She was humiliated when pictures of her actor husband Dominic West cavorting with Lily James were plastered all over the world’s media.
Now Catherine FitzGerald has banned him from speaking to Lily as part of a peace deal struck between the couple during a lockdown escape to trendy island destination Lamu in Kenya.
The actor, 51, finally won forgiveness for the infamous photographs that showed him flirting outrageously with 32-year-old Lily while on a secret trip to Rome.
The Wests even discussed renewing their wedding vows to rebuild their ten-year marriage, The Mail on Sunday has learned.
United frint: Catherine FitzGerald was humiliated when pictures of her actor husband Dominic West cavorting with Lily James surfaced. Now she has banned him from speaking to Lily as part of a peace deal struck between the couple (pictured after the scandal)
The couple were joined on Lamu – described by Conde Nast Traveller magazine as loved by ‘wastrels, writers and royals’ – by a group of friends who included beauty entrepreneur Charlotte Tilbury and Alan Yentob, the BBC’s former creative director.
‘The idea of remarrying was talked about,’ says a friend of the couple.
‘Nothing was decided, or has been yet, but Catherine brought up the idea and it was much discussed. It shows how far things have come since those photographs.’
The Lamu trip had been Ms Tilbury’s suggestion – and it seems to have paid off.
Having dealt with the biting hurt caused by her husband’s frolicking with Downton Abbey star Lily last year, it seems that Catherine, 49, concluded that life was better with him than without. However, the MoS has been told there are some strict new rules to guide West’s future behaviour.
Roman frolics: The actor, 51, finally won forgiveness for the infamous photographs that showed him flirting outrageously with 32-year-old Lily while on a secret trip to Rome. (Pictured: West and James together in Italy last year)
‘He has promised never to see, speak or work with Lily again,’ said a friend. Also, there are to be no joint promotional interviews for the forthcoming TV adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s novel The Pursuit Of Love, in which they both star.
This, apparently, has caused surprise among BBC bosses who hope the series will be a ratings triumph, having scheduled it to be screened in the primetime Sunday 9pm slot currently occupied by Line Of Duty.
It is thought that despite initial protestations, the BBC has agreed to the Wests’ request.
Indeed, it is possible that West will not do any promotional work for the series, leaving it to co-stars Andrew Scott and Freddie Fox.
Inevitably, though, the first episode of The Pursuit Of Love, on May 9, will put the Wests’ marriage firmly back in the spotlight.
Escape: The Wests even discussed renewing their wedding vows to rebuild their ten-year marriage during a lockdown escape to trendy island destination Lamu in Kenya (pictured)
There was huge sympathy for Catherine last October when, shortly after the photographs emerged, she and her husband staged a cringe-making photocall outside their Wiltshire home to tell the world that they were ‘very much together’ and had a ‘strong marriage.’
Just hours earlier, father-of-five West had arrived back from the Italian capital where he had been photographed, without his wedding ring, nuzzling into Lily’s neck as the pair smooched on an e-scooter ride.
‘It was hard for Catherine to deal with all the publicity back then,’ says a friend. ‘Now it feels like Round Two.’
Catherine, an aristocratic Irish landscape garden designer, has at least benefited from the ‘peace talks’ on Lamu.
Ms Tilbury, who had the idea, sold her make-up empire for £1 billion last year and often rents a large house in the town of Shela on the island.
It is understood that to avoid the complicated, 4,420-mile journey on scheduled flights, the Wests – including their children Dora, 13, Senan, 12, Francis, 11, and Christabel, seven – travelled on a private jet used by Ms Tilbury.
A source explains: ‘Dom decided to fly to Lamu with Catherine and the kids in early January.
‘The total privacy they found on the island meant they spent an idyllic five weeks, with their children running freely.’
The Wests are among a long list of well-heeled celebrities who fled the Covid lockdown and the British winter by circumnavigating strict travel rules to visit Lamu, where temperatures can reach 32C in January. The island has escaped the pandemic and there is a 10pm until 4am curfew.
Racy drama: Inevitably, though, the first episode of The Pursuit Of Love, on May 9, in which they both star, will put the Wests’ marriage firmly back in the spotlight (Pictured: James, left, with Emily Beecham in The Pursuit Of Love)
Along with Ms Tilbury, recent visitors have been her make-up guru friend Mary Greenwell, film producer Gaby Tana, fashion designer Bella Freud, and TV presenter David Dimbleby and his wife Belinda.
Supermodel Adwoa Aboah, whose parents have a home on Lamu, was also there, as were design influencer Caroline Grout de Beaufort and artist Alexandra Spyratos.
Although it is a Muslim island, meaning alcohol can sometimes be hard to obtain, Lamu has become an exotic bolthole for the wealthy – a more chic version of Ibiza labelled ‘the Notting Hill of Africa’. Most stay in Shela.
Two years ago, Princess Beatrice took a romantic trip to the island with her now husband Edo Mapelli Mozzi.
West’s ill-advised jaunt to Rome with Lily, whose career has soared since appearing in Downton, the movie Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and most recently in the Netflix film The Dig, has also led to problems for the actress.
As The Mail on Sunday reported, she felt she had become the victim of sexist bullying and slut-shaming following the publication of the pictures of her and West. While he is married and she is single, there was a feeling that she had been unfairly trolled online, while West had mainly been let off the hook.
Difficult: Lily felt she had become the victim of sexist bullying and slut-shaming following the publication of the pictures of her and West. There was a feeling that she had been unfairly trolled online, while West had mainly been let off the hook (pictured in September 2019)
Intriguingly, a screening of The Dig, in which Lily plays an archaeologist excavating an Anglo-Saxon burial site in Suffolk, was staged by its producer, Gaby Tana, for her friends at a venue in the town of Shela.
Apparently, there was much mischievous talk among the island’s luvvie visitors as to whether the Wests would attend.
‘Dominic and Catherine thought it best to stay away,’ the MoS has been told.
Given the state of the couple’s marriage last autumn, when West was said to have admitted ‘having feelings’ for Lily, and when his wife retreated to her family’s ancestral home in Ireland, the Lamu trip could be seen as five of the most important weeks of West’s life.
He and Lily first appeared together in a stage production of Othello in 2011. They were reunited to film The Pursuit Of Love around Bristol and Bath from July to October last year.
She is the star of the series, playing Linda Radlett, an aristocratic heroine on a quest to find true romance at all costs in the inter-war years. West plays her father.
Dominic and Catherine put on a united front at Glin Castle over Christmas as they shared a snap with their children – Dora, 13, Senan, 12, Francis, 11, and Christabel, seven – to social media
Lily’s closeness to West, say friends, was something his wife never expected – and she went to great lengths to ensure the lives of the members of her family were not too badly damaged by the fall-out from the co-stars’ Rome escapade.
‘Catherine was left in pieces by the scandal as she never believed or thought that Dom would be unfaithful,’ said one.
‘After trying to make endless excuses, Dom had to give in to what the pictures suggested. He told Catherine he loved her so much but she was still devastated.’
Old Etonian West, who has a 23-year-old actress daughter from a previous relationship with aristocratic previous girlfriend Polly Astor, is said to have begged for a second chance. But a source said: ‘Catherine is no pushover and was completely torn.’
The daughter of Desmond FitzGerald, the 29th Knight of Glin, she met West when he was studying at Trinity College, Dublin, in the early 1990s. After a decade together and having three of their four children, they wed at the family’s Glin Castle in County Limerick in 2010 in front of a host of celebrity friends.
The couple met while studying at Trinity College, Dublin, in the early 1990s and wed at the family’s Glin Castle (pictured) in County Limerick in 2010
When the castle fell into disrepair and Catherine’s family could no longer afford to run it, West bought it in 2015, meaning it remained in the Glin family. As its saviour, West won hero status among Catherine’s sisters and wider family.
One said: ‘Dom is woven so tightly into Catherine’s life – through marriage, their children and her family’s historic Irish home – that it would be a huge amount to give up if their marriage dissolved.
‘Splitting up was never really an option. But Catherine needed to know she could trust Dominic and that what happened with Lily James in Rome was a totally isolated incident and that nothing like it would ever happen again.’
While Dominic and Catherine seem back on an even keel, she might wish to make a return trip to Lamu to avoid the publicity machine that is bound to surround the launch of The Pursuit Of Love – a reminder of her errant husband’s joint venture with Lily.
Indeed, she should heed something that Nancy Mitford wrote in the novel on which the series is based: ‘No woman really minds hearing of the past affairs of her lover.
‘It is the future alone that has the power to terrify.’