David Linley keeps his head above water… with £30,000 surfboards!

SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: The Queen’s nephew David Linley keeps his head above water… with £30,000 surfboards!

His marriage has come to an end, but there is surely a spring in David Linley’s step.

For I can disclose that the Queen’s nephew — who became the 2nd Earl of Snowdon on his father’s death three years ago — has overseen a dazzling resurgence at his eponymous company, Linley.

The firm, which makes bespoke furniture and luxury goods, as well as undertaking interior design projects around the world, has just notched up a £720,000 profit and record sales of £14 million — £3 million up on the year before, when the company suffered a loss of nearly £2 million.

The stunning turnaround vindicates the strategy of extending its services to yacht interiors and undertaking commissions for commercial clients. 

It will be especially heartening for Lord Snowdon who, early in his career, became inured to being sneeringly referred to as ‘a carpenter’, even though his tutor at John Makepeace’s woodwork college, Greg Powlesland, adjudged him the most creative and inventive student he had ever taught.

The Queen’s nephew — who became the 2nd Earl of Snowdon on his father’s death three years ago, has overseen a resurgence in his company, Linley. Above, David Linley attends the Linley Christmas Party on November 15, 2011 in London, England

Even after establishing an international reputation, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Linley, particularly during the financial crisis. Russian oligarch, Sergei Pugachev, so-called ‘Cashier to the Kremlin’ and, at the time, lover of socialite and author Alexandra Tolstoy, loaned the company £400,000, only to sever his links abruptly a while later.

 Since the coronavirus outbreak, the company, whose main shareholder is now Malaysian tycoon Dato’ Sri Nazir Razak, has furloughed its marketing department, but says that online sales have ‘burgeoned and alternative sales arrangements have been instituted to offset the adverse high street environment’.

And it remains determined to look after its core market — the indecently rich or ‘Ultra HighNet Worth individuals’, as it calls them. The company’s products include everything from a £250 corkscrew to a £30,000 surfboard crafted from ‘sustainably sourced balsa wood’, with ‘natural and dyed veneers’ of American walnut, ripple sycamore and figured, fumed eucalyptus.

Just the thing on which Snowdon, who in February jointly announced with his wife Serena that they had ‘amicably agreed’ that their marriage had ended, can contend with any choppy financial waters ahead. 

David Linley’s shop, The David Linley Company, which is on Pimlico Road in London (pictured above) has just notched up a £720,000 profit and record sales of £14 million — £3 million up on the year before, when the company suffered a loss of nearly £2 million

Anne’s still the queen of lean

It’s 20 years since Anne Robinson transfixed the nation by reducing grown men and women to gibbering wrecks in the first series of The Weakest Link.

But, though now aged 75, the Queen of Mean looked entirely capable of dishing it out to anyone who caused her a moment of displeasure as she strode out near her Kensington home in the sunshine yesterday in trainers and vivid blue tracksuit.

Only the foolhardy would ask the indomitable Robinson, pictured below in her heyday, what she was carrying in the beltbag tucked under her left arm.

Boxing gloves, perhaps?

The Queen of Mean, Anne Robinson, is now 75, but looks as lean as ever 20 years on from the first episode of The Weakest Link (right)

Kate Silverton will be celebrating turning 50 by throwing her own mini-pop festival.

The eco-friendly bash next month — dubbed ‘Kate Fest’ — will feature the Zimbawean band Bhundu Boys and even have compost loos.

‘Due to Covid it was clear I would not be able to do anything inside,’ says the BBC TV news presenter. ‘But a wonderful organic farmer friend I know suggested I hold a mini-festival on his field deep in the Somerset countryside.’

With 2020 marking the 30th anniversary of the broadcaster’s visit to Zimbabwe on an expedition run by Operation Raleigh, she decided upon an African-themed event.

‘Outrageous’ lost secrets of Dame Helen Mirren…

Dame Helen Mirren turns 75 on Sunday, but the scandalous secrets of the Oscar-winning star seem to have been lost for all time.

Writer James Brown joined the actress in Beverly Hills to get the lowdown on her life in Tinseltown.

‘I spent a good few days in Hollywood with Helen,’ says Brown. ‘The interview was outrageous but the assistant who was transcribing it, her mother got seriously ill and she just left and the tape went with her, so I could never write that piece up.

‘She told me some stories that if I’d published them, they would have been on the front page of the papers, I think. I’ve never written about them because I guess they’ve gone with the wind.’ 

Breaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston, who played Walter White in the award-winning crime drama, was widely praised for his consummate acting skills. However, he has another unique talent. ‘I’m one of the rare actors who actually eats during dinner sequences,’ he says. ‘Most actors will push food around, and they’ll pretend, and they’ll take the smallest bite of something. I dive in.’  

TV’S Clare Balding was elated this month to take receipt of a large gold chain and medallion.

The ‘chains of office’ signified the handover of the Rugby Football League’s presidency to her from former Arsenal and England footballer Tony Adams.

‘In common with Tony, I was not an obvious candidate for the role. When RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer rang to talk about it, he said: “Now I know your initial reaction is to say no — and that’s exactly why I think you ought to say yes.”

‘It’s the sort of warped logic I like, so I agreed.’ 

Final answer? Pippa says yes to Tarrant’s son Toby

Hats off to Toby Tarrant, DJ son of Chris, who announced his engagement this week to radio producer Pippa Taylor.

Let’s hope there is not too much of a frisson at the wedding when his estranged parents will come face to face for the first time in years. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? host Chris divorced wife Ingrid in 2007 after she found out about his seven-year affair. She then publicly shamed him, saying he needed Viagra in bed.

Reception should be lively.

Toby Tarrant (right) DJ son of Chris, who announced his engagement this week to radio producer Pippa Taylor (left)

Tara Williams, daughter of Dame Judi Dench and the late actor Michael Williams, who is better known as ‘Finty’, says she enjoys the confusion her two forenames provoke.

‘If people phone up and say “Is Tara Williams there?”, I always go, “No, she’s not, can I ask what this is in reference to?” And if they tell me I’m overdrawn or something like that, I can say “I’ll pass it on to her”.

‘My parents were convinced they were going to have a boy and call him Fin. When I was born, my Dad said to my mum “Jude, it’s not Fin, it’s Finty”. But then I think it was [actor] Norman Rodway who said, “You must give her a proper name as well” and he came up with Tara.’

Andy’s ex scores with footballer

After the breakdown of her marriage, Prince Andrew’s friend Caroline Stanbury seems to have found love again with former Real Madrid soccer star Sergio Carrallo.

Stanbury, whom Prince Andrew dated after his divorce from Fergie, posted this picture of them holding hands in a helicopter and captioned it ‘Chapter 2’.

The 43-year-old star of reality TV series Ladies Of London lives in Dubai with her three children by her soon-to-be ex-husband, financier Cem Habib.

Caroline Stanbury (left) seems to have found love again with former Real Madrid soccer star Sergio Carrallo (right)

M&S LINGERIE model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley admits she has to isolate from her fiance, Hollywood star Jason Statham, to cope with busy family life. ‘

At the end of the day, I might go and lock myself in my bathroom for an hour or two and have a bath, just be on my own,’ says the 33-year-old, who lives in California with Statham, 52, and their three-year-old son, Jack. 

‘Jason’s like, “What are you doing?” I’m like, “Just pottering around.” ’ Happily, they aren’t separated for long. ‘Last thing I do before bed is say good night to my man, have a kiss, have a cuddle,’ she adds.

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