Talk about design royalty! India Hicks counts Lady Pamela Hicks and the late legendary interior designer David Hicks as her parents, and yet Princess Diana's former bridesmaid has carved out a life irrepressibly her own - as model, TV presenter, tastemaker and author. It's the latter that brought Prince Charles' goddaughter to Toronto's Teatro Verde, where we caught up as she launched her latest book, India Hicks: A Slice of England.
The publication is essentially a memoir told through the prisms of the four houses she’s called home in the U.K. It's peppered with stories from her exceptional life, like the time she had a sleepover at Kensington Palace with Princess Margaret and Carolina Herrera, who penned the forward to India's book. And while the mother of five is technically an heir to the throne herself - 679th at last count! - India is looking to the next generation of royals and newest member Meghan Markle for "fantastic things" to come.
The 50-year-old opened up about riding in royal carriages, how her dad coloured her new book and living on a remote island below...
Carolina Herrera wrote the forward to your book, how did that come to be?
Carolina is someone to me who’s always represented a kind of timeless elegance, but yet she is - to me, anyways - a brand that always seems fresh and on-point. [The designer received a Lifetime Achievement at the CFDA Awards, most recently]. She’s an amazing woman. We go back, it’s true - the night before Charles and Diana’s wedding, when I was meant to go back to my parents’ house, but London was a mess, so much gridlock, so Princess Margaret said to me, 'why don’t you come stay with me at Kensington Palace?' Carolina was staying there, too. So, we all had dinner together that night.
Was Princess Margaret as fun as she always seemed?
She was definitely a character.
Having been in a royal wedding, what did you think about Prince Harry and Meghan's big day?
I loved that Meghan walked down the aisle by herself at the wedding - before Charles took her for that last bit. I love a woman who stands on her two feet. I think they’re going to do fantastic things together, going forward.
What's it really like to ride in a royal carriages?
I’ve only really been in one [India rode back to Buckingham Palace after Princess Diana and Prince Charles's wedding in a horse-drawn glass coach], but all I can remember is how terribly allergic my fellow bridesmaid [Catherine Cameron] was. She was quite young and my main memory of riding in the carriage is of her blowing her little nose.
How did your father's advice colour your new memoir?
[He always said] the test of a good garden is how it looks in the winter - I talk about that in the book. Also: my father [a virtuoso of colour who designed the bowling alley at the White House and several rooms at Windsor Castle] always impressed on me this, as a basic rule: ‘Decorating is the art of accentuating the best and covering up the worst.’
Your primary abode is on Harbour Island in the Bahamas. Any challenges that come with island living?
If the boat doesn’t come, you don’t get milk.
Tell us about your latest home...
It was a big challenge creating this new house [in Oxfordshire]. We even had to wait until the birds and bees stopped mating - because of the very specific zoning laws in that part of the countryside.
Where does your beautiful name come from?
I was named India because my grandfather [Lord Mountbatten] was the last viceroy of India.
How do you juggle so many things at once?
It helps that I’m a Virgo!