Lady Monica Heftler and Princess Omara

Royalty Comes to Carpaccio in the Bal Harbour Shops

By Alice Fisher

Meet Lady Monica Heftler and Princess Omara, her white Maltese baby. Monica especially likes Carpaccio because of its excellent service, food and ambiance—and since they have outdoor seating she can bring Princess Omara, who dined obsessively on bread and butter, while we humans imbibed martinis and assorted entrees.

Monica Heftler is a lady... officially. WHEW! That’s a relief. Monica was knighted in Rome this October by the Order of the Hospitaller Knights of Saint John of Rhodes and Malta, the oldest existing knightly order in the world. It began with the Crusades and was founded in 1048.

Although Monica is very proud of her new title, she takes it tongue-in-cheek and is having lots of fun with it, especially enjoying the reaction from those nay-sayers who secretly covet the title. But let those who are jealous be jealous, because Monica has earned her praise. In order to receive this honor, one must be a major philanthropist -- especially with children’s organizations – and not just at home, but all over the world.

Monica is a Platinum Angel at Jackson Memorial Foundation and a big contributor to many more local charities, including Project Newborn. This March she will be one of the women honored by the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at a spectacular event to be held at the Bal Harbour Shops. Internationally, Monica is a major player in the Lech Walesa Fund in Poland, Galapagos Fund in Ecuador, Innocence in Danger in Germany, World Association of Children’s Friends in Monaco, Doctors without Borders in Switzerland, The American Red Cross and Inter-American Economic Council in Washington D.C.

Friendship and family are paramount to Monica. She has many acquaintances and a small inner circle of friends with whom she travels the world. Her favorite spot: Monte Carlo, in the summer, where she attends balls and hobnobs with international celebrities.

Glamorous and grand, our fine Lady Monica also has an uncanny knack of judging people, a talent that she inherited from her mother. “She could tell the good from the bad even if she couldn’t understand the language they spoke,” says Monica. “I learned to always trust my gut and it has never failed me.”

Her gut was certainly on-the-money when it came to choosing a husband. Herbert Heftler was one of the nation’s leading developers and the love of Monica’s life. When they met, she was applying for a job to be his secretary. The interview went something like this:

     Herbert: Can you type?
     Monica: No.
     Herbert: Can you file?
     Monica: No.
     Herbert: You’re perfect!

And they were best friends for more than 30 years. “I loved his sense-of-humor more than anything,” she says with a smile.

When Herbert died six-years ago, instead of the traditional funeral, Monica threw a gala party to celebrate his life. This lavish act drew criticism from some, but anyone who truly knew Herbert would agree that the affair was exactly what he would have wanted.

In fact, Monica and Herbert were known for holding some outrageous—and always fun—parties. But since Herbert died, Monica has not thrown any parties. “It’s not easy for a single woman to give a party,” she says.

But Monica finally decided that it was time to let loose and throw a fabulous party to celebrate her new title. The affair was at the Forge and featured a relative who’s who of Miami society. In true Monica fashion, an enormous and unapologetic video of her knighting ceremony was broadcast on the exterior wall of an adjacent building. It was quite a spectacle indeed.

So after becoming a lady, what’s next for Monica? “My last page is not yet written,” she says. “I have many many pages left. For now, I want good health and good friends. The rest is just background.”