The Duchess of Cornwall’s godson Lord Irwin hit the headlines when he abandoned a lucrative career as a Wall Street investment banker to don a bright yellow uniform at his own firm of motorcycling plumbers.
Now, the Earl of Halifax’s son and heir James Irwin is undergoing another dramatic life change.
I can disclose that James has returned to his family’s stately home in Yorkshire, Garrowby Hall, after separating from his wife, Georgia.
Close: The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall with James and Georgia, who have split, at Ascot in 2012
‘The break-up has been a real shock to everyone, including Georgia,’ one of their friends tells me. ‘Sometimes it turns out you don’t know people as well as you think you do.’
The split will sadden Prince Charles and Camilla, who often invite the couple to join them at Royal Ascot.
Lord Irwin (James Irwin) abandoned a lucrative career as a Wall Street investment banker to become a plumber
James’s father, Lord Halifax, is so close to the Royal Family that the Queen and Prince Philip stayed at Garrowby when Royal Ascot was moved to York racecourse in 2005.
Eton and Oxford-educated James married barrister’s daughter Georgia in 2006 and they have two young children.
‘We have separated,’ Georgia confirms. ‘It’s amicable and we are staying friends.’
Charles used to meet Camilla clandestinely at the 13,500-acre Garrowby estate while the Prince was still married to Princess Diana.
Lord Halifax’s role in the affair first came to public attention when the notorious Camillagate tapes — the secretly recorded intimate conversations between the Prince and Camilla — referred to Yarraby (clearly a misheard Garrowby) as a possible meeting place.
James set up his London-based firm, The Handy Squad, after getting married and was soon counting the likes of pop star Lily Allen and television presenter Loyd Grossman as regulars.
He took a hands-on role in the business, saying: ‘The last job I did was cleaning out the macerator pump on someone’s loo for £60.’
Turning 70 can provoke mixed emotions, but at least Annabel Elliot is guaranteed a good party to celebrate her reaching that milestone today. The Duchess of Cornwall’s beloved sister is to be honoured with a bash at Clarence House on Monday, hosted by Prince Charles and Camilla.
‘Their Royal Highnesses were delighted to offer to throw the party,’ a courtier tells me. Annabel is an interior designer whose work is so admired by the heir to the throne that he put her in charge of renovating rental properties on his estates.
HM beats Eleanor of Aquitaine’s milestone
Yet another remarkable record was notched up by the Queen this week, with no fanfare.
On Thursday, Her Majesty — who acceded to the throne on February 6, 1952 — became the world’s longest-reigning female ruler ever, overtaking Eleanor of Aquitaine, who died in 1204.
Eleanor, who was also queen consort of France and England, was Duchess of Aquitaine for 66 years and 358 days.
The Queen became Britain’s longest ruling monarch in 2015 when she overtook Queen Victoria.
She could become the longest-reigning monarch of either sex in 2025, beating Louis XIV of France.
Legendary Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour
Pink Floyd legend David Gilmour, whose rock classics include The Dark Side Of The Moon, sees the value in sunshine.
The guitarist hopes to plaster an ‘array of solar panels’ on an outbuilding at his farm in West Sussex, where he lives in a splendid 18th-century house with second wife Polly Samson.
Lest anyone object, Gilmour’s agent emphasises there are ‘no nearby houses’, since ‘all immediately surrounding land’ is Gilmour’s and so ‘solar glare is not a consideration’.
Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Dave.
McMAFIA and Grantchester star James Norton has been touted as a successor to Daniel Craig as James Bond, but his ex-girlfriend, Jessie Buckley, is backing Bodyguard heart-throb Richard Madden.
‘Richard’s a fantastic and talented actor and would do a great job,’ she tells me at the Vanity Fair EE Rising Star pre-Baftas party.
‘I don’t think playing 007 will be too much of a challenge for him.’
Jessie, who fell for Norton while playing his sister in BBC1 drama War & Peace, is keen to appear opposite Madden in a Bond film.
‘I would love to — if they would have a slightly raw-looking, wild chic-looking kind of person.’
James Norton (left) has been touted as a successor to Daniel Craig as James Bond, but his ex-girlfriend, Jessie Buckley, is backing Bodyguard heart-throb Richard Madden (right)