EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Eton gets in a mess over girls’ reunion
Since its foundation nearly 600 years ago, Eton College has turned out 20 prime ministers, innumerable Cabinet ministers and even a prince or two.
What is less widely known is that, though acclaimed as an all-boys establishment — with fees a stratospheric £46,000 a year — the school has periodically tutored girl pupils.
Now, I hear, the Old Etoniennes, as this small band sometimes describe themselves, have made it plain that they are no longer to be erased from history — nor from an imminent reunion dinner being held at Eton for those who left in 1983.
The female contingent, numbering, I’m told, about 16, were at Eton for just one term (or ‘Half’ in Eton terminology), during which they prepared for the exam then taken by all those hoping to go to Oxford or Cambridge universities.
‘Women have never been invited before,’ says one (male) Old Etonian, who attended the reunion dinner last year for those who left in 1982 — a point confirmed by one of his female contemporaries.
Though acclaimed as an all-boys establishment — with fees a stratospheric £46,000 a year — Eton has periodically tutored girl pupils
‘They’ve never invited me,’ laments the Old Etonienne, ‘or those who were at Eton with me or before me.’
It seems that Eton was quite happy for that pattern to continue. ‘Girls were excluded, as usual,’ I’m told by a member of an Eton family.
But the Etoniennes of 1983, who include High Court judge Dame Philippa Whipple, did not take their exclusion lying down. ‘They kicked up a stink — mounted a campaign. Now they’ve been asked [to attend].’
The school, which declines to comment, sometimes appears to struggle when women come into the equation.
In 2020, it sacked an immensely popular English master, Will Knowland, after he posted a lecture online, and refused to remove it, which cited a Marie Claire magazine article, containing one woman’s observation that she yearned to be overwhelmed by the ‘sheer power of her husband’s masculinity in the bedroom’.
George’s love Thea shows off new Osborne
The sleepless nights that come with having a newborn don’t appear to have stopped George Osborne and fiancee Thea Rogers from staying active.
The couple have been spotted for the first time with new baby Arthur, who was only born in December, on a walk in West London.
Thea, 40, kept him close in a leopard print baby carrier while Osborne, 51, wrapped up warm in a woolly hat to walk their dog. Arthur is the brother of Beau, whom the couple welcomed in July 2021.
Engaged couple Thea Rogers (left) and George Osborne (right) have been spotted for the first time with new baby Arthur on a walk in West London
The ex-Chancellor and Thea, his former adviser, live in a £10 million house in Notting Hill, and also own a property in Somerset.
This is the fourth child for the now chairman of the British Museum, as he also has two grown-up children from his 21-year marriage to the novelist Frances Osborne.
Ditch the tweed and the trilby! The Jockey Club is ending its dress-code requirements at all 15 of its racecourses — Aintree and Cheltenham included. It says it now places ‘great emphasis on diversity and inclusion’. Traditionalists might have been soothed had the club’s chief executive, Nevin Truesdale, opted for more playful language — as favoured by the Duke of Devonshire when, in 2008, he offered guidance for Ascot: ‘Knickers! A definite yes — but not on show, please, ladies.’
Caprice’s charms can subdue Putin!
Having previously posed naked to raise awareness of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, as one does, model Caprice Bourret thinks nudity could still have a role to play in potentially bringing an end to the conflict.
‘I suppose I could send Putin a letter promising some nude pictures if he pulled out of Ukraine. If that stopped the war then I would do that,’ the 51-year-old model tells me at the afterparty for new film The Lair, held at Maddox Tavern in Mayfair.
And although the Californian wouldn’t be averse to causing the dictator a heart attack, she wonders whether the Russian president is actually even alive.
Model Caprice Bourret thinks nudity could still have a role to play in potentially bringing an end to the conflict. Pictured: Caprice at the UK Premier of ‘The Liar’ at the Prince Charles Cinema, London, January 25, 2023
‘I’ve heard a rumour he’s dead. And I worry about his replacement? They might be even worse.’
Probably best she prints a few more copies then.
Could TV host turned top-selling author Richard Osman have just inadvertently revealed how he gets to the top of so many bestseller lists? ‘I had to buy a copy of one of my own books for a charity raffle today,’ he moans. ‘I have never felt so judged.’ How many charity raffles is that then, Richard?
Mr loophole’s princely advice
Nicknamed ‘Mr Loophole’ for his ability to help the rich and famous escape motoring convictions, lawyer Nick Freeman suggests that Prince Andrew shouldn’t waste time attempting to unravel the out-of-court settlement he agreed with Virginia Giuffre, the woman who accused him of sexual assault.
‘My advice to Prince Andrew would be: Don’t waste a moment considering whether to try to reopen a legally binding settlement,’ Freeman says. ‘Instead, devote time in search of a more meaningful existence.’
Blessed with a clutch of screen awards, you’d think it unlikely Jurassic Park star Sam Neill, 75, would venture online to offer romance to anyone sending him a diamond ring.
And you’d be right — as Neill’s assistant alerts fans who may fall for fake ‘Sam Neill’ sites. ‘Sam will never contact you on social media from an unverified account,’ she warns. ‘That’ll be a scammer!! He will never write to you to ask you to continue the conversation on another platform . . . He definitely isn’t having an online romantic relationship with you.’
Heartbreaking for those swooning, I’m sure.
What’s up with matt and mike?
It would appear Mike Tindall won’t be inviting Matt Hancock into the I’m A Celebrity WhatsApp group any time soon.
Fellow 2022 campmate Scarlette Douglas had suggested the former health secretary wasn’t in the contestants’ messaging group post-jungle and Tindall, as administrator, was the only one with the power to include him.
But that seems highly unlikely, as Tindall admits he hasn’t actually even seen Hancock at all since the show finished.
‘I haven’t crossed swords with Matt, no. But he walks a very different path,’ the 44-year-old ex-England rugby captain and husband of Zara Phillips tells me, diplomatically, at the Nordoff Robbins Legends of Rugby dinner, at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair.
Mike Tindall attends the Nordoff Robbins Legends Of Rugby Dinner at The Grosvenor House Hotel on February 01, 2023