From The New York Times:
Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis breezed through her 500-room German palace, keys in hand and a bracelet of rubies and a Virgin Mary charm on her wrist.
She stopped to admire the ornate chapel where her great-grandmother-in-law Crown Princess Helene had died in bed and where her friend Benedict XVI, the pope emeritus, once said Mass.
Then she headed down to the medieval cloister where she preferred to say her daily prayers.
In the crypt chapel, the diminutive, chatty and ebullient princess went silent as she removed her rose-tinted designer glasses, knelt in her Comme des Garçons pants on the upholstered kneeler and solemnly pressed her forehead against her laced fingers.
Colored light poured in through the six stained glass windows and onto the 58-year-old’s checked Yves Saint Laurent jacket as Msgr. Wilhelm Imkamp, a conservative prelate once touted by conservatives as a potential archbishop of Berlin, offered his lone parishioner communion.
The soles of her Hermes shoes — as white as the altar’s Carrara marble Jesus — faced the grating above the crypt where her deceased husband and his noble family’s ancestors lay in polished coffins.
“Amen,” she said.
Princess Gloria — once christened “Princess TNT” for her explosive years as a hard partying, art-collecting, punk-haired aristocrat — has grown into the sun queen around which many traditionalist Roman Catholics opposed to Pope Francis orbit. Her Regensburg castle is a potential “Gladiator School” for conservative Catholics on a crusade to preserve church traditions.
Her Roman palace overlooking the ancient forum is a preferred salon for opposition cardinals, bitter bishops and populists like Stephen K. Bannon. Many of them are hoping to use the sex abuse crisis that amounts to the greatest existential threat to the church in centuries to topple the 81-year-old pontiff, who they are convinced is destroying the faith.
Princess Gloria, who is close with Hillary Clinton, the former Vogue editor André Leon Talley and celebrities like Quincy Jones, rejected any suggestion that she was running a secret society out of her palaces, where she said she provided an open house in which a visitor could meet a “transvestite or a nun.”
She said she thought the pope was “trying his level best,” but added with a laugh, he just “doesn’t sing my favorite hits first.”