SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Mystery of the foreign tycoon and the Queen’s grandchildren… why the Home Office has refused to make public the relationship between an international businessman and royal siblings Zara and Peter Phillips
The Queen’s grandchildren Zara Phillips and her brother Peter have always relied on making their own money after their mother, the Princess Royal, expressed the hope that they would lead lives which would be as ‘normal’ as possible.
But they have not always avoided pitfalls.
Earlier this year, Peter was ridiculed for appearing in a milk commercial on Chinese TV, billed as ‘British Royal Family member Peter Phillips’.
The Queen’s grandchildren Zara Phillips and her brother Peter have always relied on making their own money
He has additionally received a salary from Chinese businessman Dr Johnny Hon, who also paid Zara £100,000-a-year for horse racing advice.
So some might think questions about their financial probity are worth investigating. Not at the Home Office, nor the Information Commission, however.
For I can disclose both organisations have just rejected a request that Zara and Peter’s relationship with an eminent international businessman be made public.
So who could it be? The person is not identified for confidentiality reasons, but it could conceivably be Johnny Hon himself.
The unprecedented request was made last year by another businessman.
He claimed that there was a significant public interest in knowing if Zara, wife of former England rugby captain, Mike Tindall, and Peter had ever lobbied the Home Office on behalf of a man who is said to have businesses and investments — as well as charitable commitments — both in the UK and overseas.
Peter has received a salary from Chinese businessman Dr Johnny Hon (pictured together) who has also paid Zara £100,000-a-year for horse racing advice
Successive judgments — first by the Home Office and then by the Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham — concluded that any such information should remain private.
Denham insisted: ‘People have a reasonable and legitimate expectation that information about whether or not they have written to the Home Secretary about a particular subject will not be disclosed to the world at large without their knowledge or consent’.
She added: ‘This expectation is not removed because someone is prominent or well known, for example because they are members of the Royal Family.’
Vogue star Rosie raps focus on skinny models
Vogue cover girl Rosie Tapner, whose father Rory is the former boss of the Queen’s banker, Coutts, decries the fashion industry’s obsession with thinness.
‘Over the past ten years I have been called fat more times than not. Sample sizes have been too small, and despite being somewhat resilient to it all, it does mess with your head,’ says the 24-year-old from Hertfordshire.
Vogue cover girl Rosie Tapner, whose father Rory is the former boss of the Queen’s banker, Coutts, decries the fashion industry’s obsession with thinness
‘It’s about time we saw some change. It’s about time we promoted fit, strong and healthy models. That is what needs promoting and that is what needs to be the focus for fashion.
‘I’m not saying that being naturally skinny is a bad thing, I have always been naturally thin. We all come in our different shapes and sizes and it’s that we should celebrate and promote.’
Hyperactive BBC Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine seems to be getting touchy about the fact he’s turned 55.
‘On Twitter, in response to something I put out, a person said, “Well, you are in the autumnal stage of your life.” I blocked him.
‘I unblocked him a few minutes later because I thought he’s got every right to say it.’
Probably just as well, given the renewed scrutiny the Corporation is putting on its stars’ conduct on social media.
Little Women star Emily Watson has hit out at Hollywood for focusing on big-budget, low-quality films.
‘Hollywood is dominated by superhero films these days; I think we’ve lost a whole generation of talented actors to Lycra,’ declares Watson, adding titles she’s starred in wouldn’t see the light of day now.
Little Women star Emily Watson has hit out at Hollywood for focusing on big-budget, low-quality films
‘There’s a middle-level of interesting films — such as The Boxer or Angela’s Ashes — that don’t get made any more.
‘And that’s sad, because there’s a way of dwelling with somebody on the big screen — particularly if working on actual film, which some directors still do — that you don’t get on the small one. You don’t live and breathe them in, in quite the same way.’
Film-maker Sadie’s new leading man is son Rafferty
While many families struggled living in each other’s pockets during lockdown, Sadie Frost turned it into a career-boosting opportunity.
The 55-year-old directed a short film, Contact, starring her and her ex-husband Jude Law’s son, Rafferty.
Sadie Frost has directed a short film, Contact, starring her and her ex-husband Jude Law’s son, Rafferty (pictured together)
The 23-year-old actor worked with his mum on the project while living with her during the pandemic, and this week they hosted a private screening in North London.
‘It’s about making contact when, after all of us are in isolation, everybody embraces,’ Sadie explains.
‘I think it makes you feel euphoric at the end, that there is hope. And you know, that we will get through this and we can kind of inspire each other, excite each other, join together and kind of transform.’
Stone me! Keith Richards’ health tip — wear a mask
While Noel Gallagher refuses to wear a ‘pointless’ mask in public, fellow musician Keith Richards is singing a different tune.
‘Oh yeah, I’m a masked man. I mean, it’s what you have to do. I don’t care what it looks like or anything else,’ says the 76-year-old Rolling Stone, who is staying at home in Connecticut with his wife, Patti Hansen.
‘It’s ridiculous. This is bloody Alice In Wonderland, you know?’
His tour with the Stones was cancelled this year due to the pandemic, but Keef remains optimistic.
‘I’m just hoping everybody can all get back together again next year, without masks. By then, I hope we won’t need ’em. But otherwise, I wear mine in bed.’
PM’s luxury stay on eve of camping hols
There was incredulity in certain quarters when it emerged the Prime Minister was taking fiancee Carrie Symonds and son Wilfred camping in Scotland last month, not least from Petronella Wyatt, with whom Bojo enjoyed a four-year affair in the Noughties.
There was incredulity in certain quarters when it emerged the Prime Minister was taking fiancee Carrie Symonds and son Wilfred camping in Scotland last month
‘Boris can’t cook!’ exclaimed Petronella.
But perhaps he didn’t need to: his latest entry in the Register of Members’ Interests discloses that he and two others were treated to the use of the Windsor Suite at Heathrow on August 16 on the eve of his holiday.
Tycoons are obliged to shell out £4,200 for that privilege.
I trust the PM took the opportunity for a calorific ‘refuel’ before subjecting himself to the wilds.
David Morrissey, star of new ITV drama The Singapore Grip, admits he’s so happy with getting attention from fans on the street that he won’t correct them if they misidentify him.
‘Sometimes people come up to me and say they think I was brilliant in Our Friends In The North,’ he says of the Nineties show starring Daniel Craig and Christopher Eccleston.
‘And I wasn’t in it, but I say thanks very much. I’ll take any praise. If they think I’m Gina McKee, that’s fine.’
Holly’s latest look – shot by daughter, 9
This Morning co-host Holly Willoughby is more than happy giving her nine-year-old daughter a leg up in the industry.
Holly Willoughby allowed her nine-year-old daughter Belle to photograph her new campaign for Marks & Spencer
The 39-year-old mother of three, who is married to television producer Dan Baldwin, allowed Belle to photograph her new campaign for Marks & Spencer.
The youngster’s services were in lieu of a professional snapper, since it took place in lockdown.
Sharing a picture online in which she sports the High Street giant’s dress and camel coat, she says: ‘I’m delighted to reveal the first of my favourite looks from M&S’s Autumn collection, expertly shot by my Belle whilst in quarantine.’
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