| Imran with Jemima
London, Dec. 5: Jemima Khan has denied that her eight-year marriage to cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan is in trouble and has protested that such speculation provoked by the latest report in the London Mail on Sunday is “hurtful”.
Last weekend, the Mail on Sunday said in a diary story that “according to friends” — a favourite tabloid reference when a proper source for a story cannot be found — the celebrity couple’s marriage has run into “serious difficulties”.
Imran, 51, and his 29-year-old wife have two sons, Sulaiman, seven, and Kasim, four.
Pakistanis had attacked Jemima, who is the daughter of the late Sir James Goldsmith, a maverick billionaire, for her Jewish faith when the couple married, but she converted to Islam.
In Pakistan, where Imran is not short of political enemies, such stories about their marriage are gleefully reproduced. Imran continues to live in Pakistan, while Jemima has moved to London with her children.
In an anguished response to the report, Jemima has circulated a letter to several Pakistani papers.
“While it is true that I am currently studying for a Masters degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies, it is certainly not true to say that Imran and I are having difficulties in our marriage,” she said.
“This is a temporary arrangement and I will be moving back to Pakistan once my studies are finished and once the building of our farmhouse outside Islamabad is complete.”
She added: “Both Imran and I have become accustomed to these spiteful rumours. However that does not make them less hurtful for those around us and in particular, our family.”
Imran was once the darling of British gossip columnists who painted him as a handsome Lothario when he was single but when the cricketer married the young, beautiful and blonde Jemima, he attracted anger and jealousy in equal measure from a number of journalists, especially women.
With celebrity couples, it is traditional to write speculative stories about their marriage on the assumption that sooner or later the relationship is likely to break up. What Imran and Jemima are having to put up with is nothing compared to the pressure on “Posh and Becks” — Victoria and David Beckham.
The Mail on Sunday story was headlined, “Friends fear for Jemima and Imran”. “Is Jemima heading back to her Mum’s'” asks the writer.
The source for the story is an unnamed “close friend”, who tells the paper that Jemima has “tried very hard to make a difficult situation work. She will be 30 in January and she wants to sort out her life. While she will always love Imran, she is simply happier in London”.
Although Jemima no longer uses her maiden surname, the story begins: “The increasing time that Jemima Goldsmith is spending apart from her husband Imran Khan is fuelling speculation that the couple’s eight-year marriage is in trouble.”
Readers are also told: “Her appearance at a party for London Fashion Week last month prompted comments about her emaciated look. Jemima blamed her considerable weight loss on bouts of gastroenteritis, although one friend commented that ‘personal pressures’ had caused her fragility.”
The Mail on Sunday has not mentioned that Jemima may be living in London rather than Lahore or Islamabad simply because it is safer. There is also no mention of Imran’s ambitions. He has seen his plans to become president of Pakistan disappear into the desert sands. It may be that, by and by, he will have to move back to being a professional celebrity on the London party scene.
Should Elizabeth Hurley and Arun Nayar ever get round to marrying, they can expect similar tabloid treatment. They have had a taste of it already with rumours that the wedding is off.