HE is as well known for his ex factor as he is The X Factor.
But, at the age of 62, Simon Cowell has popped the question to partner Lauren Silverman — finally closing the door on his famous harem of former flames.
The mogul, who once declared marriage “boring”, quietly proposed to long-term love Lauren — mum to his son Eric, seven — on Christmas Eve, meaning showbiz’s last confirmed (heterosexual) bachelor is officially off the market.
A friend said last night: “No one is more shocked about the change in Simon these past few years than Simon. He’s always been vehemently and vociferously opposed to marriage, believing it an outdated and shackling institution.
“But during lockdown with Lauren something shifted. He is no longer as work-obsessed as he once was and realises now family and health are everything.
“Although she has never hogged the limelight, or wanted fame, Lauren knows what she wants — and that’s a commitment to family life.
“Not surprisingly, she didn’t appreciate Simon hanging out and holidaying with his harem of exes, particularly Sinitta who was forever lurking in the shadows.
“Simon was told in no uncertain terms that it was him or his exes — Sinitta, Terri Seymour and Jackie St Clair — and, wisely, chose to prioritise his present and future, not his past.”
Noticeably, the couple’s recent holiday in Barbados did not include any of Simon’s former flames.
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In previous years, the procession of glamorous, size 8 women have tagged along during Simon’s no-expense-spared Caribbean jaunts.
In 2014, poor, rictus-grinned Lauren, 44, was papped walking along Barbados’s west coast politely holding hands with Sinitta, 58.
Simon has also previously invited both TV presenter Terri, 47, and one-time model Jackie, 61, on board his rented yacht.
And in 2010 he invited his on/off girlfriend Mezhgan Hussainy, 48, with whom he was trying to break up, to join the gang.
In 2014 Simon even declared that he would always love his exes, saying: “The love I have for my ex-girlfriends will always be there, so I think that’s true love. People confuse ego, lust, insecurity with true love.
“But for me, whether it’s Jackie, Mezhgan, Sinitta or Terri, they will be in my life forever. I genuinely love them.”
Today, he most definitely loves them a little bit less. Lauren 1, Harem 0.
Sinitta, in particular, has always been something of a thorn in the side of Simon’s partners.
He dated the So Macho singer on and off for almost 20 years. She claims they split up over his reluctance to marry or have kids.
And two years ago she insisted Simon would “never propose” to Lauren which, presumably, went down like the proverbial balloon chez Silverman.
But stunning Lauren has had the last laugh after becoming the first woman to successfully consign Sinitta to the dating history books.
At the same time, the Manhattan socialite has ingratiated herself with Simon’s inner circle.
She has become good pals with his Britain’s Got Talent co-judge Amanda Holden as well as Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda, Piers Morgan and Alesha Dixon.
In fact, it was Lauren’s idea to sign up former Take That singer Robbie and his American actress wife for The X Factor in 2018.
As well as helping him with business decisions, Lauren has also been by Simon’s side privately, through thick and thin.
When he broke his back in an electric bike crash in August 2020, she helped nurse him back to strength.
A friend said: “Simon’s friends quickly fell in love with Lauren, and she fitted immediately into his social circle.
“Simon, famously, had immense staying power when it came to partying — often not going to bed until 4 or 5am — but, under Lauren’s gentle, watchful eye, he’s knocked all that on the head.
“They now enjoy quiet dinners with friends, and Netflix and games with Eric of an evening. Lauren has gradually helped Simon overhaul his lifestyle — and he’s never been happier.
“She was his rock when he was broken, mentally and physically, and unsure if he would ever walk again. She is just very good for him.”
Lauren is 'Simon's rock'
In London, where the couple have two multi-million-pound homes, the pair regularly socialise with Amanda Holden and her husband Chris Hughes.
The four recently shared a long weekend at private members’ club Soho Farmhouse, enjoying bike rides, outdoor swims and evening cocktails within the venue’s Cotswolds grounds.
Yesterday, Amanda, 50, revealed Simon had happily texted pals to tell them news of their engagement was coming out in The Sun.
Speaking on her Heart radio show, she admitted that until then she had no idea a proposal was incoming.
She said: “Last night we all got the text saying, ‘It’s happening” and we couldn’t believe it.
“And I knew it would be in the paper today if we got the text last night. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness!’.
“I’m literally messaging them as we speak going, ‘Do I need to book flights to Barbados because I want to get in before the prices go up?’.
“Also, I’ve got to book time off work, I’ve got to get a hat. I’m thinking who’s going to look after the kids? Are the kids invited? Now, come on.” Three years ago, Simon, who is worth around £400million, declared he no longer owned a mobile phone because he found them a “distraction”.
However, he secretly bought what he calls a “bat phone” — giving only select members of his inner circle his new number — and it was those he texted.
‘Mr Nasty is long gone’
After dating a string of glamorous women, including Dannii Minogue, 50, and Carmen Electra, 49, Simon always insisted marriage was something he had no interest in.
In an interview shortly before he became official with Lauren in 2013, he said: “When you get into a rut it’s boring.
“When no matter how big your house is, you are going to end up on the same sofa, in the same bed or in the same room as a person. I like being on my own.”
He has also previously said: “I don’t believe in marriage, certainly not in this business. The truth is that you get married and in a year or two they clean you out! It’s just not going to work.”
Happily, Lauren, who also has son Adam, 15, from her first marriage, has money of her own.
Tellingly, a pre-nup has NOT been discussed, friends claimed last night. It would be surprising, though, if their lawyers didn’t moot the idea closer to the nuptials.
While a wedding date has not been set, pals believe they may host a “small, intimate” exchange of vows next Christmas in Barbados.
His beloved dogs, Squiddly, Diddly and Freddie, will surely feature prominently in the ceremony, perhaps as ring-bearers.
Happy as they are now, Simon and Lauren had a tricky start to public life.
She was married to one of his best mates, property magnate Andrew, when they fell in love, and they were forced to “come out” after she fell pregnant with their son, Eric, in 2013. Malicious rumours circulated that she had “tricked” Simon into having a baby.
Of the pregnancy, he once admitted: “This was not something I planned. But I remember going to the first scan with Lauren. I called him Tad because he looked like a tadpole. Something just kicked in.
“I felt unbelievably protective of both of them. I just absolutely wanted him. I just hadn’t known that before.”
Since then, Simon has fallen head over heels with adorable Eric.
Similarly, he has taken on the role of protective step-dad to Adam.
And it was telling that he got down on one knee with both boys watching.
A source added: “Lauren has been an incredibly stabilising influence on him, and has quietly steered the ship that is their relationship.
“TV’s Mr Nasty is long gone. Simon’s a devoted family man now, and life couldn’t be more different.
“A wedding is the icing on the three-tiered cake.”
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