Oct. 19: Lauren Marbe, a 17-year-old schoolgirl from Essex, has an IQ higher than Albert Einstein.
Consequently she has been chosen to attend a high society debutantes’ ball in Paris.
This time last year, Lauren Marbe made a decision that would change her life. Along with other pupils from the top set at her school, the teenager from Loughton, Essex, had been asked to participate in an IQ test compiled by Mensa, the intelligence society.
It was the first time the school had run the test, which comprised a gruelling two-hour exam, and Lauren, mid-way through studying for 12 GCSEs, just wasn’t sure she could be bothered to do it.
“I remember deliberating with my mum in the kitchen the night before,” says Lauren, now 17. “I didn’t know if there was any point. I’d always got good grades but nothing to this extent. In the end I thought I might as well give it a go.” She grins. “If I’d had any idea what it would lead to, I’d never have thought twice.
What it led to was, first, an IQ result of 161 — ranking this ordinary Essex schoolgirl higher than Albert Einstein (had the test been around when he was alive), Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates. Not only did she get just one short of the maximum number of points awarded to those under 18, but she was invited to become a member of Mensa, which she admits she had “never really heard of before”.
“My teacher gave me the envelope with my results in it and I didn’t know it was a big thing,” she recalls. “I took it and said, ‘Alright Miss, thank you,’ and walked out. My mum was the same — she had no idea. My teacher had to ring up after school to explain what it all meant.”
The second outcome of Lauren’s IQ test came only this week — when she was invited by the organiser of the prestigious Le Bal in Paris to be one of 25 débutantes presented at the event next month. Lauren will join Lady Amelia Windsor, the granddaughter of the Duke of Kent, and John F Kennedy’s great-niece Kyra at the ball, which has been a French institution since 1922 and brings together high-achieving girls from some of society’s most notable families.
Her whole family — her parents and younger sister Grace — are travelling to Paris for the glittering event, whose past participants include Tallulah Willis (daughter of Bruce), Barbara Berlusconi (daughter of the former Italian Prime Minister) and the Ecclestone sisters.
She will be escorted by a dashing French “cavalier” (knight), and spend the evening surrounded by princesses and heiresses in the elegant ballroom of the Automobile Club on Place de la Concorde.
It is all, she says, “a bit like Cinderella”. Since being catapulted into the public eye, Lauren has received marriage proposals from strangers, been labelled a “brainy Barbie” in the press and had to fend off endless on-the-spot maths quizzes from friends. Yet she remains humble, down-to-earth and bemused by all the attention her brilliant brain has brought her.
“It’s mad, I know,” she blushes. “I’m at a different school now and not many of my teachers know about it — I feel a bit awkward bringing it up.”