Tales of the unexpected as Roald Dahl's grandson…

SEBSASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Tales of the unexpected as Roald Dahl’s grandson Ned Donovan weds Princess Raiyah of Jordan… in England with almost no-one present after Covid ruled out grand event in her homeland

They envisaged a wedding of splendour in Jordan this spring, with scores of friends in attendance, only to delay their nuptials until October as the pandemic played havoc with their plans.

But now, in a twist which could have been scripted by his grandfather — king of the unexpected, Roald Dahl — journalist Ned Donovan and his bride, Princess Raiyah of Jordan, youngest daughter of the late King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan, have instead married here in England with almost no one present.

The amiable Donovan, 26-year-old son of Tessa Dahl by her second marriage to gravel-voiced boulevardier Patrick Donovan, and half-brother of writer and model Sophie Dahl, has already assumed the poise of the royal consort.

Journalist Ned Donovan (right), grandson of Roald Dahl, and his bride, Princess Raiyah of Jordan (centre), youngest daughter of the late King Hussein and Queen Noor (left) of Jordan, have instead married here in England with almost no one present

Just two photographs accompany her statement — one of them showing Ned, impeccably kitted out in morning coat and polished black Oxfords, signing the marriage certificate, while Princess Raiyah, who met Ned, eight years her junior, in India in 2018, is a picture of princessly poise in an exquisite, high-necked, long-sleeved gown with a floral lace overlay

‘God willing, we look forward to celebrating in Jordan once the situation allows,’ added Princess Raiyah, who thanks friends ‘for all your kind messages’

‘Everything we’re releasing is in Raiyah’s tweets today,’ he assures me. Princess Raiyah, who was schooled at Atlantic College in Glamorgan before taking a degree in Japanese at Edinburgh University, sheds a little light on their decision.

‘While it was originally planned for April in Jordan, the pandemic derailed those plans and it was safer for my husband’s family to hold it in the UK,’ she says.

Just two photographs accompany her statement — one of them showing Ned, impeccably kitted out in morning coat and polished black Oxfords, signing the marriage certificate, while Princess Raiyah, who met Ned, eight years her junior, in India in 2018, is a picture of princessly poise in an exquisite, high-necked, long-sleeved gown with a floral lace overlay.

The amiable Donovan, 26-year-old son of Tessa Dahl by her second marriage to gravel-voiced boulevardier Patrick Donovan, and half-brother of writer and model Sophie Dahl, has already assumed the poise of the royal consort. Pictured: Roald Dahl on ITV

‘God willing, we look forward to celebrating in Jordan once the situation allows,’ adds Princess Raiyah, who thanks friends ‘for all your kind messages’.

One comes from spirited young clergyman and author Fergus Butler-Gallie whose love of wine stems from when he ‘pilfered’ an Australian pudding wine from his parents’ drinks cupboard.

Let’s hope he makes the cut for the party at the Royal Palace in Amman.

Bride and groom’s VERY colourful (and complicated) family history

Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal (GROOM’S GRANDPARENTS)

Roald Dahl was married to American actress Patricia Neal for 30 years (m. 1953; div. 1983). Together they had five children, including Ned’s mother, Tessa. Pictured, with children Olivia, Tessa and baby Theo in 1962. Olivia died of measles that year

Roald Dahl was married to American actress Patricia Neal for 30 years (m. 1953; div. 1983). Neal died in 2010. Together they had five children, including Ned’s mother, Tessa. Roald remarried to Felicity ‘Liccy’ Dahl  in 1983 and the pair remained married until his death in 1991. Liccy is 81.  

Olivia Dahl

Roald and Patricia’s first-born daughter, Olivia (1955-1962), died aged seven from measles, before a vaccine had been developed. Dahl’s novels James and the Giant Peach (1961) and The BFG (1982) were dedicated to Olivia.

Theo Matthew Dahl, 59

Dahl’s only son Theo lives in Naples, Florida, with his wife Madeleine and their daughter Alexa, although he makes a habit of returning to the UK for Roald Dahl day. He worked for a time bagging groceries at a local supermarket.  

Roald remarried to Felicity ‘Liccy’ Dahl in 1983. Above, Felicity in March at an event attended by the Duchess of Cornwall

Ophelia Dahl, 56 

Ophelia Dahl is a social justice and health care advocate who, as of 2017, was living in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her long-term partner Lisa Frantzis and their son Luke. Ophelia is a co-founder of Partners In Health is a Boston-based nonprofit health care organization and chairman of Dahl & Dahl LLP, which manages the literary estate of her late father. 

Lucy Dahl, 54

Screenwriter Lucy wrote the screenplay for Wild Child and served as a consultant on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She was married to Michael Faircloth from 1987-1991 and John LaViolette in 2002. It is not known when the couple split. She has two children with Faircloth, who are Ned’s cousins: 

  • Fashion designer Phoebe Dahl, 31, founder of label Faircloth Supply. She had a relationship with Australian actress Ruby Rose that ended in 2015   
  • Chloe Dahl, who in 2015 announced her engagement to Hawaiian restaurateur Nikki Booth. Chloe was raised in California 

Groom Ned’s cousins are Chloe (centre) and Phoebe Dahl (right), daughters of Roald Dahl’s youngest daughter Lucy. The pair share photos of their lives on Instagram

Tessa Dahl (GROOM’S MOTHER) 

Dahl and Neal’s eldest surviving child is Ned’s mother, Chantal Sophia ‘Tessa’ Dahl, 63. Tessa is an author and former actress who worked as many years as a contributing editor to Tatler magazine. She has four children with three men.  

Author and former model Sophie Dahl, 42, is Tessa’s only child from her relationship to Julian Holloway. She is married to jazz musician and Radio 2 presenter Jamie Cullum. Pictured, the couple in 2019

Sophie Dahl (GROOM’S HALF-SISTER) 

Author and former model Sophie Dahl, 42, is Tessa’s only child from her relationship to Julian Holloway. Sophie burst onto the fashion scene as a pioneering plus-size model before discovering writing. She has published both novels and cookery books. She is married to jazz musician and Radio 2 presenter Jamie Cullum. The couple have daughters, Lyra, 9, and Margot, 7. 

Clover and Luke Kelly (GROOM’S HALF-SISTER AND HALF-BROTHER) 

Tessa had two children with her first husband, James Kelly, a businessman. The couple had a daughter, Clover, and a son, Luke. Luke has followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and penned children’s books. He also helps manage his grandfather’s estate. Clover remains largely out of the spotlight

Ned Donovan (THE GROOM) 

Ned is the only child of Tessa’s second marriage businessman Patrick Donovan, son of Australian Ambassador Francis Patrick Donovan. In 2019, the Jordanian royal court announced Ned’s engagement to Princess Raiyah bint Hussein. Ned works as a journalist. 

King Hussein of Jordan (BRIDE’S LATE FATHER) 

Princess Raiyah of Jordan, youngest daughter of the late King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan, his fourth wife. He was married to

Princess Dina Abdul-Hamid of Jordan: An Egyptian-born third cousin of King Hussein’s father, King Talal. The couple tied the knot in an arranged marriage in 1955 and divorced in 1957. The couple had one daughter    

Princess Muna Al-Hussein: Born Antoinette Gardiner, the princess was an award-winning field hockey player and daughter of a British army officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Percy Gardiner. The couple were married in 1961 and divorced in 1971. The couple had four children, including King Abdullah. 

Their other children are Prince Faisal bin Hussein, Princess Aisha bint Hussein and Princess Zein bint Hussein. 

Queen Alia Al-Hussein: Hussein was married to Queen Alia Al-Hussein from 1972 until her death in a helicopter crash in Jordan in 1977. The couple had three children, including one adopted son. 

Queen Noor of Jordan (BRIDE’S MOTHER)

Queen Noor was married from King Hussein from 1978 until his death in 1999. Together the couple had four children: two daughters and a son. Princess Raiyah is the youngest of the four children. All of her siblings have children.  

Queen Noor, 68, is now the Queen Dowager of Jordan. An accomplished and highly educated businesswoman and advocate, Queen Noor now splits her times between homes in Jordan, Washington D.C. and the UK. 

She is thought to have two British properties in London and her country residence, Buckhurst Park, near Winkfield in Berkshire.

King Abdullah II of Jodran (BRIDE’S HALF-BROTHER)  

The bride’s half-brother is the reigning King Abdullah II of Jordan, 58, who ascended the throne in 1999. He is married to Queen Rania of Jordan. Together they have four children: Crown Prince Hussein, Princess Iman, Princess Salma and Prince Hashem.   

The bride’s half-brother is King Abdullah II of Jordan, 58, who ascended the throne in 1999. He is married to Queen Rania of Jordan. Pictured, with King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway (left) and their eldest son Crown Prince Hussein (right) in March

 

Harry’s pal Sarah Ann throws a corking party! 

Burberry model Sarah Ann Macklin, whom Prince Harry courted while he was trying to woo his future wife, took a leaf out of Meghan Markle’s book this week when she celebrated her 31st birthday

Burberry model Sarah Ann Macklin, whom Prince Harry courted while he was trying to woo his future wife, took a leaf out of Meghan Markle’s book this week when she celebrated her 31st birthday.

The nutritionist hosted a small party in her garden in London and dazzled in a £557 maxi dress from the Duchess of Sussex’s favourite brand, J. Crew.

Single since splitting from Viscount Erleigh, heir to the Marquess of Reading, Sarah Ann was not short of love.

‘The appreciation of sitting around a dinner table with your nearest and dearest after not being able to for so long was the best birthday present I could ever have wished for,’ she says.

Countess’s family put on a brave face…

Heartbroken after losing the fight to keep her home, Countess Alexandra Tolstoy has shared the poignant moment she and her children stood outside it for the last time.

The 45-year-old socialite and scion of the author, Leo Tolstoy, has been evicted from the £9 million Chelsea house after her ex-partner, billionaire Sergei Pugachev, lost ownership in the Russian courts.

Posing with their children, Alexei, 11, Ivan, nine and Maria, eight, she writes: ‘Very far from smiling now. Each one of my children started their life in this house and as it’s not our choice to leave, it’s painful and oh so sad.’

Heartbroken after losing the fight to keep her home, Countess Alexandra Tolstoy has shared the poignant moment she and her children stood outside it for the last time

Generous Sherlock solves puzzle of helping heroes 

Here’s a two-pipe problem: how can you help key workers struggling to find suitable protective equipment during the pandemic?

In the case of Dafydd Brown, a web application developer, you do so by turning a former pigsty on his family’s farm in Wales into a mini factory making coronavirus face shields, with the generous help of Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch.

After setting an initial goal of just £200 to cover costs, the appeal quickly surpassed £1,500 before suddenly leaping to more than £7,000. To Dafydd’s shock, he discovered a £5,000 donation had been made by Oscar-nominated film star Cumberbatch and wife, Sophie Hunter.

‘He’s a friend of a friend,’ explains Dafydd. ‘What I was doing came up in conversation with a friend of mine, who then mentioned it to Benedict, who has supported a few Covid-19 initiatives. It was all quite random, really.’

District nurses and care home staff have all benefited from Benedict’s largesse, as have firefighters and ambulance crews.

TV adventurer Ben Fogle is exploring new ways to top up his coffers, charging £41.50 for personalised greetings featuring a short video of himself. 

Inbetweeners star James Buckley is said to have earned £100,000 in three months on the celebrity app Cameo. 

Fogle charmingly bills himself as: ‘It’s me. The bloke off the telly who occasionally rows across oceans and climbs Mount Everest.’ 

Some mothers do ’ave ’em. Britpop star Jarvis Cocker’s mother Christine is a staunch Brexit-supporter who became a Tory councillor. 

‘I’ve accepted from an early age that I’m very different from my mother,’ muses Cocker. ‘Although I disagree with my mother, there was never really any animosity.

‘I still love her. She embarrasses me a lot, but I’m not going to ban her from talking to me.’ 

But which of the family members are speaking up for the Common People?

 I found Tom Impossible, says Thandie 

Thandie Newton appeared in Mission: Impossible 2 but don’t expect star Tom Cruise to invite her back in a hurry

Thandie Newton appeared in Mission: Impossible 2 but don’t expect star Tom Cruise to invite her back in a hurry.

The Line Of Duty actress has portrayed the Hollywood superstar as a terrifying control freak.

Questioned as to why she didn’t appear in another sequel, Thandie says: ‘I was never asked. I was so scared of Tom. He was a very dominant individual.

‘He tries super-hard to be a nice person. But the pressure.

‘He takes on a lot. And I think he has this sense that only he can do everything as best as it can be done.’

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