Prince Andrew’s 60th birthday party at Windsor attracted star guests including Bernie Ecclestone and China’s UK ambassador… but his siblings Charles, Edward and Anne ‘were nowhere to be seen’
Look who made the cut! Billionaire Bernie Ecclestone, Old Etonian actor Sir John Standing, racing heir Guy Sangster and his wife Fiona and Liu Xiaoming, China’s UK ambassador.
All, I can disclose, were among an eclectic group of 50 or so friends who helped the Duke of York celebrate his 60th birthday last week, joining him for a private dinner at Royal Lodge, the Windsor residence he shares with his ex-wife, Fergie.
As I revealed on the day of the party, an additional number of ‘follow-up’ invitations had been sent out by Jane Clarke, Fergie’s assistant, to ensure that the evening went with a bang, after various of those who had previously been invited declared themselves ‘unavailable’.
A group of around 50 or so friends helped the Duke of York celebrate his 60th birthday last week, joining him for a private dinner at Royal Lodge, writes Sebastian Shakespeare
The extra effort worked a treat. ‘Neither of Andrew’s brothers was there, nor was [Princess] Anne, but it was a wonderful party,’ I’m told. ‘A really good range of people.’
The lucky guests are reluctant to chat too freely about such an intimate occasion. However, I gather that the evening concluded with ‘a few games after dinner’ of the high-spirited sort that the Royal Family has favoured for generations.
Prince Andrew bonded with Ecclestone through Formula 1, laying the foundation stone for the Bahrain track in 2002 and joining Bernie for the first Grand Prix there in 2004.
He enjoys close relations with Xiaoming and earlier this month spent Chinese New Year with him.
I gather that the evening concluded with ‘a few games after dinner’ of the high-spirited sort that the Royal Family has favoured for generations (pictured left is Bernie Ecclestone and his wife Fabiana Flosi in 2013 and right racing heir Guy Sangster and his wife Fiona in 2014)
‘My wife and I invited Duke of York and his family to our residence and celebrated Chinese New Year,’ Xiaoming wrote on his Twitter account, alongside a photo of Andrew, Fergie, Princess Beatrice and her fiance Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi.
Having stepped down as overseas trade envoy in 2011, Andrew has spent years seeking to improve relations with the Communist regime.
In 2018, he met Huawei executives in China while promoting his [email protected] Palace venture, and also visited the company HQ.
He subsequently entertained the company’s chief technical officer at Buckingham Palace.