SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Queen's treat for Princess Anne's birthday

Just the two of us: Queen’s secret lunch treat for Princess Anne’s 70th birthday

The Queen has spent the past three months socially isolating at Windsor Castle amid the coronovirus pandemic but it has not been all doom and gloom.

Just two weeks after she attended the nuptials of her granddaughter Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi at Royal Lodge, yesterday she was present at another moving family engagement.

For I can reveal Her Majesty hosted a secret, socially distanced lunch with her daughter, Princess Anne, ahead of Anne’s 70th birthday next week. The pair met at Frogmore House, an empty private royal residence on her Berkshire estate. 

No other members of the Royal Family were present, and only minimal staff who are part of the Queen’s castle ‘bubble’.

The Queen has spent the past three months socially isolating at Windsor Castle amid the coronovirus pandemic but it has not been all doom and gloom (File image)

Her Majesty hosted a secret, socially distanced lunch with her daughter, Princess Anne (File image)

Buckingham Palace would not confirm why mother and daughter met but it is believed to have been an early birthday lunch for the Princess Royal. 

Frogmore House was the venue for Harry and Meghan’s wedding reception in 2018, as well as that of one of the Queen’s other grandchildren, Peter Phillips.

The original Frogmore House was built in 1680 by Charles II’s architect and derives its name from the preponderance of frogs which have always lived in the low-lying, marshy area. 

Frogmore Cottage, where Harry and Meghan once lived, is in the grounds.

In 1923 the Duke and Duchess of York, the Queen’s parents, spent part of their honeymoon there.

Buckingham Palace would not confirm why mother and daughter met but it is believed to have been an early birthday lunch for the Princess Royal. Above, the Queen and Princess Anne at the Royal Ascot in 2017 

Royal sources said it was ‘rare but not unheard of’ to be used by members of the Royal Family today, but tended to be for ‘special occasions’. 

It was more than likely chosen for privacy, as the castle is open again to visitors, as well as social-distancing reasons.

I understand the Queen, 94, and her 99-year-old husband, Prince Philip, will Windsor today and fly to Scotland. They will decamp to Balmoral, their private Highland home, until early October for their annual summer break.

They are the family to whom generations of the Royal Family — as well as princelings from overseas — have turned whenever augmenting their jewellery collections.

But now, I can disclose, the unthinkable has happened — the Aspreys have vanished from London’s West End.

William Asprey, the seventh generation of the family to rule the roost, has taken the distressing decision to place his company in administration — even though it boasts a Royal Warrant from the Queen and, just four years ago, recorded an annual profit of £26 million.

That stupendous result appeared to vindicate Asprey’s boldness in striking out on his own in 1999, when he established William & Son four years after his father, John Asprey, sold the eponymous family firm, founded in 1781, to Prince Jefri of Brunei for £243.5 million.

Within a decade, Asprey, 54, and his team of craftsmen created what the company described as ‘the finest jewellery and timepieces’, as well as a treasury of silver and glassware, while its gunsmiths made coveted trophy shotguns.

Since 2017, William & Son’s fortunes have turned south and racked up total losses of £21 million.The company’s collapse dismays Naim Attallah, a long-standing friend and former chief executive of Asprey. ‘It makes you want to cry,’ Attallah tells me. ‘The people who work for William were working for me. The economy is shrinking, so people with high overheads are taking decisions they never thought they would have to take. It’s very depressing.’

The administrators, RSM Advisory, decline to comment, whileAsprey could not be reached.

Perhaps he’s already plotting a comeback. Nothing better reflected his ambition than calling the firm William & Son — even though son Tom had just been born — he envisaged it being passed down the generations for ‘another 200 years I hope’.

Rose, 9, leads Emilia up the garden path 

Silent Witness star Emilia Fox was treated to a surprise birthday celebration when she turned 46 at the weekend.

The scion of the acting dynasty — her father is Edward Fox — reveals she arrived at her West London home to be guided outside by her daughter, Rose, nine, to find an unexpected gift. Emilia posted a picture online of herself blowing out the candles on her cake. ‘My little girl covered my eyes and walked me into the garden,’ she says.

‘I was staggered to see the most beautiful Harmondsworth table and Chatto chairs which I have been dreaming of. The garden has always been my favourite place.’

Silent Witness star Emilia Fox was treated to a surprise birthday celebration

Prince Charles is going head-to-head with the Queen in the royal alcohol stakes.

After Buckingham Palace gin went on sale last month, made from botanicals picked from the royal gardens, Charles has just launched his own Highgrove Organic Garden Botanical Gin.

Charles’s gin is priced at £39.95, undercutting the Buckingham Palace brand by five pence — the perfect ‘heir of the dog’. He is also selling Highgrove engraved bowl-shaped crystal gin glasses for £19.95 and engraved barrel-shaped tumblers for £11.95.

The Queen Mother would have raised a toast to her daughter and grandson — her favourite drink was said to be gin and Dubonnet with a slice of lemon under the ice.

This is how to do it, Mum

Supermodel Kate Moss appears more than happy for her 17-year-old daughter to take the lead.

Leaving a restaurant in Ibiza, Kate, 46, smiled as Lila strode ahead in denim shorts and a white crop top.

The duo dined with pop star Rita Ora on the Spanish island, where Kate and Lila — whose father is magazine editor Jefferson Hack — are on holiday with Kate’s boyfriend, Nikolai von Bismarck.

Leaving a restaurant in Ibiza, Kate, 46, smiled as Lila strode ahead in denim shorts and a white crop top

The Vogue cover star, who showed off her tan in black shorts, has been helping Lila follow in her footsteps by signing her up to her eponymous talent agency.

At the age of just 16, Lila starred in her fashion campaign debut for Marc Jacobs, a close family friend.

Dame Jenni Murray, who has written a book about her lifelong struggle with weight, says there is a price to pay for losing too much. ‘I don’t mean to upset Nigel Lawson in any way — but when he lost more than half his body weight, his face just crumbled. I thought: ‘Do I really want to lose this nice skin that’s not wrinkled?’ So I didn’t try to lose any more weight. If I fancy a chocolate eclair, I’ll have one.’ 

Move over Matthew Crawley. Downton Abbey actor Dan Stevens, who lives in America, reveals he still gets plenty of attention Stateside for playing a cross-dresser in the 2014 HBO show High Maintenance. 

‘One of the things I get stopped for, in terms of people wanting to say how much it meant to them, is High Maintenance,’ Stevens says of the show in which he plays a house husband who wears his wife’s clothes. 

‘I think that character really resonated with a lot of people, whether they’re a cross-dresser or not. It’s actually more about just being true to who you are in the world.’ 

Move over Matthew Crawley. Downton Abbey actor Dan Stevens, who lives in America, reveals he still gets plenty of attention Stateside for playing a cross-dresser in the 2014 HBO show High Maintenance. 

‘One of the things I get stopped for, in terms of people wanting to say how much it meant to them, is High Maintenance,’ Stevens says of the show in which he plays a house husband who wears his wife’s clothes. 

‘I think that character really resonated with a lot of people, whether they’re a cross-dresser or not. It’s actually more about just being true to who you are in the world.’ 

All aboard the love boat

Money can’t buy you love but Phones 4u founder John Caudwell just so happens to have both in spades. The billionaire philanthropist was all smiles at the weekend as he celebrated his six-year anniversary with Olympic cyclist, Modesta Vzesniauskaite, who at 36 is 31 years his junior.

Pictured aboard his £65 million superyacht, Titania, Modesta wrote: ‘One of the best gifts in life is to love and be loved unconditionally.’

John Caudwell was all smiles at the weekend as he celebrated his six-year anniversary with Olympic cyclist, Modesta Vzesniauskait

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