The Coronation, now just three weeks away, will be seen by many as a display of splendid pageantry and tradition – and by critics as a blast of flummery and fanfare. But, to King Charles, it evidently represents a unique chance to begin a new era – one quite distinct from that of his late mother, Queen Elizabeth.
Nowhere, I can reveal, will this be more starkly apparent than in the exclusion from the service in Westminster Abbey of most of the grandest aristocrats in the land, along with almost all their fellow hereditary peers. Even most of the 24 non-royal dukes – the most senior rank in the peerage – are not exempt from the cull, despite the fact that one of their number, the Duke of Norfolk, is orchestrating every detail of the Coronation in his role as Earl Marshal.
The Duke of Rutland, who lives in one wing of his 365-room family seat, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, while his wife, Emma, lives in another, is one of the many dismayed and bewildered by their exclusion. ‘I have not been asked,’ he tells me, saying that he does ‘not really understand’ why. ‘It has been families like mine that have supported the Royal Family over 1,000 years or thereabouts,’ adds the Duke, who has two sons and three lively daughters, Lady Violet, Lady Alice and Lady Eliza Manners.
His own father, Charles, the 10th Duke, attended two coronations – Queen Elizabeth’s, at which, irked by a remark by Lord Mowbray about ‘upstart dukes’, he hid Mowbray’s coronet, and her father, George VI‘s, when the Manners family seemed to be everywhere. Charles and his younger brother, Lord John Manners, were Page of Honour to the Duke of Gloucester and Lord Ancaster, the Lord Great Chamberlain, respectively, while their mother was a canopy bearer for the Queen. Their father, John, the 9th Duke, ‘carried the orb in the procession into Westminster Abbey’, as Charles’s sister, Lady Ursula, later recalled.
The Duke of Rutland, (pictured with the Duchess) who lives in one wing of his 365-room family seat, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, while his wife, Emma, lives in another, is one of the many dismayed and bewildered by their exclusion
Proud past: The Duchess posing while putting the family’s coronation robes on display
Lady Eliza Manners, Lady Violet Manners and Lady Alice Manners at the Cartier Queen’s Cup, Guard’s Polo Club, Windsor Great Park
As a Maid of Honour to the Queen, Ursula stole the show when she appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, following the service in the Abbey. ‘I was standing next to the Queen and behind the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret,’ she explained. ‘After the coronation I was recognised everywhere.’
But not only did peers attend coronations, they were required to ‘give the kiss of homage and touch the Crown’ – a vestige of feudal allegiance to the monarch, for whom, it was implied, they would fight and, if necessary, die on the field of battle.
At Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, a royal duke, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, took off his coronet, ascended the steps of the throne, knelt before the Queen, placed his hands between hers and ‘pronounced his words of homage’. He was followed by two more royal dukes, the Dukes of Gloucester and Kent.
Then it was the turn of the senior peer of each ‘degree’ – the duke, marquess, earl, viscount and baron with the oldest titles. As they ‘paid homage in like manner’, their fellow peers of the respective ‘degree’, knelt in their places in the Abbey, removed their coronets, and also said their words of homage.
Clearing out the dead wood is proving a challenge for the Queen Consort. I hear she’s been warned by Wiltshire Council about the extensive work she plans on nine huge trees at Raymill House, the Grade II-listed property that she retained as a country retreat after marrying Charles in 2005
A Buckingham Palace spokesman declines to comment, but a royal source insists that ‘a good representation of non-royal dukes will be in attendance’.
The Duke of Rutland will presumably console himself at Belvoir, where a collection of his family’s coronation robes is on display. Perhaps the disappointment will be even more acute for the Duke of Somerset. ‘He was sprucing up the family state coach,’ a chum tells me, adding that the Duke had entertained the idea of arriving in the Abbey in it. ‘He thought he might be invited, even if not all the dukes were, because his is the second oldest dukedom after Norfolk’s.’
Alas, it appears that the Duke of Somerset, whose title was created in 1547, is among those who have been discarded. After explaining to me a few weeks ago that he didn’t want to comment at ‘this stage’, he now declines to say anything at all.
Perhaps he should perk himself up by having a word with Robin Devereux, 19th Viscount Hereford, who, as premier viscount, might have expected to ‘pay homage’ on behalf of his fellow viscounts. He, too, declines to comment, but has, apparently, taken his exclusion in good heart. ‘He says he’s still waiting for his invitation,’ I’m told. ‘But he’s not upset about it. He knows that this is a new era.’
Pictured: Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire where the Duke of Rutland lives
Kerzner and crooner share loved-up snap
Heather Kerzner, the fourth and final wife of late hotels tycoon Sol Kerzner, is being serenaded by American singer Michael Bolton, who’s known for hits including How Am I Supposed To Live Without You.
U.S. born Heather, 52, is understood to have been going out with Bolton, 70, for some time.
Heather, who shared this selfie of her and Bolton on a romantic Easter holiday in Barbados, confirms they’re a couple but declines to comment further.
She has two children from her marriage to Kerzner, whom she divorced in 2011. She was later engaged to the Duchess of York’s PR man, James Henderson.
Bolton, who is rumoured to have dated Cher, was married to yoga teacher Maureen McGuire, with whom has three daughters.
Heather Kerzner, the fourth and final wife of late hotels tycoon Sol Kerzner, is being serenaded by American singer Michael Bolton
Sweeney star Diane Keen’s blast at ‘colour-blind’ casting
Bridgerton’s success helped encourage ‘colour-blind’ casting, in which black actors play the parts of characters who would probably have been white in real life.
But one of Britain’s most successful actresses, Diane Keen, finds it difficult to accept. ‘Sometimes it is very odd,’ says Keen, who starred in a string of comedy series in the 1970s and 80s such as The Cuckoo Waltz and films including Sweeney! opposite John Thaw.
In comments that will raise eyebrows, she tells me: ‘I still don’t even understand what ‘woke’ is. It’s like talking about having a coloured actor, no matter how brilliant they are, as James Bond. No. Why does it have to be? That’s one iconic part that should stay as it is, because that’s how the author wrote it.’ She adds of Ian Fleming: ‘If he wanted Bond to be African, Chinese or whatever, would he not have written that?’
Keen, 76, who appears in a tour of the play Home, I’m Darling, was particularly baffled by the casting of black actress Jodie Turner-Smith in the title role of Anne Boleyn in a Channel 5 mini-series in 2021. ‘It doesn’t make sense,’ she says. ‘It doesn’t mean it wasn’t wonderfully played, but how do you build that in to the historical line of her family? How do you have a black Anne Boleyn and not the rest of her family?’
John Thaw and Diane Keen take a break from filming full length feature film ‘Sweeney!’ in 1976
Is marriage on the menu for Marco’s boy and fashionista?
Fiery chef Marco Pierre White’s younger son, Luciano, has found the recipe for love.
I hear that Luciano, 29, who is also a restaurateur, is courting entrepreneur Stephanie Beard, 33, creator of clothing brand Silked London, whose outfits have been worn by the likes of Hollywood star Eva Longoria.
‘A light-bulb moment led me to quit my role and start to create the brand that you see today — luxury items that could be worn in multiple unknown destinations with different seasons, climates and alternating professional and social occasions,’ she has said of the company.
‘They are a power couple in the making,’ a friend tells me. ‘Marco already considers Stephanie a part of the family.’
Luciano, 29, who is also a restaurateur, is courting entrepreneur Stephanie Beard, 33, creator of clothing brand Silked London
Petra Ecclestone’s husband Sam Palmer, a former car salesman, surprised everyone this week by boasting that he’s selling a property on the Crown Estate.
‘Experience the epitome of luxury living in the prestigious Crown Estate with this exquisitely designed manor house,’ he gushed about the mansion, whose price has previously been given as a staggering £29 million.
Potential buyers should realise that 11-bedroom Hampton Hall is not part of the Crown Estate, the collection of land and holdings belonging to the British monarch. Instead, it’s in an area of Oxshott, Surrey, called Crown Estate…
Petra Ecclestone’s husband Sam Palmer, a former car salesman, surprised everyone this week by boasting that he’s selling a property on the Crown Estate
Clearing out the dead wood is proving a challenge for the Queen Consort. I hear she’s been warned by Wiltshire Council about the extensive work she plans on nine huge trees at Raymill House, the Grade II-listed property that she retained as a country retreat after marrying Charles in 2005. The council has given the green light, but added a sharp warning that an offence will be committed if protected species are disturbed at the site, which lies within a conservaton area.
So-called ‘intimacy co-ordinators’ are increasingly being hired by film makers planning to shoot nude scenes, but Jude Law says one director had an unusual way of putting actors at ease.
Brian Gilbert directed the film Wilde, in which Law played Lord Alfred Douglas opposite Stephen Fry as playwright Oscar Wilde.
‘There were love scenes in that with other men that for a 24-year-old were quite explicit and quite challenging,’ Law says. ‘Brian Gilbert was just the most wonderfully careful, caring leader on that project.
‘Very touchingly, he said, ‘OK, we’re going to rehearse the scene now, so I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable, so I’m going to take my shirt and my top off.’ Not sure that would put everyone at ease . . .
Brian Gilbert directed the film Wilde, in which Law played Lord Alfred Douglas opposite Stephen Fry as playwright Oscar Wilde
(Very) modern manners
They might be man’s best friend but pets being allowed to sleep with their owners has left Jake Fiennes disgusted.
‘Dogs in the bed? Absolutely appalling,’ growls Fiennes, head of conservation at the Holkham Hall Estate, Norfolk seat of the Earl of Leicester. Jake, the brother of Oscar winner Ralph Fiennes and twin of Joseph, consigns his spaniel, Logan, to a crate overnight.
Among those whose pampered pooches join them in bed are Lady (Carole) Bamford and Philip Mould, co-host of Fake Or Fortune.