He is the buccaneer former Guards officer who, as an award-winning freelance cameraman, filmed conflicts of Iraq Unpleasant Afghanistan and was shot twice – saved once when an incoming round was stopped by his cell phone and wad of cash.
Later he took a different kind of risk: renting Julian Assange take refuge on his 600-acre estate in Norfolk as the Wikileaks founder began his fight against extradition for alleged sex offences.
But now Vaughan Smith, founder of London’s Frontline Club, much loved by war reporters and foreign correspondents, is embroiled in a battle at home. “He’s in a bitter divorce,” I was told.
Smith, 59, confirms the split from his second wife, Pranvera, and describes the divorce as “sensitive and distressing for everyone involved, not least our children.”
Pranvera, 44, who met Vaughan when she acted as his interpreter during the war in her home country, Kosovo, in the late 1990s, will say only that it is “very complicated.”
‘Total chaos’: Vaughan Smith (left) and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (right)
Disturbing: Smith’s second wife Pranvera
I understand that there have already been two hearings and that a third was due to take place in February, but it was postponed. Pranvera remains in Norfolk with the couple’s children, while Vaughan, who has mature descendants through his first marriage to Sanela Djono, is in London, though he and Pranvera occasionally switch places, to allow him time with his younger brood .
Friends of the couple are doing their best not to take sides – to the extent, I’m told, that they’re wary of holding events at the Frontline Club, in Paddington, west London.
It was there that Assange stayed for several months before moving – at the invitation of Vaughan and Pranvera – to the ten-bedroom Smith family seat in Norfolk. Although Assange was required by a court order to wear an electronic tag and adhere to a curfew, he was not lacking in female companionship. “Julian is hounded by a certain type of woman—and hounded is the right word,” recalled Smith, who said that life at home can be “total chaos.”
Neither he nor Pranvera expected Assange to be with them for more than a few weeks. “I wouldn’t say having someone stay in your house for almost a year is a recipe for domestic peace,” Smith mused after Assange’s departure, though he insisted neither he nor Pranvera regretted giving him shelter. have offered.
Will we hear more about that special time? I ask because Pranvera, who founded On Front Line and organizes debates on world events, tells me she is writing a book…
The smart set talks about… Harry and Meghan landlord playing a Swiss role
Nicholas Johnston with wife Linda
Not content with counting Prince Harry and Meghan among the tenants on his Oxfordshire estate, long-time Etonian Nicholas Johnston took ‘on a whim’ a second estate, Bantham, in South Devon – for £11.5 million, just to antagonize the locals by revealing surprising plans for its development.
Now I can reveal that Johnston’s fantasy has been taken by the chic Swiss Alpine resort of Zermatt, famous for the iconic Matterhorn. He founded a real estate company there with the aim of ‘advising, marketing and developing real estate projects’.
But there’s more to Johnston’s enthusiasm than Zermatt’s commercial opportunity. He and his glamorous Roedean-educated wife Saskia, pictured, – for whom he left his first wife Linda six years ago – are now settled in one of the town’s newest chalets.
“It’s huge – five stories, lots of huge glass windows and balconies,” I’ve been told. “Must have a spectacular view of the Matterhorn.”
Bond girl’s ex Max marries jeweler Celia
Dumped: Bond girl Olga Kurylenko and Max Benitz. Right, jeweler Celia Weinstock
Bond girl Olga Kurylenko is said to have devastated Max Benitz, the Old Harrovian father of her son, when she dumped him for her Gun Shy co-star Ben Cura in 2018.
Fortunately, I hear that journalist Benitz, 38, has found love again and has quietly married jeweler Celia Weinstock.
“We chose a small wedding and it was a lovely day,” says 38-year-old Celia, who was once tipped as a potential bride for Prince Harry. “We are very happy together.”
Celia, a granddaughter of the late industrialist Lord Weinstock, exchanged vows with Benitz at The King’s Chapel of the Savoy in London.
Her sister Tish married stylist Tom Guinness, the son of Lord Moyne, last October in an extraordinary Halloween-themed wedding at Belvoir Castle, home of the Duke of Rutland, in Leicestershire.
“My mother is very happy that both of her daughters are now married,” says Celia, whose brand, Lyme Fine Jewellery, is named after her mother Laura’s ancestral pile, Lyme Park, in Cheshire.
Earl Spencer is mourning his cousin Bobby, who died in Florida last week at the age of 90. Eton-educated Bobby would have been sad to miss King Charles’s coronation, as he was a usher at Queen Elizabeth’s in 1953.
As a teenager, he had fond memories of his cousin Princess Diana.
He said, “She was very happy, full of fun, delightful to be with—a young girl who clearly needed to be kept in order from time to time as young girls do, but only in the most delightful way.”
Corbyn boys party with Fast Eddie…
Many Girls: Edward Davenport with Tommy and Ben Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn is not allowed to run for Labor again, but his sons are much more interested in a different kind of party.
Here are Ben and Tommy Corbyn at a party hosted by the self-proclaimed ‘Lord’, Edward Davenport, who was imprisoned for fraud.
It was held at 32 Portland Place, the Marylebone mansion from ‘Fast Eddie’, where scenes from the Oscar-winning The King’s Speech were filmed. The house is known for its sex parties, but 56-year-old Davenport insists the bash attended by the Corbyns was far from debauched.
“It was a very civilized affair with lots of pretty girls,” he tells me. ‘Ben is a good friend of mine and Jeremy is more than welcome. I have a big house, so it would be a shame if people didn’t come over.’
Fearne Cotton’s London neighbors needn’t worry if they hear pained screams and growls coming from next door: it’s just the sound of her home exercises.
“I make a lot of noise when I’m working out and let it all out,” admits the broadcaster, 41, who has two children with her husband, Jesse Wood, son of Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie. “You release anger and trapped energy.”
She adds, “Your neighbors may think you are under attack. Other than that it’s really good – you feel great afterwards.’
Usually known for his easygoing charm, Radio 1 DJ Greg James has made a vicious attack on fellow BBC star Alan Sugar.
“Look at those people – those billionaires are miserable,” claims James. Show me a happy billionaire and I’ll show you a liar. They are all angry. I don’t think they’re having a good time – they wear their meanness on their faces – you can see it.’
Referring to writer Bella Mackie, daughter of former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, James says: ‘My wife Bella said to me: ‘They have the face they deserve’. Alan Sugar has got the face he deserves.’
He adds of The Apprentice star, “He may have a wonderfully happy life – I’m talking specifically about his face.” He’s got a mean face – you can’t argue with that.’
(Very) modern ways
Who would have thought that a parking ticket would be a status symbol?
But that’s just what the coronation passes have become, with lucky guests showing off the round badges on their mantelpieces.
Coronation invitees must have a driver, as the passes allow one vehicle to enter Buckingham Palace to drop off guests, with the badge on the dashboard. And it must be the same car that picks them up at the end of the festivities. Guests are not allowed to leave their cars at the palace. “Some people display the pass on their mantelpiece to show off to house guests,” I was told. “Those not invited are green with envy.”