Striking a regal pose, Emma Dent Coad celebrated her 60th birthday by donning a toy tiara and posing for a picture.
‘Birthday Queen,’ she wrote when she posted it on Facebook two years ago. But when friends replied with jokey birthday greetings to ‘Queen Emma’, she could not resist a jibe at the royals.
‘I prefer President, but thanks. And presidents don’t get tiaras.’
Emma Dent Coad, the MP who attacked Harry and Philip at the Labour Conference, is herself descended from an ‘aristocratic’ family who were descended from Christopher Columbus
Miss Dent Coad’s loathing for the Royal Family borders on the obsessional. But the recently elected Labour MP for Kensington has plumbed new depths with her distasteful jibes at the party’s conference in Brighton this week.
She lampooned Prince Harry’s military record, saying he couldn’t pass his helicopter pilot exams and ‘just sits there going “vroom vroom”’. She further claimed that the Duke of Edinburgh has been ‘mucking about for years, he’s not been a faithful husband’.
The comments outraged fellow MPs, as has her refusal to apologise despite conceding she got her facts wrong about Prince Harry.
There is rich irony attached to the fact that arch-republican Miss Dent Coad, 62, represents not only the richest constituency, but also one brimming with members of the family she so despises; among her constituents are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and Prince and Princess Michael.
Since her elevation to national politics, Miss Dent Coad has certainly exploited the royals in cynical shots to garner headlines.
Colleagues describe her as a ‘cold and humorless’ person who ‘is too Left-wing for the Shadow Cabinet’
In July, she compared the Duchess of Cambridge and relatives to reality TV stars the Kardashians.
Weeks later, at the anti-monarchist campaign group Republic’s convention she said she ‘despised’ taxpayers’ money being spent on the Queen, and would prefer Victoria and David Beckham to be royals than the Cambridges because ‘they have earned their own money’.
It was, she added, ‘hysterical’ that there was Tory support for taxpayer funding of Kensington Palace, calling Prince William and his wife ‘vulgar’.
Miss Dent Coad served as a councillor on the Tory-run Kensington council from 2006 and led the Labour group for three years until she was deposed in a coup.
Some colleagues describe her as ‘cold and humourless’ and another says: ‘She was a Corbynista long before Jeremy Corbyn became party leader … Frankly, she makes Jeremy Corbyn look moderate. I think she is too Left-wing for his Shadow Cabinet.’
So who is Emma Dent Coad and what exactly is driving her?
One of six children, she was born and brought up in Kensington, daughter of Professor Charles Enrique Dent, an eminent Spanish-born biochemist, and Ruth Coad, a nurse and daughter of a canon of Chester Cathedral.
Her background was undoubtedly privileged and on the Spanish side her family is descended from explorer Christopher Columbus and the Borgias, notorious aristocrats who produced two Popes – it is an ancestry she takes great pride in.
In her CV she refers to her grandmother’s ‘aristocratic’ family who were sympathetic to the fascist dictator Franco – ‘as was, to my eternal consternation, my father’, she wrote.
Educated at Sacred Heart High School in west London, she graduated from the Royal College of Art with a degree in history of design, and became a journalist and author.
Her first marriage, in 1978, to the aristocratic Hadley D’Oyly lasted just four years.
Ms Dent Coad accused Prince Harry of being unable to fly a helicopter, and Prince Philip of being unfaithful to the Queen during the Labour Conference
Her second husband, David Blott, 58, is the father of her three children but the marriage ended 20 years ago. She has lived in a housing association flat in Kensington for 30 years.
Following the blaze at Grenfell Tower, Miss Dent Coad was vociferous in criticising the Tory council, blaming ‘poor quality materials and construction standards’.
She insisted there was a clear link between the tragedy and the council’s determination to redevelop the area.
‘The council wants to develop this area full of social housing, and in order to enable that they have prettified a building they felt was ugly … The idea that that has led to this horrendous tragedy is just unthinkable.’
The same cladding, which ignited the Grenfell blaze, has been identified in tower blocks in dozens of Labour-run councils.
It later emerged that Miss Dent Coad had been a member of the Kensington Tenant Management Organisation which managed the borough’s council properties.
She served on the TMO until May 2014 during the period the refurbishment discussions of Grenfell Tower were under way (if not when the changes to the cladding were being discussed).
It’s not just the royals who have been the butt of her juvenile behaviour. In June, she was asked on the BBC if it was true she defaced posters of Boris Johnson during London Mayoral elections.
‘Was that illegal?’ she asked. ‘Quite possibly. I did use Blu Tack [to do it] so they could have been moved.’
Defacing election posters is viewed as criminal damage and carries a fine of £80.
It was, a former council colleague says, a ‘typically tribal act’ by Miss Dent Coad with the justification that ‘if it’s Tory it must be bad’. He adds that there won’t be any apology for Prince Harry. ‘She’s just not the apologising type.’