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EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Will Carling admits he behaved ‘stupidly’ over Princess Diana 

Will Carling has always insisted he was just good friends with Princess Diana, but the former England rugby captain has now suggested persistent rumours they enjoyed a love affair may indeed be true

Will Carling has always insisted he was just good friends with Princess Diana, but the former England rugby captain has now suggested persistent rumours they enjoyed a love affair may indeed be true.

Carling, 55, who was married to TV presenter Julia at the time he met Diana, has admitted ‘stupidly doing things you shouldn’t do’.

He confesses: ‘It was a bit of a mess.’ Asked to explain, he says: ‘Just making messes of relationships because you’re sort of rudderless and you’ve lost your focus and you don’t behave well, and I didn’t.

‘Never intentionally or vindictively, I just think that was me, I just was in a bit of a mess. You’re sort of like a car that’s lost a steering wheel and you’re careering all over the place.

‘It wasn’t very pleasant; it was a fairly traumatic time.’

Asked on a podcast about the Diana rumours and the huge media interest they attracted, he replies: ‘You ended up in situations that you shouldn’t have been in. When I look back… I rented, not in my name, a flat in Covent Garden with underground parking. It didn’t have a phone in it. My parents didn’t even know where I lived. I lived there for a year and I never opened the curtains or blinds in case anyone looked in.’

Carling met Diana in 1994 while working out in the gym at Chelsea Harbour Club. 

She went up to him as he was doing sit-ups and joked, ‘You don’t know how to work your abdominals properly’.

Carling, 55, who was married to TV presenter Julia at the time he met Diana, has admitted 'stupidly doing things you shouldn't do'. Carling and Julia are pictured together above

Carling, 55, who was married to TV presenter Julia at the time he met Diana, has admitted ‘stupidly doing things you shouldn’t do’. Carling and Julia are pictured together above

It was the start of a friendship that led Diana’s critics to accuse her of being a home-wrecker, as Carling was newly married and his wife refused to weep and walk away.

When it was disclosed that her husband was visiting the Princess at Kensington Palace, his tell-tale blue Range Rover spotted in the car park, Julia publicly fired a warning shot at Diana, declaring that she had ‘picked the wrong couple’.

Julia added: ‘It would be easy to say she’s ruined my marriage, but it takes two to tango and I blame Will for getting involved in the first place.’ The following year they were divorced.

The smart set’s talking about…

Lady Eliza’s pearly king

I hear the 25-year-old is courting Lady Eliza Manners, the Duke of Rutland's 23-year- old daughter

I hear the 25-year-old is courting Lady Eliza Manners, the Duke of Rutland’s 23-year- old daughter

Finding love during a pandemic is a challenge, but pearl dealer Charlie Barron has dived in and come up with a gem.

I hear the 25-year-old is courting Lady Eliza Manners, the Duke of Rutland’s 23-year- old daughter.

‘They’ve been going out for a little while and he’s already been introduced to her parents,’ one of her friends tells me.

The businessman, whose family owns a pearl farm in Australia, spent some of the festive season at Lady Eliza’s magnificent ancestral home, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire.

Charlie won’t have felt out of a place in a castle as he has designed jewellery for European royalty, as well as Hollywood names.

‘I’ve always loved pearls more than any other gem,’ he has said. ‘They’re a gift from Mother Nature.’

A word in your shell-like, Charlie — mind your Manners!

Charlie won't have felt out of a place in a castle as he has designed jewellery for European royalty, as well as Hollywood names. 'I've always loved pearls more than any other gem,' he has said

Charlie won’t have felt out of a place in a castle as he has designed jewellery for European royalty, as well as Hollywood names. ‘I’ve always loved pearls more than any other gem,’ he has said

Helena’s £1m Crowning glory

Playing Princess Margaret in The Crown has been royally good for Helena Bonham Carter’s bank balance.

I can reveal the actress’s fortune has risen by £1.1million.

Newly published accounts for the business she uses to channel her earnings, Orlando Ltd, disclose that its value increased from £8.2million to £9.3million over 12 months to last March. Bonham Carter, 54, is courting author Rye Dag Holmboe, 33, after splitting up with American film director Tim Burton.

Rosamund Pike shot to fame as an MI6 agent in James Bond film Die Another Day — and she still knows how to stage effective undercover operations

Rosamund Pike shot to fame as an MI6 agent in James Bond film Die Another Day — and she still knows how to stage effective undercover operations

Ex Bond girl Rosamund wages war on unequal pay

Rosamund Pike shot to fame as an MI6 agent in James Bond film Die Another Day — and she still knows how to stage effective undercover operations.

I hear the Oxford graduate managed to secure a substantial pay rise for a fellow actress on Amazon Prime’s forthcoming big-budget television drama, The Wheel Of Time.

‘In recent months, I have fought for female colleagues to be well paid on jobs,’ she reveals.

‘Like on The Wheel Of Time, I fought for another actress to be paid what she was worth, rather than be undercut.’

Pike, 41, was the leading lady in the 2014 Hollywood thriller Gone Girl, but she says of her U.S. co-star: ‘Was Ben Affleck paid more than me?’ I’m sure he was.’

However, when she played late journalist Marie Colvin in the 2018 film A Private War, her co-star Jamie Dornan helped ensure they received the same money.

‘Somebody said, ‘Don’t worry, I don’t think Jamie Dornan will be paid more than you.’

‘And I remember thinking, ‘Well, I wouldn’t have imagined he would be, because my role is larger.’ But, clearly, that would be the norm.’

She adds: ‘Good on Jamie for being willing to support me when lots of men of his standing wouldn’t.’

Britain’s ‘poshest MP’ is about to become even posher.

I hear baronet’s daughter Theodora Clarke, a niece of House of Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, has got engaged to the Earl of Harrowby’s stepson, Henry Coram-James.

Estate agent Henry, 38, proposed to Theo, 35, a descendant of former U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt, with an oval sapphire ring surrounded by diamonds — similar to the one Prince William gave Kate Middleton (and which previously belonged to Princess Diana). Hailing her ‘exciting news’, Theo declares: ‘Bring on 2021.’

A close friend of Boris Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds, Theo was elected last year as Tory MP for Stafford, where her fiance’s family own Sandon Hall, a stately home set in 400 acres of parkland. Henry’s mother is the Countess of Harrowby, who writes racy novels under the name Caroline Sandon.

Jimmy Carr’s career managed to survive making a ‘terrible error of judgment’ by using a tax avoidance scheme, but his fellow comedian Graham Norton seems unforgiving. 

‘There was a time when drunk driving was sort of socially acceptable,’ says BBC chatshow host Norton. 

‘People left dinner parties and they were drunk, and, ‘how are you getting home?’. ‘Oh, I’m driving, I’ll be fine.’

‘And now if somebody did that, people would be, like, ‘please don’t — that’s bad, you might kill someone’. Hopefully, we’ll get to a stage where tax avoidance is the same as that.’

Hunky Grantchester vicar gives last rites to romance 

I hear the 30-year-old actor, who plays the crime-solving Rev Will Davenport in ITV’s Grantchester, has split up with his long-term girlfriend, illustrator Katie Tweddle, 28

I hear the 30-year-old actor, who plays the crime-solving Rev Will Davenport in ITV’s Grantchester, has split up with his long-term girlfriend, illustrator Katie Tweddle, 28

Described as hotter than the ‘hot priest’ in hit comedy Fleabag, Tom Brittney has a confession of his own.

I hear the 30-year-old actor, who plays the crime-solving Rev Will Davenport in ITV’s Grantchester, has split up with his long-term girlfriend, illustrator Katie Tweddle, 28.

‘They gradually got pulled in different directions,’ a friend of the couple tells me, insisting: ‘It was an amicable split. Tom’s been keeping busy during lockdown with work.’

The drama returns this year for its sixth series. Tom, the son of author Lynn Brittney, succeeded James Norton as the show’s leading cleric in 2018.

Former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq has no option but to be in the driving seat when it comes to marriage. Her husband, Charlie Brooker, creator of dark drama Black Mirror, still doesn’t have a driving licence aged 49.

‘If he hasn’t learnt, now that we’ve got kids, he’s never going to bother, is he?’ says Huq, who has a six and an eight-year-old with Brooker. 

‘I’m not going to pressure him; it doesn’t bother me. Our children’s school isn’t very near, so he doesn’t do the school run, but he’ll always do bath and bedtime instead.’

She adds: ‘It’s almost female empowerment in that I’m the only one that drives, I guess.’ Put your foot down Konni…

Never work with animals or children, the American wit W. C. Fields once joked, and Dame Maggie Smith might concur.

The double Oscar winner has revealed she once got in trouble after ticking off a child actor on the set of Steven Spielberg’s adventure film Hook.

‘The most important thing I’ve learned is to be aware of the chaperones,’ she says, referring to the adults who look after children during a shoot. 

‘I remember laying into a very small person when we were doing Peter Pan and it wasn’t very wise because it led to all sorts of terrible things and I thought I’d be struck down by Equity [trade union] or something frightful.’

She adds, ruefully: ‘I learnt a lesson with that first child in his pyjamas trying to fly.’

(Very modern manners)

Known for the quintessentially English style of her eponymous interior designer business, Jane Churchill has admitted she’s actually a secret devotee of cut-price Swedish furnishings.

‘Not everything has to be expensive,’ declares Jane, who was married to Lord Charles Spencer-Churchill, the late son of the 10th Duke of Marlborough. ‘In one of my houses, my kitchen chairs are covered in incredibly pretty material from Ikea. All my glasses come from Ikea.’

Jane, the sister of former Sotheby’s boss Henry Wyndham, adds: ‘If you’re clever, things don’t always have to cost a fortune.

‘Everything’s got to look expensive? No it doesn’t. Buy something and paint it.’


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