Only the ill-advised would tangle with lawyers Fiona ‘Steel Magnolia’ Shackleton, who represented Prince Charles in his divorce from Princess Diana, or the formidable Helen Ward, who secured a jaw-dropping £50 million for Guy Ritchie when he split with Madonna.
But the High Court custody battle between the billionaire ruler of Dubai, who retained the services of Lady Ward , and his estranged wife, Princess Haya, who had Lady Shackleton (right) in her corner, has knocked one of them out of the ring.
I can disclose that Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum dispensed with Ward’s services before the case reached its conclusion — and the damning ruling that he had abducted his daughter while waging a campaign to intimidate his wife. ‘It is a rare reversal for Ward,’ says m’learned friend.
Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein of Jordan (left) and her lawyer, Baroness Fiona Shackleton (right), leave the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Britain, 28 February 2020. Princess Haya, the estranged wife of the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, was in court during a case about their children’s welfare
Described by lawyers’ bible The Legal 500 as ‘extraordinary and brilliant’, she is married to Sir Alan Ward, a former Court of Appeal judge. She has represented an extraordinary roll-call of clients, from Formula One billionaire Bernie Ecclestone and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber to Booker Prize-winning author Ian McEwan. All have benefited from what one former client has summarised as ‘a mind like a jewelled watch and a wise and honest heart’.
But Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia prevailed during a case estimated to have cost £5 million in legal fees. Aside from Charles, the ‘Steel Magnolia’ has represented everyone from Prince Andrew to rock star Liam Gallagher — and, most memorably, Sir Paul McCartney, whose second wife, Heather Mills, emptied a jug of water over her head.
I can disclose that Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum dispensed with Lady Helen Ward’s (pictured) services before the case reached its conclusion — and the damning ruling that he had abducted his daughter while waging a campaign to intimidate his wife.
Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, the wife of Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and her lawyer Baroness Fiona Shackleton arrive at the High Court in London, Britain, February 28, 2020
Shackleton was unmoved — and Mills left the court with a fraction of the £125 million settlement she sought.
But perhaps not even Shackleton could have secured victory for the sheikh. He has replaced Ward with up-and-coming legal talent, Catherine Bedford, who appears ready for battle.
‘I’m honest with my clients and they appreciate that,’ she said last year. ‘I will always tell it to them how it is, which they like.’ Good luck with that.
Sophie’s secret shopping mission for Her Majesty
Known to buy the occasional outfit for the Duchess of Cambridge, the Countess of Wessex is also now a ‘secret shopper’ for the Queen.
Queen Elizabeth II and Sophie, Countess of Wessex attend day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 18, 2019 in Ascot, England
Shirt-maker Emma Willis discloses that Sophie is among her customers — and she doesn’t just buy for herself.
‘I’ve made many, many clothes for the Countess of Wessex — when I used to do a full women’s collection,’ she tells me. ‘She bought a shirt for her husband, Prince Edward, once.
‘And she also bought a shirt for her mother-in-law, so I’ve made a shirt for the Queen.’
The Countess is a big supporter of the British clothes industry, Emma adds.
‘Sophie is very involved with the London College of Fashion, so she’s been involved with all their new developments.’
Jamie Oliver has a new rival — in his own home. His nine-year-old son is posting videos of his culinary skills online, and is proving more popular than his father.
Jamie Oliver has a new rival — in his own home. His nine-year-old son is posting videos of his culinary skills online, and is proving more popular than his father
Buddy started off as a guest on his father’s Instagram account, but recently he began a weekly broadcast under the inevitable hashtag #KitchenBuddies, where creations have included a Bolognese. The videos have been viewed more than a million times.
How long before Kitchen Buddies gets a TV slot? After all, the BBC handed Gordon Ramsay’s daughter Tilly her own CBBC cookery show, Matilda And The Ramsay Bunch, when she was 13.
The smart set’s talking about…Royal pal Julia’s new vows
Prince George’s godmother Julia Samuel is to marry again — but to the same man.
The distinguished psychotherapist told guests at this week’s launch party for her book, This Too Shall Pass, that she is to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her wedding to her husband Michael, of the Hill Samuel banking family, by renewing their vows.
Pic shows Samantha and David Cameron with Julia Samuel and her husband Michael Samuel
Guests included David Cameron and wife Samantha, right with the Samuels. Also invited were Julia’s sister Sabrina Guinness and brother-in-law, the Oscar-winning playwright Sir Tom Stoppard. Pals wanted to give Julia a hug or kiss to congratulate her, but had been advised to restrain themselves.
Invitations to the party at the Tabernacle, in London’s Notting Hill, had suggested that ‘with the background threat of coronavirus’ there would be ‘no handshaking or hugging’.
Julia — whose son, Ben, was the godchild of her friend Princess Diana — says she and Michael will include some new vows at their second wedding: ‘Silly things, like when we are old and decrepit I promise not to hit you with a walking stick.’
Emma’s Anya and her snapper click
Determined to play cupid as Emma in the new big-screen adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel (top), Anya Taylor-Joy has found her own match in real life.
Determined to play cupid as Emma in the new big-screen adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel (top), Anya Taylor-Joy has found her own match in real life
I can disclose that the 23-year-old American is enjoying a passionate romance with a fashionable photographer who styles himself Pip.
The Northerner — real name, Ben Seed — is pictured kissing Anya, who plays gangster Michael’s wife, Gina, in hit BBC drama Peaky Blinders.
Emma Actress Anya Taylor Joy looking very much loved up whilst out in London with her new boyfriend, Pip, a photographer who has photographed Anya on several occasions, enjoying a day out together in London
‘They make a lovely couple,’ gushes a friend of the pair, who are seen in London, where they both live.
Pip has snapped a constellation of stars including Sir Ian McKellen, Homeland’s Damian Lewis and pop star Ellie Goulding.
Anya is thought to have fallen for Pip while he was taking her picture. Sounds like another David Bailey — in more ways than one.
Shirley goes overboard
Celebrated as one of the ‘three blondes in a boat’ who sailed to victory for Team GB at the Olympics, Shirley Robertson is now planning to dive into the sea.
‘I’m going to swim the Solent this summer, to raise funds for The Samaritans,’ she tells me. Shirley, who was the first British woman to win gold medals at two consecutive Games and will work as a commentator for the BBC in Tokyo, adds: ‘I’ve spent a lifetime avoiding getting in the sea.’
Prince Harry and Meghan seem determined not to go quietly. I hear they ‘accidentally’ stumbled into an Investiture Prince Charles was holding at Buckingham Palace on Thursday. After visiting their office in the Master’s Corridor, they chose not to leave by the usual East Gallery route and instead cut through the Ballroom, where guests were waiting for their honours. ‘Harry and Meghan must have known what they were doing,’ one guest tells me. ‘Suddenly, all the chatter was about them.’ Sounds familiar.
Stub out Botox, says Imogen
Once a regular on our screens, Imogen Stubbs says she’s fallen victim to the curse of high-definition TV.
Once a regular on our screens, Imogen Stubbs says she’s fallen victim to the curse of high-definition TV
‘Now that everyone’s got TV screens the size of swimming pools, it’s not very kind to the older actor,’ says Imogen, 59.
‘I’ve never had Botox or any sort of cosmetic surgery, so I look the age I am. You see surprisingly young people who have clearly had work done and it always makes me think of bandaged feet in old China. It’s not natural.’
Named by Boris Johnson this week as one of the five women who most shaped his life, Kate Bush managed to make more than £1 million last year despite barely doing any work. Accounts for the Wuthering Heights singer’s business, Noble & Brite Ltd, showed it held profits of £2.2 million, a rise from £1.2 million the year before.
Bush has made only limited public appliances since her 22 comeback gigs in 2014 and a live album released two years later. She has not played or recorded any new material during the period of the accounts June 2018 to May last year.
Vorderman cuts up rough for Bake Off
Competing in The Great Celebrity Bake Off For Stand Up To Cancer next week, Carol Vorderman has her eye on a bigger prize.
Competing in The Great Celebrity Bake Off For Stand Up To Cancer next week, Carol Vorderman has her eye on a bigger prize
She wants to succeed the outgoing Sandi Toksvig as a presenter. ‘I’d love it,’ Carol exclaims. ‘I do less telly now, because there’s not a lot I want to do — but I’d kill for that.’ And former Countdown star Carol does have qualifications, of a kind.
‘I did O-level cookery. So I learned the fairy cake, Victoria sponge — and all the pastries: shortcrust, flaky, choux. We had an eisteddfod [Welsh cultural festival] in school every year. I always won “best cake”.’
(Very) modern manners
Think dating apps are awkward to use? They’re even more of a minefield if you have a famous face.
Just ask This Morning’s Alison Hammond. She uses them, but admits: ‘It’s so painful.’ That’s because men refuse to believe it’s really her and mistakenly think she’s a member of the public using a photo of someone else.
The 45-year-old says: ‘I get messages saying: “Why are you pretending to be Alison Hammond?” I spend half the time trying to convince people that it’s really me — and by that point, I’m over it.’