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The School of Flaunt

Back when "Flying Was Fun" Alexandra Smythe and Cate Clarke were Flight Attendants with a Major International Carrier. Prior to Private Jets coming into vogue, Alexandra and Cate traveled in the First Class World, meeting and greeting the top celebrities, politicians who would become Presidents, nouveau riche, and yes the occasional Headline Grabbing Criminal in Handcuffs!

What the two ladies viewed and experienced became fodder for the School of Flaunt, so much money, such bad taste and oh those terrible manners. Something had to be done! Hence, The School of Flaunt Handbook was born. Read More

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No Royal Yacht? Take Mine!

Category: SOF Divas’ Diaries ®  |  Permalink

Published: Thursday, August 25, 2011

No Royal Yacht? You'd better borrow mine for Jubilee year, Your Majesty, says car parking tycoon

By EMILY HILL and GILL MARTIN

The Queen has only once shed tears in public - when her Royal Yacht, Britannia, was taken away in 1997.

Now she is 'delighted' that she will once again have the use of a luxury yacht, to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

The Mail on Sunday can exclusively reveal that former car park tycoon Sir Donald Gosling is to lend the Queen his 50 million pound super-yacht Leander to mark her 60 years on the Throne.

And neither the Monarch nor the taxpayer will have to pay a penny.

The 246ft yacht is normally available for charter at 440,000 pounds a week, but Sir Donald, 82, said: 'I wouldn't expect a fee for something that is on behalf of the nation.

'It's a great shame we no longer have a Royal Yacht. And while I wouldn't put Leander in the same class as Britannia, she is a good ship capable of helping out in the celebrations.

'The Queen visited Leander in Portsmouth a couple of months ago and liked what she saw. She spent a couple of hours on board and had lunch.'

A Royal source said last night: 'The Queen is delighted. She used to love to entertain on the Royal Yacht and she will love this. Leander, we understand, is to have a bit of a facelift, but it is a style she loves - quite old-fashioned, quite chintzy. She also really likes Sir Donald. He makes her laugh.'

The 1,930-ton Leander is among the world's largest and most luxurious yachts available for private charter.

It boasts two master bedrooms, eight en suite guest cabins, a sauna, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, grand piano and helipad, and is renowned for its 'fantastic cellar and phenomenal food'.

Charming and chintzy: Leander is furnished in a style the Queen is said to love. Joan Collins, Sir Tim Rice and the late Elizabeth Taylor are among those who have enjoyed Sir Donald's hospitality on board.

Although Majesty magazine editor Ingrid Seward once described Leander's decor as 'hideous', one former guest recalled: 'It's beautifully designed, with phenomenal attention to detail.'

Sir Donald's road to riches began when he was working as a trainee surveyor with Westminster City Council. That was where he met his long-term business partner, Ronald Hobson, and in October 1948 the pair bought up a bomb site in Holborn and created their first car park.

In 1959, the pair took over National Car Parks and the business thrived. The firm was sold to an American company in 1998 for 801 million. Sir Donald made 290 million from the deal.

Knighted in 1976, Sir Donald began to develop friendships with members of the Royal Family, and when Britannia was decommissioned he quietly began lending the Royals his own vessel.

In 2008, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall used Leander for their official tour of the Caribbean. Sir Donald and his long-term girlfriend Gabriella di Nora were among the guests at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in April.

Talks about the use of Leander for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee have been protracted and it is still unclear exactly what role the yacht will play.

'I have had discussions with officials but no plans are concrete,' said Sir Donald. 'It's going to be a great year and the Queen will be in enormous demand. She will be visiting much of the country and everyone is putting in bids on her time. But she will need some life to herself - she works pretty hard as it is.'

The main celebrations will take place over an extended weekend from June 2 to 5.

The central event will be a river pageant featuring a flotilla of 1,000 boats sailing down the Thames from Putney to Tower Bridge. The procession will be accompanied by fireworks and the ringing of church bells.

There will be a televised concert from Buckingham Palace and a line of jubilee beacons across the country.

A Royal source said last night: 'Sir Donald is terrifically generous and a real supporter of the Royal Family. He and the Queen get on well. She likes his down-to-earth approach.'

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the loan of Leander.

Cate:  Sounds like someone's going to have a lot of wardrobe changes in 2012!      God Save the Queen!

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