From one of Italy’s most noble families to breaking hearts on The Bachelor, PRINCE LORENZO BORGHESE is still a Jersey boy from Short Hills.
With the looks, charm and poise one would expect from genuine nobility—and make no mistake, this is the real deal—Prince Lorenzo Borghese first came into our collective consciousness six years ago as the love-seeking man in ABC’s hit television show, The Bachelor. The dashing Lorenzo was not only the grandson of famed glam-beautorian Princess Marcella Borghese, a formidable and impressive woman known mostly for the iconic beauty line bearing her name, Borghese, before selling to Revlon, but this prince was born á Italia with all the royal trimmings, papal titles and is a direct descendant of Napoleon. Here’s the rub: Prince Lorenzo Borghese is a Jersey boy raised in Short Hills, the prince next door.
Borghese isn’t what one expects—whatever that is, exactly—when speaking to a prince. He speaks eloquently, intelligently, but without a shred of pretense. The word that comes to mind is refreshing. With obvious global awareness and a distinct point of view, this Borghese isn’t a complacent, waffling, ascot-wearing country-clubber. Not by a long shot. I found Borghese to be polite, professional to a fault, well-spoken and not without street smarts. He’s a Harley-riding, animal rights activist, an entrepreneur—he’s a real person. I’m not sure why this surprised me, but the prince also descended from a hard-working family that has fought to rebuild lost fortunes more than once, particularly after World War II. The family has backbone.
But this prince is still made of flesh and bone as evidenced on The Bachelor as he elegantly broke young women’s hearts in front of a national television audience week in, week out. But for me, I can’t get past that incredible head of hair. When I connected with Prince Lorenzo Borghese for this HudsonMOD exclusive, I found the Manhattan resident relaxed and confident and, lucky us, in the mood to chat. So, yes, this prince raised in New Jersey, opens up as never before. Royally.
Although it could be materialistic, I see luxury as more a state of mind as when one feels overwhelmed in a positive way.
How did your grandmother, Princess Marcella Borghese, decide on New Jersey?
She actually didn’t—my parents did. After Milan, Paris and Connecticut, our family settled in New Jersey. My grandmother moved directly from Italy to Switzerland. After World War II, German troops had taken possession of many of our notable Borghese properties using them as military outposts, including artwork, valuables and items of historical value.
Were they eventually forced to give anything back?
Many possessions were pilfered. Although many landholdings were sold pre-war, historical landmark buildings that could be recovered were internally destroyed.
Was the Borghese family opposed to Princess Marcella’s Italian-Swiss citizenship and final move to Montreux, Switzerland?
We were always close and family came first. My grandmother was always present—every family event, birthday and holiday. She often made public appearances and high-end store presentations, nationally promoting the Borghese brand throughout the US, so we saw my grandmother pretty frequently.
As HudsonMOD’s beauty editor, I have to tell you that your grandmother was way ahead of her time manufacturing her signature skincare products from healing waters.
Yes. People would often frequent the Montecatini Spas (Terme), drinking the underground mineral waters used to cleanse their bodies, digestion and liver. It was found when soaking in the specialized sulphuric mineral waters, people could also heal their skin and muscle ailments.
Many might have considered Princess Marcella the independent woman of her time. Did she create Borghese Skincare out of post-war financial necessity?
Well, everyone thought that because my grandparents were born rich that there was no need to work. They worked hard. My grandfather Paolo Borghese went to work in the finest tailored suits, each stitched with the family crest. My grandmother was grande, always stylish and always hard-working. A famous quip from my grandmother goes, “I want my lips to match my clothing!”—and a skincare line was born.
Where did you go to high school?
I attended Pomfret Boarding School in Connecticut.
Was there any reaction from fellow students regarding your ancestry?
A lot of kids came from high profile, privileged families at Pomfret. They might ask if I was Italian or a prince. I’d reply “yes” and that was the end of it.
What was the best advice Princess Marcella ever gave you?
She taught me the importance of being social, even when you don’t want to be. Her goal was to be as social as possible. To her, happiness was about surrounding oneself with close friends and people who make you feel good, often entertaining loved ones and business associates beyond 2:30 in the morning. My grandmother was an incredible entertainer. Entertaining was a gift, an art form for her.
What’s your most vivid memory of your grandmother?
I have so many! My grandmother was always so vibrant and dressed so incredibly well her entire life, right through to the end of her life. In her final years she was living in a very elegant Swiss residential hotel that was also a hospital. After learning that her time had become suddenly limited, I quickly made the trip to see her. When I arrived—she wasn’t in her apartment. When I began to inquire, a staff member told me, “Your grandmother is waiting for you in the lower dining room” downstairs—which is reserved for a more formal occasion. I walked in to find my grandmother in full regalia—her finest clothing, hair done and her signature matching lipstick. That’s a moment I’ll never forget.
Although we didn’t discuss it, I knew then that my grandmother had dressed for her passing, an example that had been passed down through Princess Paulina Bonaparte Borghese (sister to Napoleon). I remember my grandmother telling me the same story—rules—she was told, on how Paulina was dressed to the nines, knowing it was the last day of her life.
Was there ever pressure for you to go into the family business of Borghese Cosmetics?
Well, no. By the time I’d graduated from college, Borghese Cosmetics had sold to Revlon, who later sold to a division of Halston and so on.
Tell me about The Bachelor.
My uncle, Winthrop Lewis, was good friends with Warner Bros. executives and asked if it was something I might be interested in. After a lot of thought, I gave the OK to throw my name in the hat. Within 24 hours there were a huge amount of phone calls and emails—tons of questions [Laughs]. They wanted headshots immediately, as I explained I was not an actor or a model and that I had little experience being in front of cameras professionally. By this time, so much was going through my mind.
On a balance, was The Bachelor experience a positive one?
Yes, absolutely. I made a lot of great friends and good contacts. Ultimately, I decided I would’ve rather had a bad experience than regretting later in life not having done The Bachelor. If I was fortunate enough to find new love and possibly a wife, I was very open to it. It also gave me the opportunity to promote what I also love—animals.
Were you ever asked to be part of the sexier spinoff, Bachelor Pad?
No, they didn’t ask [Laughs]. Well, they know I would have never agreed to go on that show. And I know we’re always supposed to refrain from saying never, but I would never—ever—do it [Laughs].
Are you currently seeing someone?
Yes, I’m currently involved in a special relationship. Unlike The Bachelor, I decided to keep this part of my life a little more private, in hopes of having greater success for us both.
When you were growing up, was there a staple Princess Marcella Borghese product that was part of the household?
Yes, of course. But my favorite was my grandmothers’ scent of Il Bacio parfum—I loved it so much that I gave a special bottle of it to my girlfriend I had dated for nine years for her 21st birthday. To this day, when I smell it, it induces a very special memory for me.
Do you return to Italy often?
A couple of times a year. My company, RoyalPetClub.com, manufactures its Royal Treatment Italian Pet Spa products on the outskirts of Tuscany. We also plan one large family trip a year to Italy, which you can imagine is always a lot of fun.
Ever thought about staying in Italy?
You know, my father took me on an Italy-wide tour of all the homes he or the Borghese family lived in. Their magnificence is tremendous. There are some regrets to not retaining or salvaging some of these homes. So, yes, eventually I’d like to spend more time in Rome or Tuscany.
What sparked the idea for the Royal Treatment Italian Pet Spa line?
Originally, I set out to cure my dog, Belle, from seriously dry skin and constant discomfort—a condition she started to develop after she turned five. Through my own endless research and some family contacts in manufacturing, I decided I was going to come out with my own product that could help Belle’s skin and hopefully help other pets with similar conditions. But it wasn’t an idea I originally planned on. The more I found out, the more I realized how harsh pet products could be. The FDA was much less strict than on people products. I was one of the first to include extremely moisturizing lipids such as 100 percent organic Italian honey, olive oil and almond oil before it was a trend.
What’s the one “must-have” product from your Royal Treatment line?
Just one? Perhaps the Organic Italian Virgin Olive Oil Shampoo—that’s a great one.
This is the 10th anniversary of your company. Where do you see your company next decade?
Currently, the product line is doing well in the US. I’d like to provide what I believe is the best pet product available and we’re working at being more international. So I’d say the company will be more global in the next ten years. We’re in talks with QVC United Kingdom and, possibly, Italy, and I’m hoping for the Shopping Channel in Canada as well.
You’re an animal rights activist?
I’m the president and co-founder of AnimalAidUSA.org. One of our primary goals is to put an end to the animal gas chamber, a form of euthanasia via carbon monoxide poisoning. We’re also big supporters of animals being spayed or neutered to avoid unwanted, homeless animals and offer several programs for those in need. If 30 percent of the population adopted a pet versus buying one, we could statistically adopt ourselves out of killing animals. The US would become a no-kill nation.