EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Camilla's first husband mourns death of his friend

EXCLUSIVE EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Queen Camilla’s first husband Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles mourns the death of the man he describes as ‘the best company in the world’ who reached out to him after four of his men were killed by an IRA bomb

He has, for decades, scrupulously refrained from uttering a word in public about his family or any of his friends. But today Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles makes an exception, following the death of the man he describes as ‘the best company in the world’.

In a heartfelt tribute, Parker Bowles – first husband and steadfast friend of Queen Camilla – recalls, in particular, the darkest hour of his life, on July 20 1982, when, as Commanding Officer of the Household Cavalry Regiment, four of his men and seven horses were killed by an IRA bomb.

In the attack’s aftermath, he received a letter from Ireland which he has kept ever since. ‘Hang on. I’ll get it,’ he tells me, before reading its opening paragraph. ‘Dear Andrew, It’s a long time since we’ve been in touch. I’m only sorry that it’s such a dreadful event that should put us in touch again. It may be difficult for you to understand the revulsion that is felt by the ordinary person in this country for the scum that killed, supposedly in the name of Ireland.’

The writer was his friend Jonathan Irwin, who died on Sunday aged 82. At the time, Irwin, a buccaneering, Old Etonian Anglo-Irishman, was managing director of Goffs, Ireland’s bloodstock auctioneers and, as Parker Bowles puts it, ‘a big figure there, involved in running racing in Ireland. He said: ‘We’d like to buy horses to replace the ones that were killed’.’

Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles has broken his silence to pay tribute to the ‘proper man’ who helped him in his darkest hour (Pictured: Parker-Bowles and Princess Anne At An Event In Hyde Park, London)

Old Etonian Anglo-Irishman Jonathan Irwin died on Sunday aged 82

It was a remarkable offer. ‘I was very touched. Things were very difficult in Ireland at the time.’

Irwin was true to his word. ‘He pulled everyone together and got his board to agree to give us £50,000.’

Irwin’s assertion about the revulsion felt by ‘the ordinary person’ in Ireland also proved correct. Parker Bowles received letter after letter from Ireland expressing contempt for the IRA, many with postal orders enclosed. ‘Another £40,000 came in. Having got the cheques and discussed it with Jonathan, we decided that a better thing to do would be to give it to the families of those who had been killed.’

But the Household Cavalry’s new horses – bought by the Ministry of Defence – did come from Ireland. ‘Probably 95 per cent of the black horses still do,’ Parker Bowles reflects.

His friend endured the loss of one of the sons by his first marriage, to Mikaela Rawlinson, daughter of the late Attorney General Lord Rawlinson, and two more from his second marriage, to Mary Ann O’Brien.

But he and Mary Ann established the Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation – ‘a wonderful charity,’ Parker Bowles says. ‘Jonathan was charming, he was amusing – the best company in the world. And, if he believed in a cause, it wasn’t talk, it was action. He was an action man. A proper man.’

Known for his no-nonsense demand to ‘give us the money’ during Live Aid, Bob Geldof could be forgiven for making the same plea now, as his company has lost £1.6 million on investments.

The dishevelled rock star, 72, saw the value of Bcraft Ltd drop from £20.8 million to £19.2 million, and accounts put it down to tumbling assets.

Newly released figures show that the losses all stem from his investments, which diminished by £12.6 million to £11 million.

Dishevelled rock star Bob Geldof, 72, has seen his company lose £1.6 million in investments

Lady Helen joins carols flock – as a shepherd!

Muse to Giorgio Armani for 17 years, Lady Helen Taylor grew tired of wearing only his muted designs to public engagements, once remarking: ‘There’s a limit to how many navy jackets and white shirts you can wear in a year.’ Now freed from her contract with the Italian fashion house, the Duke and Duchess of Kent’s daughter, 59, is drawing inspiration from a more diverse range of sources. 

Lady Helen Taylor, 59, wore a pink and red dress, with yellow string tied at her waist, from high-street chain Jigsaw’s collaboration with Roksanda

This week, she turned up at a Christmas carol concert at Christ Church Kensington, West London, in a colourful, draped dress not dissimilar to that worn by a shepherd in a nativity play. Lady Helen’s dress was from high-street chain Jigsaw’s collaboration with designer Roksanda. Beneath her dress she wore a sparkly silver turtleneck jumper, also by Jigsaw, and a pair of platform boots that certainly couldn’t be found in Bethlehem 

A big day for Forte’s little girl

Hotels heiress Irene Forte has made her own name with a successful skincare brand, but her focus this week was on holy water. Her eight-month-old daughter, Alisea, was christened at Farm Street Roman Catholic church in Mayfair. 

Hotels heiress Irene Forte christened her eight-month-old daughter, Alisea, at Farm Street Roman Catholic church in Mayfair

The godparents included Petra Palumbo, daughter of Lord (Peter) Palumbo, a property developer who was a confidant of Princess Diana. ‘An important day for our special Alisea — the star of the show,’ says Irene, daughter of Sir Rocco Forte. Oxford-educated Irene, 34, married tech boss Felix Winckler, 38, in Sicily in 2021 in a lavish wedding attended by her close friend Princess Eugenie. 

Shoplifters target royal tailor Fedro

London’s shoplifting epidemic has even reached Savile Row, where King Charles buys his suits. Fedro Gaudenzi, who creates bespoke outfits for clients including members of the Royal Family, says a £25,000 jumpsuit was stolen straight from the rail of his atelier off Savile Row last Saturday by two well-dressed women — and he’s appealing for its safe return. 

London’s shoplifting epidemic has even reached Savile Row (pictured), where King Charles buys his suits

The unique garment took more than 2,400 hours to make and features 49 yards of premium silk chiffon. Gaudenizi says the garment had no price tag. ‘They must have just seen the piece in the window and really liked it,’ he tells me. ‘I don’t think they stole it to resell — I think they wanted to wear it out or for social media pictures.’ The thieves are said to have smuggled the delicate jumpsuit out of the shop in a Louis Vuitton handbag 

Joe Wicks became the nation’s favourite PE teacher during lockdown, but he seems to have been a nasty piece of work at school. ‘I don’t think I was always the nicest guy when I was a teenager, especially to girlfriends and stuff,’ admits the burpee-loving Body Coach guru, 38.

Joe Wicks became the nation’s favourite PE teacher during lockdown, but he seems to have been a nasty piece of work at school

‘I could have been friendlier and more polite. I was also quite cocky and ‘lairy’ at school.’

He adds: ‘That’s all part of growing up, and you learn from your mistakes. Now, I’m always nice and respectful to everyone I meet.’

Emilia spills love secrets

Mills & Boon, eat your heart out! Silent Witness star Emilia Fox says of her boyfriend, TV producer Jonathan Stadlen, 44: ‘We go to bed and tell each other how much we love each other every night. ‘We’ve been together nearly three years and we still do it.’ Fox, 49, who was previously married to Mad Men star Jared Harris, 62, says: ‘We very much feel like we’re married, but we’re not married. ‘We choose to marry each other every day, not in an official capacity but by choice of being with each other. So it’s a daily marriage of love.’ 

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