Stuck for holidays? What about a break yards from the Queen's house
EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Stuck for holiday ideas? What about a break just yards from Queen Camilla’s country house to which she retreats for respite from the public eye…
Perhaps you missed out on an invitation to the Coronation, or long ago abandoned hope of being asked to a Buckingham Palace garden party — or of being bidden there to receive an MBE or other gong?
But don’t despair: very soon indeed, you’ll be able to holiday with Queen Camilla — not, quite, in an adjoining room, but a yard or two from the country house to which she retreats for a respite from the relentless toll of life in the public eye.
For I can reveal that her neighbour, who shares a private drive with Camilla, has just been given permission to use one of his outbuildings as a holiday cottage.
This is, I fear, likely to dismay the Queen, who has always seen handsome, Grade II-listed Ray Mill House, which has enviable views of the River Avon in Wiltshire, as a place of complete sanctuary.
Indeed, on a previous occasion, when her neighbour applied to build a ‘granny flat’, she enlisted assistance from Charlie Craven, the estate manager at Highgrove, King Charles’s Gloucestershire residence, in her battle against the proposal.
This is, I fear, likely to dismay the Queen. Pictured: Queen Camilla at a garden party this month
She has always seen handsome, Grade II-listed Ray Mill House (pictured), which has enviable views of the River Avon in Wiltshire, as a place of complete sanctuary.=
Craven wrote to Wiltshire Council, saying that the proposed flat would ‘have a negative effect on the flow of water from the river during periods of flooding’. Explaining that he had, by then, been ‘involved with’ Camilla’s property for six years, he added that, during that time, the river had repeatedly flooded. ‘Anything that hinders or alters the natural flow of the river to the detriment of other properties is clearly unacceptable.’
On that occasion, Craven’s objections did the trick — only for Camilla’s neighbour to modify his proposals and subsequently secure permission for the granny flat.
The prospect of holidaymakers — perhaps even Airbnb weekenders — tootling along her drive or whooping it up within coronet throwing distance of her house, which she bought for £850,000 in 1996, following her divorce from Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles, seems likely to be just as ‘unacceptable’.
Ray Mill House is where, a friend once remarked, Camilla can ‘sit down with a big G&T, kick off her shoes and watch TV’. Perhaps Airbnb guests can stump up extra to join her on her sofa?
In his tribute to Martin Amis, who died last week aged 73, Boris Johnson said: ‘If you want cheering up, re-read the tennis match in Money’.
But the novelist wasn’t always so fun to play against. ‘He could display the McEnroe-esque burst of bad temper,’ says writer Robert Low, a member of the same West London tennis club.
On one occasion, Amis ‘lost his cool’ and, ‘with a furious swish of his racquet’, whacked one of Low’s balls out of court.
‘It was irretrievable,’ Low says. ‘I was a bit miffed that he didn’t offer to replace it.’
The smart set’s talking about… De Niese’s West End defection
Losing your wife to another man — especially one many years your senior — can never be an agreeable experience, even if it’s only a temporary defection, such as the one being endured by Gus Christie, husband of soprano Danielle De Niese.
It was back in February that I revealed that De Niese, 44, had pulled out of a production of Poulenc’s Dialogue des Carmelites, being staged this summer at Glyndebourne, the Sussex opera house founded by the Christie family in 1934, where Gus is executive chairman.
A Glyndebourne spokesman talked only of ‘a conflicting engagement’, without offering details.
But this week saw De Niese take a starring role in a new West End production of Aspects of Love, the hit musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, 75.
It won’t happen again. Or so Gus, 59, insists. ‘Danni will be back at Glyndebourne next year for the season,’ he assures me at the opening night at London’s Lyric Theatre.
‘She’s doing this musical because she’s keen to explore the various opportunities that come her way. You’ve got to take them while they’re there.’ Stoically said.
This week saw De Niese (pictured) take a starring role in a new West End production of Aspects of Love, the hit musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, 75
Ivy Getty’s cool tip for Cannes crowd
Once a parade of chic glamour, this year’s Cannes Film Festival has seen a bewildering array of flesh-flashing outfits.
Heiress Ivy Getty insists they’re not just a transparent call for attention, but an attempt to keep cool in the French Riviera.
The great-granddaughter of Jean Paul Getty, the oil tycoon who was once the world’s richest man, wore a revealing polka-dot dress to the amfAR gala at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc.
‘I’m baring all when in Cannes because it’s very hot outside,’ Getty (top) tells me. ‘I’m wearing custom August Getty Atelier — my cousin’s design. I feel very confident in this design.’
She adds: ‘I try not to get too nervous beforehand and concentrate on having fun. If you don’t feel confident in what you’re wearing, then you won’t feel confident for the rest of the night.’
Heiress Ivy Getty insists they’re not just a transparent call for attention, but an attempt to keep cool in the French Riviera
Rob Brydon appears to have gone off penning comedy scripts. ‘Writing Marion & Geoff and Human Remains were done in collaboration with two fantastic talents and also at a time when I was so hungry,’ the comic, 58, says.
‘When we were writing Human Remains I was desperate to prove myself, because I was in my early to mid-30s.’
Harry’s U.S. ‘council tax’ hits £116,746
In Royal circles they’ve been nicknamed ‘the Kardashians’ — in tribute, it’s explained, to their appetite for ‘accepting awards for themselves, talking about themselves, doing programmes about themselves’.
But it should, in fairness, be said that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are paying the price for embracing the ‘celebrity lifestyle’ in California — such as the property tax (the U.S. equivalent of council tax) slapped on their mansion in Montecito.
I can reveal that, this year, it amounts to a vertiginous £116,746 — more than 24 times the highest council tax in Britain.
The property, built in a ‘Tuscan style’, has a library, cinema, gym, spa, pool, tennis court, seven bedrooms and 16 bathrooms, although, by one account, that last figure is now a rather intriguing 13-and-a-half.
Perhaps the half is reserved for the bodyguard? Earlier this month, Meghan was seen out walking, accompanied by Kim Kardashian’s former ‘muscle’ who, like the most robust US bodyguards, may well have a price-tag of £1,460-a-day.
When she was married to the third of her four husbands, Oasis singer Liam Gallagher, she was one of the most enthusiastic party-goers in North London’s hedonistic ‘Primrose Hill set’.
Nowadays, Patsy Kensit is tucked up by nine o’clock. ‘I had a few late nights in the Nineties, but I’m in bed by 9pm, really and truly,’ the actress, 55, tells me.
‘I just finished filming Death in Paradise in Guadeloupe. It was a fantastic cast, but they would get back to the hotel room every night and say, ‘Come on to the bar, Pats’, and I was like, ‘I can’t. I’ve got to be in bed at 8pm.’ ‘So, by the end of it, they didn’t bother asking me [any more].’
Nowadays, Patsy Kensit is tucked up by nine o’clock. ‘I had a few late nights in the Nineties, but I’m in bed by 9pm, really and truly,’ the actress, 55, tells me
Never Gonna Give You Up singer Rick Astley was restricting himself to a different tune when he popped into the Chelsea Flower Show this week — an aria extolling his daughter, Emilie, who has a garden at the event.
‘She’s done amazingly,’ says the adoring pop star, 57, explaining that Emilie, 31, works with a friend, the perfectly named Amelia Bouquet.
‘The first garden they designed was for this — Chelsea. I’m such a proud dad,’ adds Astley, who insists he won’t attempt to compete, explaining: ‘I like building sheds.’
Mastermind host Clive Myrie has reported from war-torn Ukraine, earthquake-stricken Nepal, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan for the BBC, yet his biggest worry is his stomach.
‘I am prone to travel sickness, even though I spend my time travelling,’ admits Myrie, 58, recalling his childhood visits to family in Jamaica. ‘I was just sick all the time on that flight from the UK to Kingston,’ he says.
‘And then there were cross-country journeys across bumpy roads to see cousins and other relatives. And I was just throwing up the whole time there.’
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