When a Downton Abbey episode featured a Turkish diplomat dying while in bed with Lady Mary, viewers scarcely believed that his body could be whisked away, with fellow guests remaining blissfully unaware.
Real life can, though, be even more startling. The Queen’s bridesmaid Lady Pamela Hicks has made the astonishing claim that a guest died after lunch at her family’s stately home.
And, even more surprisingly, that Her Majesty helped dispose of the body.
The unfortunate guest was the Maharaja of Gwalior, who came to Broadlands, in Hampshire, to dine with Lady Pamela’s father, the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, who was the last Viceroy of India as well as Prince Philip’s beloved uncle.
The Queen’s bridesmaid Lady Pamela Hicks has made the astonishing claim that a guest died after lunch at her family’s stately home
When a Downton Abbey episode featured a Turkish diplomat dying while in bed with Lady Mary, viewers scarcely believed that his body could be whisked away, with fellow guests remaining blissfully unaware
‘After lunch, they’re sitting in the drawing room side by side,’ Lady Pamela says. ‘Reminiscing, he leans towards my father, who thinks it’s some intimate whisper and leans towards him too, but the maharaja keeps on leaning and dies.’
Speaking on her daughter India Hicks’s podcast, she continues: ‘So my father panics — and when my father panics, the only person who could tell him what to do was the Queen.
‘So he rings the Queen and says: “I’ve just had Gwalior for lunch,” and she says, “Really, how is he? Do give him my best wishes.”
‘And then my father says: “He’s dead!” The Queen had to get the poor maharaja moved away.’
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes tells me that he had not heard about the incident when he wrote his scene, but is fascinated by the parallels.
The unfortunate guest was the Maharaja of Gwalior, who came to Broadlands, in Hampshire, to dine with Lady Pamela’s father, the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, who was the last Viceroy of India as well as Prince Philip’s beloved uncle
The smart set’s talking about… Artist’s green-fingered girl
Visual artist Dinos Chapman, together with his brother, Jake, made his name from deliberately shocking, sexually explicit plastic figurines with mutilated limbs.
His daughter Agathe, however, is digging in for a more wholesome occupation. ‘I am focusing on gardening,’ she tells me. ‘It’s what I want to do, career-wise.’
The 24-year-old graduate of Goldsmiths, University of London, is also doing some work as a model. Her mother is Dinos’s ex-wife, the Parisian textile designer Tiphaine de Lussy.
Agathe Chapman (pictured), 24, is focusing on gardening career-wise, and is also doing some work as a model
Agathe says her parents’ creative flair strongly influenced her. ‘It’s had a huge effect on me,’ she says.
‘They’ve made sure I have a good background knowledge of art.
‘My mum’s always shown me amazing clothes and made sure I have fun with the way I dress — and not to be scared of looking different.’
As for gardening, Agathe adds: ‘I take inspiration from public places and people’s front gardens in Bethnal Green, where I live, because they’re so wild.
I hate strict, neat gardens. I like breaking the rules. It feels more natural.’
Clearly a girl after her dad’s heart.
(Very) modern manners
A bride’s lingerie is usually reserved for the eager eyes of her groom, but has that tradition gone out the window in this age of oversharing?
Vogue model Eliza Cummings, who wed Hollywood photographer Greg Williams in Berkshire last Saturday, shared this picture online of her wedding day undercrackers with her 100,000 Instagram followers.
The snap of her lifting up her dress while holding a flute of champagne was taken in the back of their limousine.
We know Eliza was wearing Agent Provocateur lacy white stockings and frilly knickers because the label shared the image on its own social media.
Let’s hope the picture was snapped by her new husband and not a very cheeky wedding photographer.
Vogue model Eliza Cummings, who wed Hollywood photographer Greg Williams in Berkshire last Saturday, shared this picture online of her wedding day undercrackers with her 100,000 Instagram followers
Anarchic comedian Russell Brand, who courted heiress Jemima Goldsmith and wed American pop singer Katy Perry, admits he struggles to let go of former lovers.
‘Fifty per cent of women and 40 per cent of men still look at their previous partners’ social media profiles,’ says Brand, who has two children with second wife Laura Gallacher.
‘That suggests a real inability to let go.’ He adds: ‘I don’t do that stalking on the internet thing, because that’s not good for me. I don’t think I could handle that at all.
‘I feel like if you’re not going to be in a relationship with someone, once the decision has been made, you should not look back.’
Clearly, Brand doesn’t follow his own advice as he split up with Laura before they were eventually reunited.
Political correctness is making one of our top chefs boil over.
Restaurateur and author Yotam Ottolenghi says he has been accused of ‘cultural appropriation’ after including a recipe called Thai Gratin in one of his cookbooks.
‘I should have said Asian-flavoured, but I got a lot of angry letters,’ he reveals. ‘I haven’t done anything bad to anyone by saying it’s Thai. If a Chinese person says: “These are noodles a la Europe”, I don’t care.’
He adds: ‘They say they’re going to ban all the white people from cooking Mexican food — that’s when the crazy culinary police come in and say: “This is what you’re allowed to cook.” It’s not fun and goes against the whole history of food.’
Santa claws cheating pals
Well-connected novelist Santa Montefiore has revealed her despair at the number of friends who have slept with their pals’ husbands.
‘I’ve always had my doubts about the so-called “sisterhood”, because women can be competitive and I’ve witnessed too many women betraying close girlfriends over men,’ says Santa, sister of late socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.
‘But I’ve learned that not all women are like that. My “tight-knit gang” of five friends [whom she met at a book club ten years ago] have taught me there really is a sisterhood and I’m grateful to be part of it.’
Santa, 49, who is married to historian Simon Sebag-Montefiore, adds: ‘In my 20s, I was a man’s girl, the sort who had lots of male friends, preferring male to female company. In my 30s, I hung out mostly with my husband and other couples. In my 40s, things changed: I became a girls’ girl.’