David Cameron famously resigned in 2008 as a member of gentlemen’s club White’s in protest at its refusal to admit women members.
But I can reveal that the oldest and most rigidly traditional of all London’s clubs is suspending convention to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
It’s holding a lavish dinner at which members’ wives will be welcome. ‘It’s almost a revolution,’ jokes one member. ‘The club didn’t feel that it could celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee without any women present, but it’s caused chaos because there is not enough room on the premises to accommodate them all.’
‘All the places were booked in about half an hour,’ I’m told. This privilege comes at a vertiginous price — £225-a-head. Not that that’s a consideration for members of the exclusive St James’s establishment, who include ebullient hedge fund tycoon Crispin Odey.
I can reveal that the oldest and most rigidly traditional of all London’s clubs is suspending convention to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
The Queen first visited the club in 1991 and returned in 2016 with Prince Philip for a lunch to celebrate her 90th birthday.
Princes Charles and William are members at White’s, where former PM Cameron’s father Ian was once chairman. But even in the 21st century the club, which specialises in game dishes and is rarely called upon to serve one of its vegetarian options for lunch, refuses to move with the times and admit women members.
Interestingly, Cameron has been spotted at the club, founded in 1693, several times since his departure from Downing Street. However, his office has insisted that he has not renewed his membership.
The Queen seldom crosses the threshold of gentlemen’s clubs. Annabel’s is said to be the only nightclub she has ever visited. She popped in for a party there in 2003, when she sipped a gin martini.
Princes Charles and William are members at White’s. The Queen seldom crosses the threshold of gentlemen’s clubs. Annabel’s is said to be the only nightclub she has ever visited
The 28-year-old turned up at the amFAR gala at the Cannes festival in a striking red latex outfit
Camille ditches Paris chic for racy red latex
As Lily Collins’s love rival in Netflix ‘guilty pleasure’ Emily In Paris, Camille Razat epitomises the chic sartorial elegance for which French women are renowned. Off screen, her fashion is rather more daring.
The 28-year-old turned up at the amFAR gala at the Cannes festival in a striking red latex outfit.
‘I’m more edgy in real life than my Emily In Paris character and more rock ’n’ roll,’ she tells me. ‘Tonight, the theme was a sci-fi character, so I thought this was the perfect fit.’
The smart set’s talking about… Testino’s rehabilitation
Celebrated for taking some of the most charming photographs of Princess Diana
Celebrated for taking some of the most charming photographs of Princess Diana, Mario Testino was dropped by Vogue and shunned by many after he was accused of misconduct, including sexual assault, by 13 male models and assistants.
The Peruvian denied the allegations and he is now making a surprising return to London society, with the help of the granddaughter of Rolling Stone Keith Richards.
Model Ella Richards, 25, made a point of inviting Testino to a cocktail party she hosted this week at No.9 Cork Street in Mayfair as part of denim brand DL1961’s Indigo exhibition.
She was joined by pals including Princess Maria-Olympia of Greece, a goddaughter of Prince Charles, and fashion icon Daphne Guinness.
‘Mario’s been welcomed back like a prodigal son,’ a fashion source tells me.
Hollywood stars might be expected to have factotums to attend to their every need, but Halle Berry is happy to do the chores
Bond girl Halle goes undercover … on trip to Sainsbury’s!
Hollywood stars might be expected to have factotums to attend to their every need, but Halle Berry is happy to do the chores.
The Oscar winner, 55, was spotted laden down with bags of groceries after visiting a branch of Sainsbury’s in West London.
Wearing ripped jeans and a bomber jacket, she was helped by her pop musician boyfriend Van Hunt, 52.
Former Bond girl Berry, who has an estimated fortune of £70 million, is staying in the capital while shooting Netflix spy film Our Man From Jersey, in which she stars with Mark Wahlberg.
The former model recently said it’s ‘heartbreaking’ that she remains the only black woman to have won a best actress Oscar, for her performance in 2001 film Monster’s Ball.
I’ve heard of numerous reasons for weddings being put on hold, but this is a first.
Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood was due to exchange vows with horticulturist Jonathan Myring next year, but I hear the wedding’s been postponed until the garden at their new home in Northamptonshire looks fab-u-lous for the reception.
The couple have hired designer Gillian Goodson, who’s worked on gold medal-winning show gardens at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
‘We have postponed the wedding for another two years because we want the garden to grow and look spectacular,’ Revel Horwood tells me.
‘I want it to be better than the one at the Chelsea Flower Show — and it will be. We’ve got Gillian in charge, and she is amazing.’
Girls’ night out for Sporty and Bea
Meet the real Posh Spice! Princess Beatrice joined pop star Sporty Spice, aka Melanie Chisholm, at a fashion party for one of her favourite labels.
The Queen’s 33-year-old granddaughter wore a white tweed outfit for the launch of the new Alice + Olivia by Stacey Bendet shop in Bruton Street, Mayfair. Mel C, 48, who was known for her tracksuits in the Spice Girls, sported a green cut-out dress.
During their 1990s heyday, Mel C’s bandmate Geri Halliwell once patted the bottom of Beatrice’s uncle Prince Charles at a charity gala. Ginger Spice excused her behaviour by saying ‘we’re all human’.
No one enjoyed the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations more than her grandson Peter Phillips, who came up with the idea of a lunch for 10,000 people in The Mall at £150 a head — and subsequently saw his business trouser £750,000 for organising the bash.
But, six years on, he’s failed to pull off a similar coup as Her Majesty marks her platinum jubilee, leaving his events company, SEL UK, looking decidedly anaemic. Accounts filed this week show that its deficit rose to £252,789, up from £235,638 the previous year.
Relentlessly perky breakfast DJ Zoe Ball has ruled out exchanging vows with long-term boyfriend Michael Reed — on the advice of her son, Woody Cook.
‘I won’t be getting married again,’ she tells me at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. ‘As my son said to me: “You had one husband, mum — just once, mum.”’
Art student Woody, 21, is her first child from her 17-year marriage to Norman Cook, 58, aka DJ Fatboy Slim.
The couple also have a daughter, Nelly.
Ms Ball, 51, is the BBC’s second highest-paid presenter on £1.13 million.
Tory grandee Rifkind to wed
He turns 76 next month, but former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind is fizzing with youthful sparkle — thanks to beguiling widow Sherry Bodie. I can disclose that the couple, whose budding romance I revealed a year ago, have just got engaged, only a few months after Sir Malcolm moved into Sherry’s elegant, canal-side residence in London’s Little Venice.
‘We’ve told family and friends,’ the urbane Sir Malcolm, whose late wife, Edith, died in 2019, tells me, confirming the impending union. The prospective Lady Rifkind has three daughters. The eldest, Arabella, demonstrated that the family can cope with the clamour of public attention when she caught Prince Andrew’s eye, but emerged unscathed and married society jeweller Glenn Spiro.
Fashionable food blogger ‘Deliciously Ella’ Mills has developed a business worth an estimated £20 million, but that’s no thanks to her father, the Tory turncoat minister Shaun Woodward.
Asked for one piece of bad advice she’s been given, Ella, 31, says: ‘The worst advice I was given, it actually was from my dad, which was to give up on what I was trying to do with Deliciously Ella and get a real job.’
Ella, whose mother is supermarket heiress Camilla Sainsbury, adds: ‘I don’t blame him. It was fair enough. [But] I am obviously pleased I didn’t listen.’