Delia, princess of cook books, joins Diana in wealth stakes

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Delia Smith, every house husband's favourite in the kitchen, is as rich as Diana, Princess of Wales, and worth more than Prince Charles, according to the annual Sunday Times Rich List.

The cookery guru shares 916th place on the list with the Princess, having amassed a pounds 17m fortune.

The list, which is published tomorrow, claims to be "the definitive guide to Britain's wealth" and includes the nation's richest 1,000 citizens. If you believe it - and it has been accused of inaccuracy in the past - their combined wealth totals a cool pounds 98.999bn.

Mohammed al-Fayed, the controversial owner of Harrods, who has consistently embarrassed the Government, is finally allowed entry after a "ringing endorsement" for his inclusion from Tiny Rowland, his former arch-enemy.

Doubts have often been raised by Mr Fayed's opponents about whether the money used to buy the Knightsbridge store actually belonged to him, but now the Sunday Times has graciously decided that it does, and puts his wealth at pounds 1bn.

Among other prominent entries in the list, which is scrutinised as much by those who appear in it as those who merely aspire, are Lakshmi and Usha Mittal, the husband and wife steel magnates whose wealth is estimated at pounds 1.5bn. They make the highest new entry at number eight.

Tony O'Reilly, the Irish businessman whose publishing company is a major shareholder in The Independent, and his wife, Chryss Goulandris, also join the list "because of O'Reilly's continued expansion into the media in Britain". Dr O'Reilly's wealth is estimated at pounds 1bn.

According to the list the top 500 added pounds 16.299bn in the last year to their respective fortunes, which now total pounds 86.877bn.

Entry to the exclusive top 500 bracket requires a personal wealth of pounds 40m, compared to pounds 35m last year.

However, the average wealth of the top 500 is put at pounds 173.7m - up pounds 33.7m on last year's average of pounds 140m.

Despite all this, Britain is still making little impact on the global wealth lists. American billionaires still dominate the world's top 10.

Simon Reeve