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Duchess of York’s sons-in-law quit Fergie’s fledgling firm

She has welcomed both her sons-in-law in gushing style, declaring ‘never has a mother been more proud’ than when Edo Mapelli Mozzi married Princess Beatrice last month. 

And she observed of Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank that they ‘float with laughter and love’.

But these effusions have not, alas, dissuaded both men from cutting themselves adrift from the Duchess of York — in a commercial sense, that is.

In a flurry of activity remarkable even by the sometimes haphazard pattern of Fergie’s business career, I can reveal she and Mapelli Mozzi and Brooksbank became the three directors of a company, Rumpel Water Ltd, which was incorporated on June 25.

Yet only three weeks later, on July 13 — just four days before Mapelli Mozzi married Beatrice in a private ceremony at Windsor — both he and Brooksbank resigned, leaving Fergie as the company’s sole director.

A spokesman for Fergie attempts to unravel this brief but extraordinary chapter in British corporate history.

‘Both sons-in-law were going to get involved but then realised they didn’t have enough time to commit to it,’ he tells me, ‘so they resigned as directors.’

Rumpel, he adds, is a ‘water-cleansing company’ whose operations may ultimately be mainly overseas — although not at the moment. ‘It’s now dormant but will start up again at some point in the future,’ explains the spokesman.

It is difficult to envisage either of Fergie’s sons-in-law returning to the Rumpel board. Mapelli Mozzi heads his own highly successful property and design company, Banda.

His former fiancée, Dara Huang, with whom he has a three-year-old son, recently relocated her office to the same Kensington building in West London in which Banda is based.

Brooksbank, formerly a manager at Mahiki, the Mayfair nightclub favoured by Princes William and Harry during their carefree youth, is now a brand ambassador for Casamigos, a tequila company co-founded by George Clooney.

The Duchess’s business career has been a rollercoaster ride. In the mid-1990s, she cleared debts of £4 million, courtesy of an ITV adaptation of her children’s stories about Budgie the Little Helicopter.

Earlier this year it emerged that Gate Ventures, the theatre investment company of which she was until recently a director, would have debts of £10.3 million — even after recovering all money owed to it.

But she bounced back by forging a commercial partnership with Montegrappa, an Italian manufacturer of luxury goods.

Let’s hope that Rumpel gives Fergie something to write home about.

Now he is no longer in Parliament, former Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow clearly has more time on his hands.

This week he was photographed enjoying an epic six-hour lunch at George in Mayfair (which founder Mark Birley named after his beloved dog) with his friend Frank Warren (above left), the colourful boxing promoter. 

‘They seemed to be having a tremendous time laughing a lot and engaging in some intense discussion and banter,’ I’m told.

The pair have enjoyed an unlikely bromance lasting several years. When he was an MP, Bercow regularly accepted complimentary tickets to sporting events from fellow Arsenal fan Frank. 

Presumably, on this occasion, it was Bercow’s turn to pick up the tab.

Westminster Abbey’s bells are rung on the birthdays of senior members of the Royal Family. 

But Princess Anne will not be granted this honour when she turns 70 next week.

‘Following guidelines from the Church of England and the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, ringing at the Abbey has been suspended during the coronavirus outbreak,’ a spokesman tells me.

The bells did ring for the birthday of Prince Andrew in February despite him having stepped down from royal duties. 

Never mind Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, what about letting the bells ring out for Anne, the most hard-working royal?

Donna Air’s modelling career began as a child of ten before she went on to star in children’s TV series Byker Grove.

Now, her daughter Freya is following in Mum’s footsteps as I can reveal she has just landed her modelling debut at 16 after being signed up by Storm, the agency that discovered Kate Moss.

Freya, whose father is Donna’s ex, Damian Aspinall, stars in the new campaign for London jewellery brand Tada & Toy. 

It was co-founded by Tansy Aspinall, Damian’s daughter from his first marriage to Louise Sebag-Montefiore. Talk about keeping it in the family.

She was ousted as vice-president of the Booker Prize after alleged transphobic remarks, but Baroness Nicholson is moving onwards and upwards. 

She has been elected vice-president of an all-parliamentary committee for music education.

The doughty peer, 78, who was born profoundly deaf and at the age of 11 suffered partial loss of her eyesight, studied piano, cello and organ at the Royal Academy of Music and now wants all deaf children to learn to sing.

One of her first duties was to open a virtual wine bar for the London-based Brandenburg Choral Festival. 

‘It was the first time I’ve opened a bar. Worse than that, I don’t drink alcohol,’ she says.

Canadian film director Mary Harron, who made American Psycho, dated Tony Blair when they were students at Oxford University. 

But one opportunity she missed was to see Blair’s Oxford rock band, Ugly Rumours, play live. 

‘Tony, several times, asked me to come to see his band,’ she says. 

‘I was busy, I just never went. I could have been one of the very few people who saw them, so great regret there.’

Clare Balding and wife Alice Arnold are still in mourning for their beloved pooch, who had to be put down. 

‘Archie has been a part of our lives for more than 15 years — and although it was the right and kindest decision, it didn’t stop both of us feeling bereft,’ says Clare. 

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