Eccentric aristocrat Sir Benjamin Slade, who once placed an advertisement for a wife who could provide him with two sons, appears to have found the answer to his prayers.
I hear the baronet, 75, — a keen shot who has 80 firearms on display in his bar room — has got engaged to a poet/composer 46 years his junior. There are rumours the wedding will take place shortly at Maunsel House, his 2,000-acre Somerset pile.
His fiancee is Sahara Sunday Spain, daughter of Johnny Spain, a member of the Black Panthers who was jailed for murder.
‘It’s all top secret because Ben’s relations are furious,’ one of his friends tells me. ‘They’re very suspicious, because it’s all happened in such a hurry.’
Eccentric aristocrat Sir Benjamin Slade, who once placed an advertisement for a wife who could provide him with two sons, appears to have found the answer to his prayers
The usually talkative Sir Benjamin declines to discuss his happy news. But last October he confirmed he had embarked on an unlikely relationship with Sahara.
‘We’re sort of dating,’ Sir Benjamin told me. ‘When lockdown happened, one of the people that came to stay was Miss Sahara Spain. She’s still here.’
His fiancee is Sahara Sunday Spain, daughter of Johnny Spain, above, a member of the Black Panthers who was jailed for murder
It’s a far cry from where she was brought up in the urban desolation of Dogtown in Oakland, on the east shore of San Francisco Bay.
Her mother, Elisabeth Sunday, is a photographer while her father gained infamy in the 1970s as a member of the San Quentin Six, a group of prisoners who attempted a breakout.
While Spain denied killing anyone in the uprising, he was found guilty on two counts of murder.
His daughter has been helping deal with the legal problems of Sir Benjamin, who was ordered to pay more than £150,000 in damages in 2019 to two women forced out of their jobs because they were pregnant.
The baronet’s determined to produce a male heir.
‘I would like to start a family,’ he said. ‘My relatives don’t want to take on the house. They’re very rich and would sell it.’
The usually talkative Sir Benjamin declines to discuss his happy news. But last October he confirmed he had embarked on an unlikely relationship with Sahara. ‘We’re sort of dating,’ Sir Benjamin told me
The smart set’s talking about…
Jack’s foxy fiancee
I hear the 35-year-old, who played Sir Edward Denham in ITV’s adaptation of the unfinished Jane Austen novel, has got engaged to singer-songwriter Eleanor Fletcher, 31
An incorrigible ladies’ man in costume drama Sanditon, Jack Fox has eyes for only one woman in real life.
I hear the 35-year-old, who played Sir Edward Denham in ITV’s adaptation of the unfinished Jane Austen novel, has got engaged to singer-songwriter Eleanor Fletcher, 31.
The younger brother of Lewis star-turned-controversialist Laurence Fox took her to Wimbledon this week and described it as ‘a day out to celebrate the soon to be Mrs Fox’.
Like Jack, whose exes include actresses Lily James and Samantha Barks, Eleanor comes from a creative family: her mother was a ballet dancer and her grandfather a violinist and composer.
‘She’s met the Fox family and they adore her,’ says a friend of the couple, who moved in together in London during lockdown.
Eleanor, a member of the electronic music band Crystal Fighters, has performed at Glastonbury and on Later . . . With Jools Holland.
Prince’s pal is a comfort to the Queen
She was the only one of Prince Philip’s friends to be invited to his funeral, and Penny Knatchbull remains remarkably close to the Queen.
Countess Mountbatten of Burma, 68, was seen sharing a joke with the monarch at the Royal Windsor Horse show.
Penny would regularly attend the equestrian extravaganza alongside the Duke of Edinburgh, her carriage-driving companion.
‘The Queen is delighted to be back at the show,’ a courtier tells me. The event was cancelled last year because of the pandemic.
Will there be a fairy-tale ending for Cinders star?
She plays a wicked stepsister in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s big new musical, Cinderella, but it’s Georgina Castle who’s found Prince Charming in real life
She plays a wicked stepsister in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s big new musical, Cinderella, but it’s Georgina Castle who’s found Prince Charming in real life.
The 28-year-old daughter of Wimbledon commentator Andrew Castle is being courted by handsome financier Harrison Darling, 28, whom she met on dating app Hinge.
‘He’s the first boyfriend I’ve had with a sensible job,’ she tells me.
‘I don’t call him ‘darling’, but it would be fabulous if I went into an audition with that surname — ‘Georgie Darling, your turn!’ Perhaps she could play Wendy Darling in Peter Pan?
The couple made their public debut at Wimbledon this week.
‘He has my parents’ seal of approval, but there’s always some initiation from my dad,’ she adds, ‘like a fight to the death over table tennis.
‘Dad always wins.’
The 28-year-old daughter of Wimbledon commentator Andrew Castle is being courted by handsome financier Harrison Darling, 28, whom she met on dating app Hinge
(Very modern manners)
Freedom day beckons, but have dinner parties become a thing of the past? Formerly hard-living broadcaster Fearne Cotton admits she and her husband, Jesse Wood, have scrapped them.
‘We don’t do the dinner-party thing because I want to go to bed early,’ explains the mother-of-two, 39.
‘I like a lunch where you know that by 4pm or 5pm they’re already thinking about leaving to get home for their dinner.’
In the old days, a lunch party for her father-in-law, Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, would continue until the next day . . .
Kristina boils over waiting for blood pressure test
The ballroom pro boiled over after being forced to wait almost an hour to have her blood pressure taken
We’re used to seeing Strictly star Kristina Rihanoff’s fancy footwork on the dancefloor, but I hear she’s been stamping her feet in fury at her local doctor’s surgery.
The ballroom pro boiled over after being forced to wait almost an hour to have her blood pressure taken. The wait was made even more trying because she had to look after her five-year-old daughter by England rugby world cup winner Ben Cohen.
‘Kristina was very patient, but eventually had had enough,’ a witness tells me. ‘She had heated words with the receptionists.’
Russia-born Rihanoff, 43, is said to have explained to the staff at Earls Barton Medical Centre, Northamptonshire, that the delay was cutting into her teaching time at Soo Yoga wellbeing centre, where students were waiting for her.
After the dancer said she needed to be seen as soon as possible because she was too busy to reschedule, the receptionist said that if she complained any further she would be asked to leave.
In the end, a surgery worker took pity on her and whipped out the blood pressure cuff.
Former Strictly star Kristina tells me: ‘I don’t normally like to make a fuss about things like this, but the whole incident was very distressing for me and my child. I do hope they make changes on how they interact with their patients.’
The surgery declined to comment.
Dubbed the ‘Naughty Boys’ of the Nineties Brit art scene because of their provocative work and penchant for partying, are Dinos and Jake Chapman growing up at last?
I hear Dinos, 58, who once sparked a backlash when he and his brother created a series of paintings using original watercolours by Hitler, has become a grandfather. His daughter Seraphine, 29, a design marketing director, has given birth to a girl named Ursula Gillian Joy de Lussy Crooke.
The father is her long-term boyfriend, Tom Crooke. ‘We’re over the moon and I’m so proud of Seraphine,’ says her mother, Dinos’s ex-wife, French textile designer Tiphaine de Lussy.
A sign of true devotion? Sir Paul McCartney adored his late wife, Linda, so much that he would chop onions for her when she was cooking because he couldn’t bear to see her crying. The former Beatle recalls how he used to help Linda out in the kitchen with menial tasks when she was preparing meals at home for the family.
‘I would always volunteer, because I was often in the kitchen by her side. One thing I didn’t mind was chopping onions I liked the idea of sparing Linda the tears.’
First steps for Kate and baby Arthur
Kate Rothschild is a picture of happiness as she and her entrepreneur boyfriend, Paul Forkan, take their new baby for a walk.
The 39-year-old banking heiress gave birth to the boy last month and, I can reveal, they’ve named him Arthur.
She had four children with her financier ex-husband, Ben Goldsmith, but the eldest, Iris, tragically died at the age of 15 in 2019. Kate and Forkan, 32, walked to their local park where they passed a new memorial bench for Iris.
Kate Rothschild is a picture of happiness as she and her entrepreneur boyfriend, Paul Forkan, take their new baby for a walk
Barrister turned TV personality Robert Rinder has had his fill of his illustrious peers. ‘Mates of mine, who I went to university with, have become mega-famous,’ says the Judge Rinder star, who was best man when Benedict Cumberbatch married theatre director Sophie Hunter.
‘They are lovely and all that, but once you’ve seen famous actors or people who are pop stars, after the initial flush of recognition, you’ve got to sit down and talk to them. Some of them are interesting, but some of them, you’re sitting next to one [and] you’re praying for soup, so you can drown yourself in it.’
However, he spares Cumberbatch from such harsh criticism, adding: ‘Benedict is wonderfully interesting.’