husband unmasked as Jilly Cooper's champagne
EVER since the 24 carat cad Rupert Campbell Black bounded on to the pages of Jilly Cooper's first bonkbuster, Riders, in 1985 it's been the question her legions of fans have been burning to ask: just who is "RCB" based on?
Seventeen years and six novels later, the secret is finally out.
The hard riding seducer was inspired at least in part by none other than Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles, the former husband of the Prince of Wales's consort, Camilla.
"Yes, it was Andrew along, it has to be said, with a few of his friends that inspired me to create Rupert Campbell Black," Miss Cooper told me at the launch of website pandora her latest novel, Pandora, at Sotheby's on Tuesday evening.
"When I moved to Gloucestershire in the early 1980s, I met this amazingly glamorous group of men Andrew, Mickey Suffolk [Michael, Earl of Suffolk], Rupert Lycett Green and David Somerset [the Duke of Beaufort].
"They were a wildly dashing and exciting group, and their bravery and charisma were the essential elements of Rupert's character."
She went on: "His shittiness was entirely my invention, I hasten to add, and had nothing whatsoever to do with their found pandora bracelet behaviour."
In Riders, Campbell Black's entrance occasions the following eulogy: "Goodness, he was well constructed. Usually, men with such long legs had short bodies but Rupert, from the broad flat shoulders to the lean muscular hips and powerful thighs, seemed perfectly in proportion."
Multiple affairs and one night stands later, he became a byword for the textbook upper class bounder: a champagne swilling, showjumping champion who seduced his way round the fictional county of Rutshire accompanied by his pet lurcher, Blue, before eventually settling down with a local cook called Taggie.
Brig Parker Bowles, who attended Pandora's launch with his daughter, Laura, admitted that he had long known the role he played in Campbell Black's creation.
"Yes, I've always known I was involved, but it's not the type of thing that one goes around boasting about," pandora necklace for charms he said. "Actually, I didn't realise that Campbell Black was based on as many as four of us I thought it was just me and Mickey Suffolk.
"Still, I took it, and continue to take it, as a great compliment, although I'm nowhere near as exciting as Campbell Black.
"Jilly's been a wonderful friend ever since I met her in pandora gift card australia the aftermath of the Hyde Park bombing in the early 80s and it's great to see her still on such good form."
The Earl of Suffolk who, according to Miss Cooper, is "the kind of blue eyed beauty that only grows in Gloucestershire" confessed yesterday that he was also well aware of the part he had played in Campbell Black's creation.
He said, though, that he had been disappointed to discover he was not the only prototype. "I suppose I realised, once I had actually read Riders, that it couldn't really have been just me, I just wouldn't get that lucky," he said yesterday.
"Campbell Black and I did follow similar paths, though. Both of us had our, um, youth, but settled down in the end.
"Though whether I was ever as wild as him I couldn't say. It was so long ago I don't remember. Actually, Andrew used to live in one of my houses on the estate. We are old friends, and I am flattered and delighted to be grouped with him.
Miss Cooper, who has sold more than 11 million copies of her books in the UK alone, has set Pandora in the world of international art, where crafty dealers indulge in every kind of gallery mischief.
The central character is Raymond Belvedon, a Mayfair dealer who has a painting by Raphael stolen from his Cotswold home. Other characters include "superbrat Sienna", an artist shortlisted for the Turner Prize who is treated like a rock star.
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