Lady Annabel Goldsmith

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Annabel Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Lady

Immediate Family:

Daughter of Robin Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 8th Marquess of Londonderry and Romaine, Marchioness of Londonderry
Wife of Sir James Michael Goldsmith
Ex-wife of Marcus Lecky Oswald Hornby Birley
Mother of Rupert Birley; <private> Birley; <private> Birley; Jemima Marcelle Goldsmith; Zac Goldsmith and 1 other
Sister of <private> Lacey (Vane-Tempest-Stewart); Alexander Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 9th Marquess of Londonderry and <private>

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Lady Annabel Goldsmith

She is a British socialite and the eponym for a celebrated London nightclub of the late 20th century, Annabel's. She was first married for two decades to entrepreneur Mark Birley, the creator of Annabel's, which she helped make a glamorous success as her husband's inaugural members-only Mayfair club. Known in London as a society hostess, during the 1960s and the 1970s, she gained notoriety in gossip columns for her extramarital affair with Anglo-French financier Sir James Goldsmith, who later became her second husband. A descendant and heiress of the Londonderry family, her primary occupation has been as a mother of six children whose births span 25 years. She is also an author and founder of the Democracy Movement, a Eurosceptic pressure group. Her son Zac Goldsmith is the Conservative MP for Richmond Park.

Lady Annabel is the mother of Rupert, Robin and India Jane Birley plus Jemima, Zac and Ben Goldsmith. She has referred to herself as "an incredible mother, rather a good mistress, but not a very good wife".With six children and five miscarriages, her primary vocation was motherhood, which prompted her to say: "I'm not judgmental about women who work, but I was so besotted with my children I never wanted them out of my sight." She was also considered a mother figure by her nieces, Ladies Cosima and Sophia Vane-Tempest-Stewart,and the late Diana, Princess of Wales. As the wife and ex-wife of two unfaithful men, she explained her marriage philosophy to the Times in 1987: "I can never understand the wives who really mind, the wives who set such store by fidelity. How extraordinary, and how mad they are. Because, surely, if the man goes out and he comes back, it's not actually doing any harm.

Annabel's and the Birleys

On 10 March 1954, at the age of 19, she married businessman Mark Birley at the Caxton Hall register office in London. Birley famously paid tribute to her by naming in her honour his renowned nightclub, Annabel's, which opened on 4 June 1963 and was run by Birley for more than forty years. During the 1960s, Lady Annabel was a constant presence at Annabel's, known as one of the grandest nightclubs of the sixties and seventies, where she entertained guests ranging from Ted and Robert F. Kennedy to Frank Sinatra, Prince Charles, Richard Nixon, and Muhammad Ali. "I used to be there every night, even when I had three small children to take to school the next day. It was like a second home to me," she recalled.

She raised her three children with Birley at Pelham cottage. Her eldest son Rupert, who was born on 20 August 1955, studied at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford. In 1986, he disappeared off the coast of Togo in West Africa, where he was presumed drowned."There really is nothing worse than losing a child - and there is something special about your first-born," she said, adding that, "Because I was so young when Rupert was born ... we were more like good friends than mother and son." Her second son Robin (b. 19 February 1958) is a businessman, whose face was disfigured as a child when he was mauled by a tigress at John Aspinall's private zoo. Having let him go near the pregnant tigress, Lady Annabel said, "It was my own fault. I was, am, angry with myself." Her first daughter India Jane (b. 14 January 1961), the granddaughter of society portrait painter Sir Oswald Birley, is an artist.

The Birleys separated in 1972 and later divorced in 1975 after the birth of her second child with James Goldsmith. "Our breakup was because of Mark's infidelities, not because I fell in love with Jimmy," she told Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth after Birley's death. Revealing that Birley had numerous other girlfriends from the beginning of their relationship, she added: "I think he was absolutely incapable of being faithful. He was a serial adulterer. Like a butterfly, he had to seduce every woman.Despite their divorce, the two remained best friends and soulmates, talking to each other every day and holidaying together until Birley's death in August 2007. Birley said they were "the true loves of each other's lives".

Goldsmith affair and remarriage

In 1964, she embarked on a decade-long extramarital affair with the entrepreneur Sir James Goldsmith. Attracted by his flashiness, she said, she was "Mad about Jimmy. Loved Mark desperately." Though both she and Goldsmith, who was then married to his second wife Ginette Lery, believed that the affair would be a passing fling, it soon gained her notoriety in London's gossip columns as a modern British mistress. For years, she repeatedly refused Goldsmith's suggestion of starting a family, stating, "I didn't want to hurt Mark any more than I had." She was eventually coaxed into having his children by their mutual friend John Aspinall, an estranged former friend of Mark Birley who introduced her to Goldsmith.

While still legally married to Birley, she gave birth to Jemima (b. 30 January 1974), who later married cricketeer Imran Khan; and Zac (b. 20 January 1975), who is the estranged husband of writer Sheherazade Ventura-Bentley.Her last child Ben Goldsmith was born on 28 October 1980 at 46, after two consecutive miscarriages. The children were raised in Ormeley Lodge in Ham, London. The half-Jewish and half-Catholic Goldsmith was an occasional presence in their lives as he divided time between three families. In 1978, Goldsmith and Lady Annabel married solely to legitimize their children."We didn't marry as a great act of passion. More to make sure that the children's name would be Goldsmith when they went to school," she explained.

Goldsmith moved to New York with his new mistress Laure Boulay, Comtesse de la Meurthe in 1981 and spent the last years of his life mostly in France and Mexico. He became known for quoting Sacha Guitry's words, "If you marry your mistress you create a job vacancy." Often wrongly credited with the quote, Goldsmith admitted, "I quoted him at dinner, and it was pinned on me. I don't mind. ... I just don't want to claim what's not mine." On his infidelities, Lady Annabel revealed that, despite her aversion to any form of confrontation, "I did feel jealous. I used to scream at him." In 1997, she and her youngest three children inherited a portion of Goldsmith's wealth, estimated varyingly at £1.6 or between $1.7-$2.4 billion.


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Lady Annabel Goldsmith's Timeline

June 13, 1934
January 30, 1974
Age 39
January 20, 1975
Age 40
Westminster Hospital, Westminster, London, England
October 28, 1980
Age 46
Westminster, London, England