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Prince Amyn Aga Khan: "Chantilly is a real movie set"

Tuesday, 2017, May 23
pointdevue.fr (google translation)
The prince admires, with the chief gardener, Thierry Basset, the rose "Domaine de Chantilly", which will be presented officially
Fanny del Volta

He is one of the main actors of the Foundation for the preservation of the estate of Chantilly, created by his brother, the Aga Khan IV, in 2005. Anxious to make the place an essential cultural rendezvous, he transferred the legendary Plant Days, of which our magazine is a partner. Meeting with a nature lover.

It takes place in a lounge of the Auberge du Jeu de palm, which adjoins the gardens of the castle of Chantilly. Enjoys everything, his coffee that he will receive cold or his "modest level" in the six foreign languages ​​he speaks! When he evokes the domain, his gaze always sparkles but reveals above all the passions of an esthete. "Chantilly, it's art and culture!"

When did you discover the estate?

That was a long time ago, before the creation of the foundation. The buildings fascinated me. The large stables are exceptional. As for the castle, between its moat, its hodgepodge of turrets and its various architectural influences, it has a fairytale charm. I admire the garden of Le Nôtre, its spectacular bodies of water, its hamlet ... a real cinema decor.

You received an award for the successful transfer of the Journées des plantes, which were held at the Château de Courson in Essonne ...

It was so simple! My friend Patrice Fustier, owner of the domain of Courson, was a member of the board of directors of the Foundation for the safeguarding of Chantilly. His expertise in promoting the site has always been valuable to me. He and his wife thought that Plant Days was becoming too heavy. In two sentences, we decided to organize them in Chantilly. I love these appointments. I have been to Keukenhof in the Netherlands for many years. This bulb exhibition is unique and fantastic.

How did you start your involvement with the Chantilly Estate Backup Foundation?

Very naturally, my brother, the Aga Khan IV, asked me, notably to form the board of directors, composed of private and public partners. I also chair a cultural and event committee. The more events, such as temporary exhibitions, the more people will visit Chantilly.

How long have you been working with your elder brother?

Always! Thanks to our grandfather, the Aga Khan III. From an early age, we have represented him on many trips. After my studies at Harvard, I worked in the social and economic affairs of the United Nations. This experiment lasted three years. But it is difficult to see the fruit of its efforts in a bureaucratic structure. Then I thought that my brother needed me.

Does not your family relationship make it harder for you to work?

Our age difference is nine months minus one day. We are practically twin, and I must say that in our professional relationships, this creates a great deal of complicity.

When was your passion for plants born?

I have always been surrounded by people who loved nature, whether in England, with my mother and brothers and sisters, or in the South with my father. In the villa of Le Cannet, at my grandfather's, the staircase was an admirable rocaille. It gave the impression of a cascade of flowers gushing from the stones. Then in New York, in the house I was renting, there was a small garden that had been abandoned. I had fun recreating it. I did not have an urban childhood. In Nairobi, where I lived during the war with my parents, we had a garden. My father and I even planted rhubarb over the sewers. I learned that this plant loved it! She pushed, I do not tell you!

The horticulturist Delbard will unveil the rose "Domaine de chantilly", which you are the sponsor, during the forthcoming Journées des plantes. What does this specimen evoke you?

I like his nuances. At hatching, it is pink and paled to orange. It is not anything. It opens in a generous way into a ravishing shape. This rose, extremely fragrant, is also robust and long lasting ... all that one asks a flower.
The foundation received the management of the estate for twenty years. What will happen next?
The management will return to the Institut de France, owner of Chantilly. For now, we focus on restoring everything: buildings, works, parks and gardens. We will try to preserve the work undertaken by leaving the structures in place. Thanks to my brother, the advances have already been very fast. In the large gallery, all paintings and frames have been restored. The buildings, the canals of Le Nôtre ... the work accomplished is considerable.

Can you tell us about the Aga Khan Development Network, for which you are also working?

It is perhaps the most important private network in the world. It employs more than 80,000 people and represents a group of institutions working on the multiple input model: a development project that creates zones of activity for culture, education, health and the economy .

The Aga Khan Network has created numerous gardens ...

The best known is that of Cairo, consisting of a lake, an open-air theater, a playground. He replaced a vague undecidable land. Other gardens have since emerged in Mali, Canada, Afghanistan, and India. Where nature and culture marry, people's psychology improves.

Days of the plants of Chantilly, from May 19 to 21 2017.


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