Princess Di event, I put it in the wastebasket as fast as if it were burning my hand."
Mrs. Bruce said that the real offense is making an obvious show of separating the guests into sheep and goats. Mrs. Ikard pointed out that it isn't always a ticket price that separates guests at a party into VIPs and VUIPs (Very Unimportant Persons).
One horror story happened to a former Cabinet member, now a business executive, when at a certain event he anted up for a table for 10. He and his wife invited, among others, the secretary of state (never mind which one). The secretary was invited to the VIP reception, but not his hosts, who sat at their table, feeling forlorn. Another story is told of a Baltimore dinner where diners were seated in different rooms, according to their donations.
It hasn't yet come to the point where it takes $1,000 to walk through the front door, $1,500 to go through the receiving line, $2,000 to eat the canapes, $2,500 to sit down at the dinner and $3,000 to say goodbye to the VIPs -- but any day now.
Say, what about an option of $4,000 to stay at home?