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EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Boris’ ex mother-in-law reveals she ‘tried her best’ to stop first marriage

As if Boris Johnson didn’t have enough on his plate, he’s now been given a ticking off by his former mother-in-law.

Author Gaia Servadio, mother of the Prime Minister’s aristocratic first wife, former model Allegra Mostyn-Owen, has bitter memories of the couple’s relationship and describes him as a poor husband.

Boris married Allegra in 1987 and split six years later, before he went on to tie the knot with his second wife, barrister Marina Wheeler.

‘I have never liked Boris,’ Miss Servadio declares. ‘He and Allegra met at Oxford. They were the stars at university.

Boris married Allegra Mostyn-Owen and split six years later, before he went on to tie the knot with his second wife, barrister Marina Wheeler

She was beautiful and he had a drive to be the best. When they decided to get married, I tried my best to dissuade her.’

So desperate was she to prevent her daughter exchanging vows with Boris that she enlisted the help of one of America’s most celebrated novelists. 

‘I got the author Philip Roth, who was my friend, to find her a job,’ Miss Servadio reveals.

'He’s not a bad man, but he is unreliable,' says Boris Johnson's former mother-in-law, author Gaia Servadio, who has bitter memories of the couple’s relationship and describes him as a poor husband

‘He’s not a bad man, but he is unreliable,’ says Boris Johnson’s former mother-in-law, author Gaia Servadio, who has bitter memories of the couple’s relationship and describes him as a poor husband

‘He got her one in the United States to get away, but it didn’t work, Allegra refused to go.’

Allegra’s father was the late art historian William Mostyn-Owen. 

Although Miss Servadio leans to the Left politically, her antipathy to Boris is because of his personality, she insists. 

‘I didn’t like the fact he was on the Right, but, above all, I didn’t like his character. For him, the truth doesn’t exist. 

‘His father [former MEP Stanley] is just the same — they believe their lies so they can increase their power. You just need to look at the rancour he’s causing in England.’

Although Boris has six children, Miss Servadio is relieved that none was with her daughter.

‘Fortunately, he and Allegra never had children,’ she says. ‘Then she realised the mistake she had made.’

Let’s hope, Josephine McAfee, the mother of his fiancee, Carrie Symonds, takes a more generous view...

Let’s hope, Josephine McAfee, the mother of his fiancee, Carrie Symonds, takes a more generous view…

The author adds: ‘He’s not a bad man, but he is unreliable.

‘He never treated her badly, but, for me, my son-in-law was always the exact opposite of what a mother desires for her daughter.’

Let’s hope, Josephine McAfee, the mother of his fiancee, Carrie Symonds, takes a more generous view…

Name-dropping the Queen enough to escape KGB 

You never know when family connections might come in useful. 

BBC presenter Simon Reeve was once arrested by the KGB in the former Soviet region of Transnistria. 

Luckily, two days earlier he’d been telling his translator, an English teacher called Loretta, about a family legend which claims he’s descended from architect Sir Christopher Wren, who enjoyed royal patronage. 

Loretta marched straight to KGB headquarters. 

‘You cannot arrest these people,’ she said. 

‘You will bring terrible shame on Transnistria — he’s related to the Queen of England.’ 

He and his crew were freed immediately. 

Even the KGB, it seems, won’t mess with Her Majesty.

No happy ending for the Marquess and his model girlfriend Ella

Lockdown has spelled doom for the long-term romance of the Marquess of Granby and Ella Ross

Lockdown has spelled doom for the long-term romance of the Marquess of Granby and Ella Ross

With his title and family castle, plus her model looks, the Marquess of Granby and Ella Ross made one of society’s most talked-about couples.

But I hear lockdown has spelled doom for their long-term romance.

‘It’s sad, but they want different things and decided to go separate ways,’ confirms one of their friends.

The Marquess, Charles Manners, 21, is son and heir of the Duke of Rutland, while Ella is a model who was previously courted by Scott Disick, father of reality TV star Kourtney Kardashian’s three children.

With his title and family castle, plus her model looks, the Marquess of Granby and Ella Ross made one of society’s most talked-about couples

With his title and family castle, plus her model looks, the Marquess of Granby and Ella Ross made one of society’s most talked-about couples

Ella, 24, got on well with the Manners family and was chosen by the Duchess of Rutland to star in her fashion campaign last year.

The couple spent much of lockdown with his family at Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire.

Farewell to Dempster’s colourful Countess 

Said to have the ‘naughtiest’ face in London and the behaviour to match it, Countess Emma de Bendern has died at the age of 70.

Granddaughter of the Marquess of Queensberry, she was married four times, including to my illustrious predecessor Nigel Dempster.

Another ex-husband was Prince George Galitzine, an art director in the film industry and member of the Russian royal family.

She loved her second husband, businessman Giles Trentham, so much that she married him not once but twice.

Aged 21 and a single mother, she met Dempster at a friend’s wedding. ‘When he mentioned a horse he fancied for the next day — it was L’ Escargot at Cheltenham — I wanted to show off so I gave him £20, which was a lot in those days, and asked him to put it on for me,’ she said.

L’ Escargot romped home and Emma rang Dempster to ask for her winnings.

‘You’ll have to come out for dinner to collect them,’ he said.

After a breakneck romance, they had a grand wedding. Bizarrely, Emma’s mother joined the couple in bed for the first night of their marriage and they all cuddled up together.

A mother of three, her death followed a fall at her West London home.

‘I’m no celebrity chef’  

Invariably described as a ‘celebrity chef’, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall admits he doesn’t deserve the title. 

‘The truth is I’ve only ever done six months at the coalface of a working restaurant kitchen, and that was the River Cafe in London in 1989 — and I got fired,’ he admits.

‘The truth is I’ve only ever done six months at the coalface of a working restaurant,' Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall admits

‘The truth is I’ve only ever done six months at the coalface of a working restaurant,’ Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall admits

The River Cafe’s boss, Ruth Rogers, has said she was ‘very sad’ about his departure, forced on her by temporary cutbacks. 

Nicknamed Hugh Fearlessly-Eatsitall, he was educated at Eton College and Oxford before making his name presenting the River Cottage series.

He says: ‘The world of food is a fantastic leveller. You don’t have to be upper class to be snobby about food.’

Lily’s latest passion – for ping-pong 

Lily James is really getting into the swing of things with hew new co-star, Shazad Latif.

While shooting What’s Love Got To Do With It? in South London, the 31-year-old bonded with the actor, 32, over a game of ping-pong.

While shooting What’s Love Got To Do With It? in South London, Lily James bonded with actor, Shazad Latif, 32, over a game of ping-pong

While shooting What’s Love Got To Do With It? in South London, Lily James bonded with actor, Shazad Latif, 32, over a game of ping-pong

The film, written and produced by Jemima Goldsmith, is based on a cross-cultural relationship and is Lily’s first outing since she was caught kissing the married actor Dominic West — her co-star in the forthcoming series, The Pursuit Of Love — in Rome last October.

Sitwell’s fashion hunt 

While Lord Lucan’s wife runs a chic outdoor clothing label, Lucan Fashion, galloping up behind her is Martha Sitwell, who is launching her own brand, Sitwell & Whippet, next month.

‘I had designed before, but I’m re-branding because my collections were copied,’ Martha, 40, tells me, intriguingly.

‘I can’t say who by, but imitation is the highest form of flattery. This time it will all be sustainably made, and made to measure.

‘The collection will focus on hunting, shooting and fishing. Field sports are contentious, but I strongly feel it’s the most ecologically sound way of living.

Martha Sitwell  is launching her own brand, Sitwell & Whippet, next month. The collection will focus on hunting, shooting and fishing

Martha Sitwell  is launching her own brand, Sitwell & Whippet, next month. The collection will focus on hunting, shooting and fishing

‘I would rather eat a pheasant than a battery-farmed chicken.’

The ex-wife of baronet Sir George Sitwell says her label should not be compared with the Countess of Lucan’s. 

‘I love her stuff, but we have a different aesthetic — different silhouettes. I’m a great believer in the waist. It’s the most sensuous part of a woman.

‘Just because you’re in a muddy field doesn’t mean you need to look like a frump.’

Curtain twitching after shouting at Downton star’s home  

Hugh Bonneville’s neighbours could be forgiven for assuming he’s gone stir crazy in lockdown.

The Downton Abbey star was heard shouting outside the West Sussex home he shares with his wife, Lulu. 

But he insists that all’s well; he was just re-recording snatches of dialogue for the film To Olivia, in which he stars opposite Keeley Hawes.

‘One exterior scene involved a fair amount of yelling,’ he explains. ‘I propped up the microphone outside my front door, waited for the birdsong to subside — and started screaming my head off into the night sky.’

Bonneville adds: ‘The next-door neighbours’ curtains raised an eyebrow. ‘Those Bonnevilles…!’ ‘

Kate’s mother hopes birthday will be ‘full of surprises’

Celebrating a birthday in lockdown is a challenge for anyone. 

Even more so for the Duchess of Cambridge’s father, Michael Middleton, whose wife, Carole, turns 66 tomorrow.

‘If, like me, your birthday falls during the cold, dark days of winter, your loved ones can still make the day full of surprises,’ Carole says, hopefully.

‘It may not be how we imagined we would be celebrating, but a little effort can still lift the spirits and bring some joy.

‘This year it’s down to my husband to help me mark my day — no pressure!’

It’s a wrap-up-warm for Bridgerton star 

Phoebe Dynevor, who goes from being a shy debutante in Netflix’s hit costume drama Bridgerton to a confident duchess, has undergone a similar transformation in real life.

Phoebe Dynevor plays Daphne Bridgerton, a shy debutante who transforms into a confident duchess

Phoebe Dynevor plays Daphne Bridgerton, a shy debutante who transforms into a confident duchess

The actress, 25, pictured out in Manchester this week, has undergone a similar transformation in real life

The actress, 25, pictured out in Manchester this week, has undergone a similar transformation in real life 

The actress, 25, pictured out in Manchester this week, is Daphne Bridgerton, and says she decided to ‘play hard-to-get’ after too many unsuccessful auditions.

‘I did go through a stage right before Bridgerton, where there was so many peaks and troughs and rejection,’ she says.

‘Things started changing for me, when I was, like, ‘I’m not going to go into an audition and beg for a job’.’ She adds: ‘There’s something to be said for playing hard-to-get in those situations.’


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