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David Beckham expands his list of upper-class friends

Perhaps the tweed cap and Barbour jacket should have been a clue. 

Or the £5 million home in the Cotswolds and the pheasant shooting with Guy Ritchie. 

But confirmation that David Beckham’s Pygmalion-style makeover is nearing completion is his ever-expanding collection of upper-class friends.

The latest milestone in this remarkable transformation – the so-called Poshing of Becks – came last week when his latest social ‘acquisition’ was revealed to be the fast-living aristocrat Lady Mary Charteris.

The so-called Poshing of Becks continues as David Beckham expands his collection of upper-class friends

The former England captain struck up a friendship with ‘Sloane Raver’ Lady Mary at last summer’s Glastonbury Festival, where she was photographed alongside the Beckhams in a VIP balcony in the wings of the main Pyramid stage.

Lady Mary, daughter of James Charteris, the 13th Earl of Wemyss and 9th Earl of March, grew up on a sprawling estate in Gloucestershire – a far cry from the Chingford semi where Becks was brought up by his gas-fitter father Ted and hairdresser mother Sandra. 

But Lady Mary is just the latest in an ever-growing gathering of upmarket beauties who are keen to be seen in Beckham’s company.

The heavily tattooed ‘Goldenballs,’ it seems, has become the 42-year-old golden boy of the swanky London party circuit, which is populated with some of the most beautiful and colourful women in town.

The man behind David Beckham's inexorable social rise is another working-class outsider Dave Gardner, pictured left

The man behind David Beckham’s inexorable social rise is another working-class outsider Dave Gardner, pictured left

It is all the stranger, then, to learn that the man behind this inexorable social rise is another working-class outsider – Beckham’s oldest friend and drinking partner Dave Gardner.

Brought up on a Salford council estate, Gardner was Beckham’s team-mate in Manchester United’s famous ‘Class of 92’ youth team that produced stars including Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.

Charming and charismatic, Gardner failed to make the grade and instead set up the Elite Sports Agency with Jason Ferguson, the son of United manager Alex Ferguson – the first step on a path that led to him becoming one of London’s best-connected men.

According to friends, Gardner is a ‘supreme networker’ whose ‘charm, sense of humour and immense loyalty’ have enabled him to expand his social circle to people such as Lady Mary and her aristocratic chums.

Gardner and Becks – who love to share ‘banter’ on messaging service WhatsApp – are regularly seen drinking beer at The Cow pub in Notting Hill, close to Beckham’s Holland Park mansion.

The modish Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone is another favoured haunt.

Gardner also accompanies Beckham on many business trips around the world. Friends say Gardner is Beckham’s closest confidante, keeper of his secrets.

This, perhaps, is why Victoria Beckham is by no means a fan of Gardner who, it is understood, rarely visits the Beckham home.

‘It can’t be underestimated just how much Victoria loathes him,’ said one friend. Or as another put it: ‘Victoria sees Dave as the bad influence, it’s as simple as that.’ 

Fergie, pictured left with Princess Beatrice of York, organised the notorious tea party at Buckingham Palace for Beckham¿s daughter Harper¿s sixth birthday

Fergie, pictured left with Princess Beatrice of York, organised the notorious tea party at Buckingham Palace for Beckham’s daughter Harper’s sixth birthday

Friends suggest she is equally suspicious of the women who make up Beckham’s well-bred London party posse.

It was Gardner who introduced Beckham to Lady Mary at Glastonbury bash.

The model – whose mother is the Honorable Catherine Guinness – and Becks struck up an instant friendship and spent much of their time at the festival together – with Gardner in attendance, of course.

It is understood that Beckham has met the lively aristocrat twice subsequently, including once at the Chilton Firehouse.

Socialite Poppy Delevingne is another member of the Beckham gang, as is her famous younger sister, supermodel Cara. And they themselves are at the centre of one of Britain’s best-connected social webs, of course.

The Delevingnes’ grandfather was English Heritage chairman Sir Jocelyn Stevens and grandmother Janie Sheffield was a relative of Samantha Cameron’s father Sir Reginald Sheffield and lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret.

Model-turned-actress Poppy set tongues wagging when she left the exclusive Hollywood nightclub The Friend with a dishevelled-looking Beckham in the early hours last February – not that there is any suggestion of anything untoward.

They also found themselves working together on their mutual friend Guy Ritchie’s film King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword. Cara, who is said to make Beckham laugh, has been a friend of both David and his eldest son, Brooklyn, since 2014.

The three were seen together in Los Angeles at a 2015 Burberry fashion party, and Cara was also seen giggling with Beckham during his trip to Glastonbury.

Then there is Suki Waterhouse, 25, the glamorous model daughter of a society plastic surgeon who lives just a stone’s throw from the Beckhams. Suki and her younger sister Immy draped themselves around Beckham at a Burberry party – which is said to have left a snarling Victoria furious. Suki was also at Gardner’s star-studded 40th birthday party at the exclusive Lou Lou’s in Mayfair. Beckham was there too.

Yet the best-connected of Beckham’s new posh posse are the most unlikely acolytes of all: the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, and her daughter Princess Beatrice.

It was Fergie who organised the notorious tea party at Buckingham Palace for Beckham’s daughter Harper’s sixth birthday, when Harper also met Princess Eugenie, another Beckham buddy. Eugenie’s cousin Prince William is another close friend of Beckham.

It all brings to mind the famously louche Primrose Hill set of the late 1990s, which included Kate Moss, Sadie Frost, Jude Law and Sienna Miller – who used to share a flat with Poppy Delevingne. 

It should come as no surprise that Gardner, who himself has enjoyed a meteoric social rise, was part of that set, too.

Gardner married former Hollyoaks actress and loo roll heiress Davinia Taylor (her father Alan Murphy made a £200 million fortune from a paper mill making toilet tissue for the supermarkets) and she was a core member of the Primrose Hill mob.

The couple moved into Supernova Heights, the Primrose Hill townhouse – named after the Oasis hit Champagne Supernova – that was once the home of party-loving rocker Noel Gallagher.

When Gardner and Taylor later divorced, he won full custody of their son Gray, now ten, and became a doting single father, sending him to Wetherby, a highly prized prep school in West London, where Prince William and Harry are former pupils.

Gardner went on to date pop star Rita Ora before an engagement to Lord Of The Rings star Liv Tyler. As the daughter of rock band Aerosmith’s lead singer, Steven Tyler, she is not short of her own connections.

No wonder Gardner’s address book is bulging.

Beckham has already astutely managed to reposition himself from star footballer to international ‘brand’ in a way few other sporting legends have managed.

Now, with the help of an old mate from Salford, it seems Becks has pulled off a stranger transformation still: the Essex boy has turned completely Posh…



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