Mother-in-law lays down rules of engagement – for all to see

The wedding was already going to be difficult. It now promises to be excruciating for all concerned. A bride-to-be has received a very public etiquette lesson after an email from her future mother-in-law, attacking her "uncouthness" and "lack of manners", went viral over the internet.

Heidi Withers, 29, a London PA, was sent the email by Carolyn Bourne, the stepmother of her fiancé, Freddie Bourne, also 29 and a businessman, after she visited her future in-laws in Devon. In the withering message, Mrs Bourne, 60, a championship-winning flower breeder, said: "It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you."

The email, which listed examples of Ms Withers' "lack of grace" and "insulting" behaviour, was forwarded by its startled recipient to a few of her close friends. They forwarded it to a few of theirs, and it has now arrived in the inbox of thousands of others.

Mrs Bourne, a renowned breeder of pinks and dianthus flowers who runs the Whetman Pinks nursery, described her future daughter-in-law as "an ideal candidate for the Ladette to Lady television series." She continued: "Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you and Freddie being Freddie, I gather it is not easy to reason with him or yet encourage him to consider how he might be able to help you.

"It may just be possible to get through to you though. I do hope so. Your behaviour on your visit to Devon during April was staggering in its uncouthness and lack of grace. Unfortunately, this was not the first example of bad manners I have experienced from you."

The email catalogued Ms Withers' failings during the Devon trip, including her fussiness over her food, sleeping in late and insulting the family to others in a pub. "I pity Freddie," Mrs Bourne concluded.

A friend of hers told The Independent: "She's a lovely person , calm, charming, always smiling. As the mother of teenage children myself, I can only imagine that this situation has driven her to distraction."

The Bourne ultimatum: The email that went viral

From: Carolyn Bourne

To: Heidi Withers

Subject: Your lack of manners



Here are a few examples of your lack of manners:

* When you are a guest in another's house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat, unless you are positively allergic to something

* You do not remark that you do not have enough food

* You do not start before everyone else

* You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host

* When a guest in another's house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early; you fall in line with house norms

* You should never ever insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public. I gather you passed this off as a joke but the reaction in the pub was one of shock, not laughter

* You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why

* No one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity-style behaviour

* I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters' marriages.) If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes.

* One could be accused of thinking that Heidi Withers must be patting herself on the back for having caught a most eligible young man. I pity Freddie

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Negotiator - OTE £24,000

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An enthusiastic individual is r...

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - West Midlands - OTE £35,000

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Area Manager is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - Yorkshire & Humber - OTE £35,000

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Area Manager is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Embedded Linux Engineer - C / C++

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A well funded smart home compan...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?