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Class creeps into Hugh-Jemima break-up

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AMIT ROY   |   London   |   Published 24.02.07, 12:00 AM

London, Feb. 24: Contrary to the official announcement that Hugh Grant and Jemima Khan had agreed to “an entirely amicable split”, the truth is that the 46-year-old English actor was dumped by his girlfriend because her upper class family considered him to be socially not quite her equal.

Or so it was claimed today by the Daily Mail, which quoted unnamed “sources” and “friends” to back up the assertion that it was Jemima, who broke off the relationship, rather than the other way round.

“The Mail understands that, far from being the ‘boring’ half of the partnership, Jemima ended up jettisoning Hugh because he wasn’t good enough,” the paper said today, attempting to put a new slant on the break-up.

Newspaper reports had hitherto suggested that after three years of going out with Grant, Imran Khan’s 33-year-old former wife tired of waiting for her boyfriend to make a long-term commitment to her.

Grant’s former girlfriend, Elizabeth Hurley, 41, allegedly put it about that she was sure that the actor, whom she understood well because they had previously been together for 13 years, had no intention of marrying Jemima.

But the Mail quoted a family friend: “The fact is that, from the very beginning, the Goldsmith clan realised Jemima’s relationship with Hugh would not last. In the final analysis they came from different worlds.”

Unlike Grant, whose origins were middle class, even though he went to Oxford and played foppish aristocratic Englishmen in such films as Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill, Jemima was born to wealth and privilege as the daughter of the late billionaire businessman, Sir James Goldsmith.

“To put it bluntly, Hugh was just too middle-class for the Goldsmiths, so he was always living on borrowed time,” the “friend” told the Mail. “In fact, he did rather well to last as long as he did.”

According to the paper, Jemima’s formidable mother, Lady Annabel Goldsmith, had smiled broadly at a book launch party last week where she had told her friends that her primary concern was to find a new man for her daughter.

“Jemima is doing wonderfully,” she had beamed. “All we need now is a tall, handsome stranger to sweep her off her feet and everything will be perfect.”

The Mail today offered an example of Grant’s plebeian ways: “Annabel still jokes about the time when they spent one of their first evenings together back in 2004. Jemima was ready to introduce her mother to the new man in her life over a meal when Hugh breezed in with two plastic bags of curry from the local Indian restaurant, plonked them on the table and said, ‘Tuck in, girls!’”

Now, “poor unwanted Hugh’s” friends had let on that the actor felt humiliated by the abrupt manner in which Jemima had terminated their relationship.

A “source” confided to the Mail: “It took him completely by surprise. Hugh is used to doing the dumping, so this is unfamiliar territory for him — and it’s fair to say he doesn’t like it.”

What of Grant’s future?

There has been speculation that now that the disapproving Jemima was no longer there to veto his attendance at Hurley’s wedding to her 41-year-old fiancé, Arun Nayar, the actor would attend and make a speech that was amusing without going into too much detail into how intimately he knew the bride.

But in the latest twist to this saga, Grant’s spokesperson insisted: “Hugh is not going to Elizabeth’s wedding. He was not invited and there is no weirdness or bitterness.”

He will certainly miss a series of good parties, starting with a very English wedding at Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire on March 3, followed by several days of Maharajah-style celebrations in Mumbai and Umaid Bhavan in Jodhpur.

While Hurley, whose origins are middle middle to lower middle class (though she now typifies the quintessential English beauty), has apparently done her best to sabotage Jemima’s confidence, the Mail claims that Imran had never been too flattering about Grant.

“Significantly, Lady Annabel also set great store by what Jemima’s ex-husband, Imran Khan, thought,” said the Mail. “Cricketer-turned-politician Imran, who has two sons with Jemima — Suleiman and Qasim — ‘never took to Hugh’ and, like Elizabeth Hurley, insisted from the beginning that it would ‘never last’. Imran is due to visit London and is expected to stay in his usual guest suite at Lady Annabel’s luxurious house by Ham Common. He is said to be on ‘outstanding terms’ with the Goldsmith matriarch.”

An insider told the Mail: “There is no question of Jemima and Imran getting back together, but nevertheless, Annabel treats him like a prince and very much values his opinion.”

“Imran has always felt that Hugh is just a flighty fop, a mediocre film actor with no real purpose in life,” the insider added.

“And to a greater or lesser extent, Annabel agreed with him. So there was really no way Hugh was ever going to break into the Goldsmith family's inner circle.”

The Mail did not reveal the identities of the friends, sources and the insider who had been so helpful to the paper.

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