Every family has its secrets. Few, though, can match the disorientating truth which remained unknown to Polly Fry until she was 45: that her father was not, in fact, Jeremy Fry, inventor and scion of the Fry chocolate empire — but Fry’s great friend, Princess Margaret’s former husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon.
But now Polly has a secret that she is only too happy to share. I can reveal that, seven years after writing of her hopes of finding ‘a Mr Darcy’, she has found him – in the form of legendary ‘reputation manager’ Abel Hadden.
Hadden, whose clients have included the Sultan of Brunei, confirms that he and Polly are very happily entangled. ‘Yes, it’s true. We’ve known each other for about 18 months,’ he tells me.
But that’s not all. ‘We’re planning a summer wedding,’ adds Hadden who, like his fiancee, is in his 60s.
‘I proposed between Christmas and New Year in Cornwall. We are absolutely thrilled.’
Polly has a secret that she is only too happy to share. I can reveal that, seven years after writing of her hopes of finding ‘a Mr Darcy’, she has found him
Friends and family will feel that a new and happier chapter in Polly’s life is no more than she deserves. After her mother Camilla’s death, and aware of ‘endless rumours’ — and after ‘years staring at myself in the mirror and then at photographs of the two possible candidates for the role of my father’ — she decided to discover the truth.
She persuaded Lord Snowdon to join her in taking a DNA test. The rumours were true: Polly, born while Snowdon was still on honeymoon with Queen Elizabeth’s sister, was indeed his daughter.
He invited her to call him ‘Pops’, while publicly denying paternity.
Only in 2008, three years after Jeremy Fry’s death, did he finally acknowledge that he was Polly’s father. Yet Polly was unmentioned in Snowdon’s will in 2017.
By contrast, he left £250,000 to his son, Jasper, fathered out of wedlock, as a result of his affair with journalist Melanie Cable-Alexander.
Polly, whose husband, businessman Barnaby Higson, had by then left her for what she described as ‘pastures new’, attended Snowdon’s memorial service nevertheless.
There will be no shortage of family when she marries this summer. Hadden, whose first wife was Belinda, daughter of Tory MP Sir Reginald Bennett, points out: ‘We have nine children and 12 grandchildren between us.’
When Basia Briggs’s husband, Richard, died in 2021 aged 76, she might have expected the property developer’s friends to rally round and support her. However, the socialite insists too many of those men simply spotted an opportunity for ‘recreational adultery’ with her.
‘Invitations from long-standing male friends of my husband’s seemed kind to begin with,’ Prince Michael of Kent’s pal says. However, after she accepted an offer of dinner from one at Colbert restaurant in Sloane Square, West London, he refused to walk her home when she declined his offer of ‘cuddles’ at Dukes Hotel in Mayfair.
After lunch with another, who did accompany her to her home nearby, she was asked ‘if he could come in and give me a hug’. Basia replied: ‘Sorry, I don’t do hugs.’
She adds in The Oldie magazine: ‘A few days later, I got an email requesting payment for half the restaurant bill.’ Clearly, there is no such thing as a free lunch these days.
Pictured: Basia Briggs attends a private view of ‘Infinite Drama’ by Maxim at Miart Gallery
Jeremy Irons told me recently that he didn’t want to take on any more acting work, declaring: ‘At my age, I’ve done it all.’
Hopefully, the Oscar winner, 74, may be more excited about his forthcoming role as a grandfather.
I can disclose that his son Max, 37, a fellow actor who starred in the BBC’s hit historical drama The White Queen, is eagerly awaiting the birth of his first child.
His wife, Sophie Pera, 38, the creative director of Tatler magazine, is heavily pregnant. ‘Say hello to my little friend,’ she tells friends, sharing this photograph of her growing bump. ‘Due any day now.’
Max, who married Sophie in Oxfordshire in 2019, has previously talked about his hopes of a family. ‘I’ve been thinking about children,’ he said in 2020. ‘I’d love a kid, and I know my wife certainly would.’
Jeremy Irons’ son Max, 37, a fellow actor who starred in the BBC’s hit historical drama The White Queen, is eagerly awaiting the birth of his first child
Some women with a fiance in prison would keep a low profile.
Not former Made In Chelsea star Victoria Baker-Harber, who reveals she’s making a television programme about art dealer Inigo Philbrick, serving seven years in a U.S. prison for fraud. ‘I’m doing a documentary,’ the socialite tells me at a red-carpet event in Kensington, West London.
‘It’s about my fiance and his time in prison — it’s wild.’
Philbrick is fully behind the project. ‘He’s all for it,’ she says. ‘It was his idea. We start filming in the next few weeks.’
Olympic sailor’s daughter Baker-Harber, 34, has a two-year-old daughter with Philbrick, 36.
‘He didn’t murder anyone,’ she adds. ‘He put his hands up and admitted what he did do, and takes full responsibility and accountability, but everyone makes mistakes.’
Though officially Lady Haden- Guest, courtesy of the title inherited by her husband, film director Christopher Guest, Jamie Lee Curtis is refreshingly unpretentious.
Not for her a snooty attitude towards dealing with the Press and doing promotional interviews, in what the Trading Places and A Fish Called Wanda star calls ‘show-off business’.
Nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Everything Everywhere All At Once, Curtis, 64, says of being in the film industry: ‘I love all of it and I love the promotion of it.
‘I understand it’s a business. You can’t do the job we do without you the listener, or the watcher, or the buyer. It is a partnership between media and art.
‘And by the way, I love when I read that an actor or director says they “don’t do Press”. Bulls***. Because I promise you they do.’
The pomposity of certain writers has been pricked by Zadie Smith.
‘Sometimes I think we shouldn’t take political lessons from novelists, because we can be peculiar as a breed,’ the author of White Teeth says at a Night of Ideas at The Institut Francais in London.
‘I don’t have a political imagination; I have a novelist imagination.
‘I’m also aware of being peculiar when I hear people speak about the desire to belong and to be amongst their people.’
She adds: ‘That’s always going to be a problem between me and people who really believe there’s such a thing as a feminine soul or a black soul.
‘I don’t believe in these things – I believe in culture, oppression, structure situations, but not essential qualities of humans.’
When she was engaged to Orange Is The New Black star Ruby Rose, they were one of Hollywood’s hottest couples, but now Roald Dahl’s granddaughter Phoebe has surprised friends by finding love with a Frenchman.
The fashion designer, 34, is going out with a chap called Balthazar Le Bret.
‘He’s from Paris and we sailed across the Atlantic together last year,’ Phoebe tells me.
Phoebe — whose mother is Lucy Dahl, daughter of the much-loved children’s author — has shared photos of her kissing Balthazar (right), whom she describes as her ‘boyfriend’.
‘He’s very private, so she can’t say much, but she’s in love,’ one of her friends tells me.
Based in St Barts, in the West Indies, where she teaches yoga, Phoebe is the founder of ethical fashion label Faircloth & Supply.
Phoebe had said ‘it was love at first sight’ when she met Ruby Rose (top) at a barbecue in LA in 2014, which was tricky because Dahl had a girlfriend at the time. She ended that relationship the same night, then broke into the Australian actress’s house at 6am a couple of days later brandishing flowers. Ruby, 36, proposed to Phoebe after three months.
However, they split up in 2015 and Phoebe then went out with DJ and former model Tatiana de Leon.
An alumna of Wildwood, the progressive liberal arts school in Los Angeles, Phoebe has said she doesn’t define her sexuality, explaining: ‘I don’t feel the need to put any label on it.
‘I don’t think there is a limit to love.
‘I grew up in a family which believed that.
‘At my school you could be who you wanted without judgment.’
Roald Dahl’s granddaughter Phoebe has surprised friends by finding love with a Frenchman
Most mothers are still feeling frazzled three months after having a baby, but Cressida Bonas seems to have mastered the art of multi-tasking.
The actress, 33, managed to take her dachshund, Budgie Bear, for a walk near her home in West London at the same time as carrying her son, Wilbur, and a bag of shopping. All while enjoying a drink. Her tot’s tiny feet can be seen dangling out of a baby carrier in a pair of suede Ugg boots.
Last month, I revealed that Cressida and her husband, Harry Wentworth-Stanley, 33, a partner in a property investment firm, had, touchingly, given Wilbur the middle name James. Harry’s brother James died tragically when he was just 21.
Cressida features in the memoirs of Prince Harry, who was her boyfriend for two years until 2014.
Cressida Bonas, 33, managed to take her dachshund, Budgie Bear, for a walk near her home in West London at the same time as carrying her son, Wilbur
Dame Sheila Hancock formed an amusing double-act with her friend Gyles Brandreth on Celebrity Gogglebox, but Channel 4 fired her, she claims, after just one series because she complained about the filth she was expected to watch.
‘I used to love doing it with Gyles, but they sacked me — well, they did not ask me back,’ says the actress, 89, who is the widow of Morse star John Thaw. ‘It was because there were a lot of shows with penises in.
‘Eventually, I phoned up the lady on the edit and said, “I am enjoying the show, but do you think we can have anything other than penises?”
‘She was quite angry, like you are not supposed to say anything, and they did not ask me back.’
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