Blonde Ambition: This year's crop of debutantes came out at the Queen Charlotte's Birthday Ball on Monday. Emma Forrest polished her social graces and cut along, only to find that she was the right age but the wrong face

The Independent photographer points to the girls he has just photographed for our cover, looks me over and says sternly, 'I'd take your jacket off before you speak to them, if I were you.'

As I'm struggling out of my brown suede overcoat with the off-white fake fur collar, Lady Cecilia Jocelyn approaches me.

'Oh, I love your jacket, my friend has one just like it.'

Lady Cecilia stands out. Most of the 28 debs are thin and busty with tumbling blonde locks and piggy noses - in fact they look disappointingly like white trash. But Lady C is elegant and serene. She's one of those blondes who look as if they were meant to be brunette - like Tuesday Weld, Ellen Barkin, Uma Thurman. She is also extremely pleasant. I suppose true aristocrats feel at ease with anyone. If you've got everything, you have no one to be jealous of. I begin to feel guilty about my scuffed black boots, which were intended as a spirited two fingers up to the establishment but which, in the light of Cecilia's friendliness, are starting to look like scuffed black boots.

'You should see us in the mornings. We troop in in our boots and jeans and we are very reluctant to take them off,' soothes Cecilia. 'I suppose we are used . . . to attract attention for charity.'

It is all for charidee, well-dressed ladies keep reminding me, like finishing school-educated Smashies and Nicies. Indeed it is - for an NHS hospital no less.

I meet reluctant deb Carina in the lavatories, who is again stupidly pretty and very friendly. She is a gamine Jean Seberg type and I tell her I love her haircut.

'Oh, thanks. They all call me helmet head.' And she toddles away clutching a packet of Silk Cut.

Down in the lobby a heavily pregnant Ulrika Jonsson is descending the staircase. 'I was supposed to walk the Channel Tunnel for the hospital, but I sustained an injury to my back.' Right. 'So I'm here instead.' Uh-huh. 'I'm here to observe. It's not something we have in Sweden.' Yup, they don't even have a class system there, the Swedes are that dull.

'Oh, look,' says the PR girl to the photographers. 'There's Sandra Dickinson]' No one looks. No one can quite remember who Sandra Dickinson is, although the fact that she is wearing a stars and stripes ballgown suggests that she is probably American.

Then the press are led away to eat from a trough, while the knobs feast on caviar. No, it's not that bad, but we do have to endure each other's company rather than that of the ravishing debs. Those of us who aren't deeply dull are deeply juvenile.

I and the man from another paper lean over the railings as the debs line up on the staircase. 'She's quite attractive.' He points at a blonde Julia Roberts type. There is a woman at a table below us wearing a plunging strapless dress. She has, quite simply, The Cleavage That Ate Cleveland. As the debs descend the staircase, the man from another paper is shouting, 'I can't get over her tits]' This doesn't calm the nerves of Miss Claudia Van Der Werff, who mimes vomiting into the dress of the girl in front of her.

Countess Bianca Vidaeff will later tell me that where you stand in the queue depends on who you know. Bianca is wearing a dress by Vivienne Westwood and a huge hairpiece of blonde and brown intertwined dreadlocks (bad enough on white people, let alone rich white people). Bianca is going to study Equine Science at Warwickshire College of Agriculture. Her right eye flicks closed as she talks, like Prunella Scales. I think she is pissed, but she might just be posh. 'There has been sniping backstage. I'm not trying to outdo anyone. I'm just trying to make a change,' she pipes, patting her hairpiece. Then she goes off to snog her boyfriend for the cameras.

The undoubted belle of the Ball is special guest, Valerie Campbell, who not only looks about 12 years old, but manages to make her daughter, Naomi, look fat and ugly. Consciously or not, she also does her best to refute the debs' claims that they are just normal teenagers. 'A lot of these girls have been away at boarding school and it's a good way of entering back into society,' she nods, approvingly.

After the procession down the staircase, the debs dance a Viennese waltz with their spotty counterparts. Lady Cecilia glides off the dance floor to meet me. 'Nicky. It is Nicky, isn't it?' Damn. Why isn't my name Nicky? She apologises in case she said anything wrong to me earlier and takes off her white satin pumps to show me the rings on her toes. By now, the debs' parents are dancing to a big band playing 'Love Is All Around' and I decide it's time to leave.

The last thing I hear is Mrs Bunty Lewis congratulating the chef who took six months creating the Queen Charlotte's birthday cake. 'A round of applause for the cake, as it moves away from the dance floor.' The cake moved beautifully.

This year's crop of debutantes came out at the Queen Charlotte's Birthday Ball on Monday. Emma Forrest polished her social graces and cut along, only to find that she was the right age but the wrong face

(Photographs omitted)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

    £13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

    Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

    £19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future