Watch out, boys. . . Liz Taylor’s coming home
She has lived in Mayfair, Manhattan, Beverly Hills and Bel Air — not to mention a home in Mexico’s beach paradise of Puerto Vallarta, where Richard Burton, whom she married and divorced twice, had a heart-shaped bath installed for her.
But her childhood home in Hampstead Garden Suburb, North London, was where Elizabeth Taylor spent the happiest time of her life. And now, I can reveal, Dame Elizabeth, who recently returned to Britain for the unveiling of a new bust of Burton, has stayed on in the country to house-hunt.
‘I have always loved Hampstead and I want to live there again,’ says Liz, who astonished diners when she made a dramatic entrance by river at the Michelin-starred Waterside Inn overlooking the Thames in Bray, Berkshire.
UK visit: Dame Elizabeth Taylor with Prince Charles at the recent unveiling of a bust of actor Richard Burton
Liz, 78, and three chums stayed for three hours at the restaurant, happily chatting to fellow guests.
The actress, who has said that her youthful days in Wildwood Road near Hampstead Heath were her happiest, told a fellow diner: ‘I was born there, you know. People forget I am English. I have always loved Hampstead and I want to live there again.’
She also revealed that, despite speculation, she has no plans to marry for the ninth time. ‘Ha!’ she snorted. ‘It’s not true.’ Of reports linking her to her manager, Jason Winters, 49, Dame Elizabeth said: ‘Don’t believe everything you read.’
The Waterside Inn has entertained the Queen and Prince Philip in the past. But even so, its Italian-born manager, Diego Masciaga, was in awe of Dame Elizabeth.
House hunting: Liz Taylor is looking for a new home in this country
‘There was a hush when she arrived,’ he tells me. ‘Everyone stopped talking. She is a very special lady. We thought she would stay about an hour, but she stayed until 5pm. Everyone else had left.
‘I didn’t want to tower over her in her wheelchair, so I got down on my knees to take her order — saddle of baby lamb, rhubarb souffle and seven or eight small cheeses. I was level with her wonderful violet eyes.’
She drank champagne and, I am told, faithfully re-applied her lipstick between courses as true movie stars do.
‘She even made a risque joke about the singer Marianne Faithfull,’ says another guest.
‘ “The Mars bar girl? She slept with Mick Jagger, but who hasn’t slept with Mick Jagger?” ’
The booking had been made a few days earlier, and Liz had wanted to travel
all the way by river from Central London. ‘I had to explain that with all the locks and the speed limit on the Thames, it would take her around two days to get here,’ explains Masciaga. ‘So they booked a wonderful wooden steamboat from Runnymede.’
Kelly’s formula fun
Showing her sea legs: Kelly on the yacht in Monaco yesterday
It is only a few months until Kelly Brook boards a plane with her long-term beau, rugby player Danny Cipriani, to leave British shores for good.
But the lingerie model — who is moving to Australia at the end of the summer when her boyfriend joins Melbourne Rebels — is making the most of the entertainment Europe has to offer.
Yesterday, she was in Monte Carlo — without Cipriani, who has a broken thumb — enjoying the glitz and glamour of the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Accompanied by cosmetics tycoon Tania Fossey, Kelly joined radio mogul Ashley Tabor, her manager Jonathan Shalit and his fiancee Katrina Sedley aboard Hurricane Run, a yacht owned by Tabor’s businessman father, Michael.
‘She stood to watch the race wearing headphones and earpieces to block out the sound,’ I am told. 'She certainly seemed to enjoy it.’
It was an action-packed weekend for Kelly. The previous evening, she had been at the opening of David Furnish’s new club, Royale, as well as Flavio Briatore’s Billionaire’s Club, where guests included Prince Albert and Boris Becker.
Now that David and Samantha Cameron are to be based in Downing Street, former neighbours in North Kensington are wondering what will become of their house.
It is understood the couple do not want to sell the semi-detached property, which would bring in at least £3,000 a month in rental income — useful moolah for a Prime Minister who’s just taken a 5 per cent pay cut.
However, the well-off couple are concerned that such an arrangement might lay them open to accusations of greed. But if they opt to keep it as an occasional second base away from the rigours of Westminster, taxpayers will foot the bill for round-the-clock security.
Judge taken off barracks trial
A High Court judge who insisted the Emir of Qatar must give evidence in a case brought by property tycoons Christian and Nick Candy has been unexpectedly sidelined for the trial, which begins today.
Mr Justice Peter Smith, 58, presided at the preliminary hearings, in which he warned the Qataris that the Emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, must testify about his role in the withdrawal of the planning application for the £3billion Chelsea Barracks scheme or it would be assumed by the court that the Emir did, indeed, order it.
The Candys are claiming the Qataris are in breach of contract and must pay them £68.5million.
The Qataris are counter-claiming, accusing the brothers of bad faith.
They are understood to have been extremely unhappy with Justice Smith’s handling of the case, which at one stage offered the prospect of Prince Charles, who opposed the scheme, being forced to give evidence.
Justice Smith, who heard the Da Vinci Code copyright case, has a controversial record. He was investigated by the Office For Judicial Complaints for refusing to stand aside in a case in 2007, and he later received a reprimand from the Lord Chief Justice.
Today’s trial will now be heard by Sir Geoffrey Vos QC, former chairman of the Bar Council.
Society girl and her Swede-heart
The Roedean-educated society girl Saskia Boxford, former squeeze of the Chancellor George Osborne’s colourful younger brother Theo, is to marry.
Her husband-to-be, I can reveal, is Swedish-born actor and businessman Gunnar Winbergh, 33. The couple have been dating for eight months.
Marrying early next year: Gunnar and Saskia
Former model Saskia, who was once wrongly linked to Chelsea footballer Frank Lampard, tells me: ‘He asked me to marry him by getting down on one knee in our apartment in Dubai — he couldn’t do it in a public place as Dubai does not allow public displays of affection.’
Saskia, 24, who is a director of the Kara Ross fashion company, quips: ‘I threw my arms around him after he proposed — if we’d done it outside, we probably would have been arrested!’
The couple plan to wed early next year, and will divide their time between the Gulf and London.
Greg Hands, Tory MP for Chelsea and Fulham, naturally spent Saturday at the FA Cup final watching Chelsea beat Portsmouth to complete the Cup and Premier League double.
But he wisely resisted the temptation to board the team bus to join them on their victory parade through the streets of West London yesterday, having learned his lesson when the club won the FA Cup 12 months ago.
‘Turned down the offer,’ reports Hands. ‘Last time, I endured fans chanting: “Who the ****ing hell are you?”’
David Cameron’s decision to dispense with motorcycle outriders may prove to be somewhat short-sighted.
‘The first time he is late for an audience with the Queen because the Downing Street car can’t get through the traffic will probably be his last,’ says a royal insider. ‘She likes her Prime Ministers to be punctual.’
It was Princess Margaret who first started using police escort riders in the Seventies.
‘She was the patron saint of Scotland Yard’s special-escort group,’ recalls an old hand. ‘And they all came to Kensington Palace to have their picture taken with her, which was then displayed prominently on the wall at their headquarters in Barnes.’
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