EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Duchess of Kent makes rare public appearance
EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Portrait hits the right note as the Duchess of Kent makes rare public appearance with her husband
The reclusive Duchess of Kent made a very rare public appearance with her husband this week, on the 62nd anniversary of their wedding.
Katharine joined her husband, the Duke, a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth, at St James’ Palace, where a portrait of her was unveiled by her daughter, Lady Helen Taylor, 59, after a concert by the Future Talent group.
The Duchess founded the group with Nicholas Robinson to help young people and those from low-income families to discover music.
The portrait was painted by Future Talent alumnus Rob Burton, 23, an award-winning saxophonist and BBC Young Musician finalist.
‘It is an incredible honour to paint the portrait of someone who has played such an important part in my development,’ Burton tells me.
EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Katharine joined her husband, the Duke, a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth, at St James’ Palace, where a portrait of her was unveiled by her daughter, Lady Helen Taylor (left), 59, after a concert by the Future Talent group
EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: The portrait was painted by Future Talent alumnus Rob Burton, 23, an award-winning saxophonist and BBC Young Musician finalist
‘The Duchess of Kent has made a tremendous contribution to the support of young musicians like me for almost 20 years, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to give something back to her in this way.’
The concert was organised as a belated celebration of the Duchess’s 90th birthday in February. Sweetly, her husband asked that it was performed on their wedding anniversary.
It is thought to have been the Duchess’s first public engagement with her husband since she attended the wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank in 2018. She stepped back from royal duties in 2002, while her husband continues to be a working member of the Royal Family.
The Duchess did not attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth last year, nor the coronation of King Charles in May.
A lifelong music lover, the Duchess was once a music teacher at Wansbeck Primary school in East Hull, where she also conducted a choir.
There, she was first inspired to set up Future Talent. The charity is currently benefiting from a match-funding campaign as part of The Big Give’s Champions for Children fundraising in June, with donations going towards supporting young musicians from low-income backgrounds in London.
The host of Thursday’s event was Pointless presenter Alexander Armstrong.
Things are moving at breakneck pace at Pratt’s, the gentlemen’s club where, until last month, little had changed since its foundation in 1857.
Now, just a fortnight after I disclosed the London club would welcome women, I can reveal the name of the first up for membership: former home secretary Amber Rudd. ‘She’s been proposed and it’s due to go through imminently,’ an admirer tells me.
Rudd, 59, who resigned as home secretary in 2018 after ‘inadvertently’ misleading the Home Affairs Select Committee, recently spoke about coping with ‘traumatic life experiences’.
She’ll surely have soothing words for Pratt’s old boys, who use the club as a refuge from their wives.
Quote of the week
‘Here’s hoping my lovely surgeon isn’t a Guardian reader’
Outspoken TV presenter Laurence Fox, the scourge of Lefties, prepares to undergo surgery for an unspecified condition at an NHS hospital.
The smart set’s talking about… Annabel’s anniversary bash
In her lustrous youth, she gave her name to what became arguably the chicest nightclub in the world.
But on Thursday Lady Annabel Goldsmith resisted the temptation to look in on the celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of Annabel’s, the Berkeley Square club founded by her first husband, Mark Birley.
Instead, she headed to a bash at Sotheby’s, where she posed for this selfie with her daughter-in-law, Jemima, wife of Ben, her younger son by her second marriage to the late billionaire Sir Jimmy Goldsmith.
Then Annabel, 89 tomorrow, went on to what I’m told was a ‘small family get-together’ at Oswald’s, one of the Mayfair clubs run by Robin, her surviving son by Birley.
Earlier this week, Annabel told me that it had been ‘really sweet’ of Richard Caring, who bought Annabel’s and Mark Birley’s other clubs for £100 million in 2007, to invite her to his party.
But perhaps even she might have struggled to keep up with Sir Rod Stewart, pictured leaving the bash with wife Penny — whom, I trust, he serenaded with his hit, Baby Jane: ‘Now you’re moving in high society…’
EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Instead, she headed to a bash at Sotheby’s, where she posed for this selfie with her daughter-in-law, Jemima, wife of Ben, her younger son by her second marriage to the late billionaire Sir Jimmy Goldsmith
EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: But on Thursday Lady Annabel Goldsmith resisted the temptation to look in on the celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of Annabel’s, the Berkeley Square club founded by her first husband, Mark Birley
Fiance’s worries over Amy biopic
Amy Winehouse’s final boyfriend, Reg Traviss, is dreading the release of Sam Taylor-Johnson’s much-anticipated biopic about the tragic pop star.
‘It’ll be difficult for me to watch,’ film director Traviss tells me at a party in West London. ‘It will be tough seeing the bad parts of Amy’s life being played out on screen.’
He was engaged to the Back To Black singer when she died of alcohol poisoning in 2011, aged 27.
He adds: ‘As far as I’m aware, no one will be playing me in the film because the script finishes before we met.’
The curtain will come down for the final time at the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool, whose striking interior has been used in countless films and TV shows.
The closure, at the end of this month, follows a decision by the city council to end its financial support for the former music hall, established before World War I.
The theatre was named after Beatles manager Brian Epstein in 1997.
Wouldn’t it be fab if the Mop Tops’ Sir Paul McCartney or Sir Ringo Starr stepped in to save it?
Evergreen Dame Joan Collins, who turned 90 last month, never looks less than glamorous.
But the actress’s son, Alexander ‘Sacha’ Newley, is determined she should put comfort before style.
‘For her birthday, I got her a wonderful, beautiful and very expensive fluffy robe because I like to see when she lounges around,’ the artist tells me the launch for his book, Divining The Human: The Art Of Alexander Newley, at the Polish Hearth Club in London. ‘I like to keep her comfortable.’
Emma and new beau’s Venice larks
Harry Potter star Emma Watson appears to be casting her spell far and wide.
The actress, 33, who played Hermione Granger in the films, is pictured frolicking in Italy with British businessman Ryan Kohn, 40. Educated at Leeds University, the co-founder of snack brand Propercorn gave beaming Watson a piggyback.
The pair then boarded a taxi boat at Venice Lido. ‘They looked like a pair of loved-up teenagers,’ an onlooker tells me.
Last weekend, she was pictured in Venice with U.S. businessman Ryan Walsh. She is said to have split up in May with Brandon Green, son of retail billionaire Sir Philip.
She has previously complained about her experiences with English men. ‘I’m used to being ignored for the first two months,’ she said. ‘And then maybe they’ll acknowledge my presence. Then they’ll probably be a little mean to me.’
EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Harry Potter star Emma Watson appears to be casting her spell far and wide. The actress, 33, who played Hermione Granger in the films, is pictured frolicking in Italy with British businessman Ryan Kohn, 40
Chord struck for Anna’s girl
Marcella star Anna Friel played a singer in country music drama Monarch — and she appears to have struck a chord with her daughter.
Gracie, 17, whose father is actor David Thewlis, has spoken of her own musical ambitions.
‘I write a lot of songs with the guitar and I’m getting better the older I get,’ she tells the Crazy Sexy Food podcast. Anna says: ‘Her music is really good — it makes me cry.’
Marcella star Anna Friel played a singer in country music drama Monarch — and she appears to have struck a chord with her daughter
She had to put up with suspicious locals, sneering putdowns and four children marooned on a building site, but Sarah Beeny has, I can disclose, finally won planning permission to convert barns on her controversial ‘mini Downton Abbey’ farm into five homes.
The Property Ladder star, 51, has also been contending with a gruelling round of chemotherapy as she battles breast cancer.
She and her husband, Graham Swift bought the 220-acre former dairy farm for just over £3 million in 2018, as detailed in the Channel 4 show New Life In The Country.
However, locals complained about their development every step of the way, including objections to the alleged blocking of footpaths and building of a lake.
(Very) modern manners
Martha Sitwell is often invited to bring a ‘plus-one’ to most parties, but the model took an unwelcome guest to the Nobu hotel in Mayfair this week.
The former ‘face’ of Royal Ascot was ejected from an event after staff realised she had smuggled in her recently adopted pet — a magpie she’s called Hecate. ‘I had to go outside and feed her, then they saw me and said, ‘You can’t come back with a bird’ ‘ Lady Sitwell, pictured with the bird, tells me.
She was given Hecate, named after an ancient Greek goddess, by a gun owner in Chester last weekend. ‘Black cabbies are very nice about it,’ she says, adding: ‘People try very hard not to stare at me.’
Martha Sitwell is often invited to bring a ‘plus-one’ to most parties, but the model took an unwelcome guest to the Nobu hotel in Mayfair this week
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