The sister of Sir Philip Green has opened up about their relationships for the first time, describing how their ’emotionally absent’ parents favoured her younger brother, leading to a lifetime of tension between the siblings.
Elizabeth Green’s upcoming memoir Not In The Script, details the 72-year-old’s privileged but difficult upbringing in South London, her colourful life and her relationship with her high-profile sibling, who is three years younger than her.
She describes how, during a family Christmas around 15 years ago, the Arcadia boss looked at his gift from her and ‘suddenly’ shouted, ‘Is this what you buy me? A book? After everything I do for you. Why didn’t you get me a tie?’
The billionaire Topshop chief has given Elizabeth – who lives a modest life in New York when she runs a vegan restaurant – financial support in the past, although she insists the amount is ‘not extraordinary’.
The mother-of-three also opens up about a childhood which was scarred by the shock of her father dying from a heart attack when she was just 15 and how her ‘tough’ mother favoured Sir Philip, but starved them both of emotional attention.
Speaking to FEMAIL ahead of the book’s release, Elizabeth also detailed how she was often not invited to his luxurious celebrity parties and claims Sir Philip barred her from his Jewish marriage blessing at his home, telling her, ‘I don’t want you there, you’re a nuisance’.
Elizabeth Green, 72, the sister of billionaire businessman Sir Philip Green, has opened up on her tempestuous relationship with her brother in a tell-all book and also in an interview with FEMAIL. Pictured: Elizabeth (left), with Sir Philip and their mother Alma, in 2001
The mother-of-three begins her book by describing how she was brought up in a ‘cold climate, and I don’t mean the weather.’
Elizabeth was born in Croydon, South London, before her Jewish entrepreneur parents, Alma and Simon, moved the family to Hampstead Garden Suburb in North London when she was eight.
She details that whilst she had a ‘big house, food, a private school and nannies’, her parents were ‘absent, physically and mentally’ – something she described as ‘middle class neglect.’
Whilst her father owned an electrical shop, her mother – who Elizabeth described as a ‘tough lady’ – owned laundrettes and a petrol station.
Elizabeth told FEMAIL how Sir Philip, who was sent to a Jewish boarding school when he was just eight, was given priority in the family.
She said, ‘It wasn’t a warm, fuzzy family. My mother was quite a tough lady.
‘In many cultures, the boy is the be all and end all of everything. So once you had a son that was it.
‘Even from when he was young, he got prominence. That is very typical in a Jewish family.
‘So if you’re brought up in a family where you’re not as important, you decide you’re not worthy.’
The mother-of-three also opened up about a childhood which was scarred by the shock of her father dying from a heart attack when she was just 15 and how her ‘tough’ mother favoured Philip but starved them both of emotional attention. Pictured: Elizabeth and Sir Philip with their parents Simon and Alma during Christmas in Bournemouth in the 1960s
Asked about the impact of the death of her father, who ‘dropped dead of a heart attack on the kitchen floor whilst getting a snack’, Elizabeth said, ‘when one of your parents dies at that age it is devastating.
‘My father was more like the one who understood me. He was on my team more. It seemed.’
After Elizabeth left home at 18, her life took a very different path to her businessman brother, purusing a hippy existence including a stint with a free love cult in India.
Elizabeth won’t be drawn on her brother’s controversies, saying only that, ‘I haven’t always agreed with everything he does but that’s not my business.’
Elizabeth is candid in her upcoming book
However, she details in her book her difficult personal relationship with the businessman, who has socialite children Chloe, 29, and Brandon, 27, with wife Tina, 71.
She describes often not being invited to his ‘luscious’ parties, in which the wealthy businessman has cavorted with celebrities including model Kate Moss and Leonardo Di Caprio.
One of the few Christmases which Elizabeth and her children spent with Sir Philip, Tina, Chloe and Brandon was at the Dorchester Hotel in London.
Setting the scene of the moment that gifts were handed out, she describes how the family were sitting around a ‘huge table’, whilst the ‘Filipino maids are sitting at their own table in the corner.’
Whilst her children were given iPods by Sir Philip, Elizabeth says she opened her package and ‘out falls a tiny Gucci bag, almost doll size. Now I had to look happy and excited. I wanted an iPod.’
She had bought ‘Philip the billionaire’ a book by a comedian, in the hope that it was ‘thoughtful and appropriate’.
But after opening the present, she says he screamed at her in front of family and the few friends who were there, demanding to know why she didn’t buy him ‘something useful’, such as ‘a tie’, ‘even from Marks & Spencer.’
When Chloe decided something there was no fighting or reasoning with her. She had Philip, her father, round her little finger. ‘I was a tiny bit intimidated on her arrival, knowing anything I did wrong would get straight back to my disapproving brother.
She adds, ‘I don’t know which way to turn and everybody freezes. Tina just keeps sipping.
‘Simon stands up and says to him, and the whole room “Don’t shout at my mum, she didn’t do anything wrong leave her alone.”
‘My mother grabs him. “Sit down, don’t interfere, stop.” Philip is about to turn on him, so he sits down abruptly.’
Elizabeth then explains that she felt ‘crushed’ by the experience.
Speaking to FEMAIL, Elizabeth said, ‘It was just Philip being Philip.
‘He didn’t feel valued or thanked or all of the above.’
And at Sir Philip’s main wedding celebration, Elizabeth said she requested to sit with his close friends rather than the ‘aged relatives.’
She said, ‘I sat with them and they didn’t know I existed. They were his friends. They didn’t know he had a sister.’
Elizabeth says she was then not invited to his marriage blessing.
‘We had a confrontation on the phone, I said to him “why can’t I come to your wedding?”, he said “I don’t want you there, you’re a nuisance,”‘ she said.
‘It was nice to have it put on table like that. I was upset and then I wasn’t upset.’
Writing of Chloe’s influence on Sir Philip, she recounts an occasion where she wanted to join Elizabeth and her children, who were on holiday in Spain in Sir Philip’s flat.
Elizabeth’s daughter Georgia was initially staying with Chloe on Sir Philip’s boat and was set to fly to Spain to be with her mother and siblings.
Elizabeth claims that Sir Philip told Chloe that if she did not do her homework, ‘I’ll make you go to Spain with Georgia.’
But she adds that Chloe had packed her bags before he had finished speaking so the businessman ‘had no choice’ but to let her go.
‘When Chloe decided something there was no fighting or reasoning with her. She had Philip, her father, round her little finger,’ she writes.
‘So they were flown on Philip’ private plane, and Chloe got their driver, on her command, to stop on the way from the airport to buy them sweets.
‘I was a tiny bit intimidated on her arrival, knowing anything I did wrong would get straight back to my disapproving brother.’
In 2007, a huge party was held at the Four Seasons Hotel to mark the 90th birthday of Philip and Elizabeth’s mother.
Elizabeth explains in her book that it was actually her mother’s 89th birthday but Sir Philip and Tina told her that ‘plans were so far along’ for it that they brought it forward.
‘I don’t think we were ever particularly close. ‘He went in one direction and I went in another direction.
She was serenaded at the event by Canadian singer Paul Anka, who wrote Frank Sinatra’s hit My Way.
She describes a ‘divide in the room’ between her mother’s table – which she did not sit at – and those of other family and friends, set against ‘all my brother’s people’ on the other side of the room.
‘The movers and shakers in business, a Lord, a couple of Knights of the realm, and the rich people,’
‘The well dressed rich people, the people who thought they were all really something.’
The evening saw Anka invite elderly Alma, who died in 2015, on stage before he sang a version of My Way with the words personalised to her.
Elizabeth writes of the performance, ‘It is so moving, I watch to see if it touches her, but hers is pretty much the only dry eye in the house.
‘She’s never been one to show any feelings, she hates the limelight, so she pretends.
‘She gave a wry smile as I put her in her seat on the stage, a shrug and a grimace, as if to say I didn’t ask for this. A couple of his lyrics make her laugh, she doesn’t laugh too much either. A woman of iron.’
Asked if she has been financially supported by her brother, Elizabeth said, ‘He helped me out. It is not extraordinary.’
However, a line in her book reads, ‘I will have it tattooed on my a***, “thank you Philip, thank you for looking after me, for paying for me, for bankrolling me, for giving me money……and giving me grief, much grief.”
Another reads, ‘I will not allow myself to be screamed at any more’.
‘By the billionaire, nor his wife, nor his children, nor his forebears, nor my forefathers. Nor anyone…..’
Elizabeth was born in Croydon, South London, before her Jewish entrepreneur parents moved the family to Hampstead Garden Suburb in North London when she was eight. Pictured: The woman as a little girl
But Elizabeth did also tell FEMAIL that Sir Philip had a ‘fabulous relationship with her children with they were smaller, he was close to them.’
And she said of Tina that she has ‘always been very, very supportive.’
Expanding a little more on her relationship with her sibling, who she now rarely talks to, she said, ‘I don’t think we were ever particularly close.
‘He went in one direction and I went in another direction.
‘I talk to Tina more than I speak to Philip. I guess my family are quite strong characters.
‘My brother does things the way he does them. He has a lot of resolve and works very hard.
‘People like [Richard] Branson, they work bloody hard. And then you get lucky or you don’t get lucky.’
When FEMAIL approached Sir Philip for comment about the memoir, he said: ‘I don’t know anything about it and don’t want to get involved.
‘This is the first I’ve heard of it, I can’t comment on something I know nothing about.’
In addition to her relationship with her brother, Elizabeth’s book also details how she had her first sexual encounter at the age of 14 during her family’s last holiday – in Jersey – before her father’s death.
Elizabeth describes in her memoir the moment her brother ‘screamed’ at her during a rare family Christmas because she bought him a book, rather than ‘something useful’. Pictured: Sir Philip with his wife Tina and socialite daughter Chloe, 29
She writes that there were ‘gorgeous Italian waiters’ at the hotel her family were staying in who ‘wanted to play with me, even though I was a young 14.’
She says that although she was not ‘provocatively dressed,’ it ‘did not stop me from my sexual exploits and I played around.
Her father spoke to one of the men to ‘tell him to behave with his daughter.’
But Elizabeth adds, ‘the guy was in the clear, I was the one leading him on, we did everything a couple could do except…. f***!
‘I knew this was what I wanted and it made me feel wanted, and loved. At first I really did think it was love.
‘Then I knew it wasn’t, it was just sex. But it was still nice, made me feel good.’
Explaining how she ‘wanted some acknowledgement’ after her father’s death, which ‘wasn’t coming’ from her mother, Elizabeth left home aged 18.
She describes in her book how during the ‘sizzling ’70s’ she lived as a ‘middle class squatter’ in a house in Finsbury Park, North London.
‘The squat was an uninhabited house which we broke into, fixed up a little, got the electricity working and lived there,’ she wrote.
‘Owned by the local council, we lived rent free and the police had limited powers to move us on.’
Speaking about the experience, she told FEMAIL, ‘It was the thing. I was a middle-class squatter, I had a little car. You hook up the electricity and the water.
‘I was a child of my time.’
She went on to study sociology at North Western Polytechnic in Highbury, North London.
Elizabeth also gained a teaching qualification and taught social studies and English for a year in what she described as a ‘nightmare’ comprehensive school.
But she then made the radical decision in 1976 to go to India and become a ‘disciple’ and ‘follower’ of infamous Indian ‘free love’ guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who is the subject of popular Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country.
In 1981, Rajneesh, whose practices included naked meditation and group sex, moved to Oregon and created a commune on a sprawling ranch before his followers were implicated in the US’s largest ever bioterror attack.
Elizabeth said of her experience in India, ‘I was guess it was something exciting and different. 40 years ago it was pretty daring.
Elizabeth (pictured left in 1976) made the radical decision in 1976 to go to India and become a ‘disciple’ and ‘follower’ of infamous Indian ‘free love’ guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (right), who is the subject of popular Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country
‘To go and follow a guru was pretty out there,’ she said.
‘All the sides of it were open, you sit on a rug and listen to the lecture. One of his biggest things was that a life without love is not a life worth living.
‘The peace that I then came to was that it you can’t look for love out there you have to look within. If you lucky in the early days Darshan, which meets meeting.
‘You would sit round him at his feet he would call you forward and he would say “what is your question”.
‘The rest of the day they would give you a job. The point of it was that while you were doing the job you would be looking inside yourself. It was about one’s self-awareness. ‘
Elizabeth also revealed that during her time in India she had a relationship with married Indian film director Mahesh Bhatt, who she said also became a follower of Rajneesh.
On her return to England, in 1978, Elizabeth worked for a homeopathic practitioner – Dr Sharma – and went and lived above his practice in the West End of London.
Sir Philip, who lives in Monaco and owns three luxury yachts as well as a private jet, is well-known as the boss of Arcadia, which owns huge brand names including Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins. Pictured: The billionaire with his wife
Despite homeopathy coming under attack from doctors and scientists who say there is no scientific basis that it works, Elizabeth insisted the treatment – which involves giving patients tiny amounts of natural substances to trigger the body’s natural healing process – works for her.
She said, ‘From that day on I never took any medication again, I only took homeopathic medicine.
‘So I never took an aspirin or antibiotics. It works for me. It works. If people don’t understand it, they want to push it to one side.’
Not In The Script will be available for sale later this month
After living with the homeopath for a year, Elizabeth said she met her husband – David – whom she went on to have children Simon, 35, Georgia, 32, and Jacob, 30, with.
The couple married in 1983 and were together until they divorced in 2007.
Elizabeth describes in the first chapter of her book the ‘lightbulb’ moment in which she decided to leave her husband.
She writes that she was standing in the back garden of her North London home with David on the day before their wedding anniversary.
She ‘tentatively’ asked him how he wanted to celebrate.
‘Celebrate, why would I want to celebrate with you?,’ he allegedly replied.
She then told him, ‘You know I think I’m done here, I’d like a divorce.’
She continues in the book, ‘I’d paid my dues, stayed together for the sake of the kids. They knew what was going on and nothing was going to surprise them.
‘We had come full circle, all the qualities he had liked in me, admired in me, were now the things he hated.
‘I won’t use the word “love” I’m not sure we did, love each other, I was never “in love” with him.’
Asked if she has been financially supported by her brother, Elizabeth (pictured left in 2008 and right when she was aged 20) said, ‘He helped me out. It is not extraordinary’
Elizabeth, who did not want to expand on the passage when asked by FEMAIL, then describes in the book a dalliance with a long-time friend, Anthony.
‘That moment when you get into bed with someone who cares, who likes you, who wants to hold you and love you, I had forgotten how that felt,’ she writes.
‘That warmth, I’m young again, we’re lusty and loving, Anthony, who’s now carrying a few extra pounds, not as nimble as he was, but my heart is singing.’
She said that the couple then woke up to ‘newspapers full of my brother. My brother’s knighthood, what a star, my mother is kvelling! So proud.’
Asked why she wrote her book, she said, ‘I didn’t write the book to be scurrilous. I wrote it because I wanted to be a writer.
‘Writing this book is my baby. I didn’t undertake it lightly.
‘It is about staying strong and standing up for yourself. Don’t ever give up. Don’t take things personally. Always be your best self.’
Elizabeth moved to New York in 2009 and bought a burger bar which she turned into a restaurant, Planted, in 2013.
Due to the coronavirus crisis, inside dining only opened again earlier this week, for the first time since March.
Elizabeth added, ‘I moved to a country that I wasn’t brought up in and started a business in a country which wasn’t my country.
‘I had no business experience. And I chose the hardest business you could get into.
‘To run an independent restaurant on your own in New York City as a woman is no mean feat.’
Mahesh Bhatt was approached for comment.
Not In The Script, by Elizabeth Green, will be available in print from mid-October.