Hugh and Jemima split: Couple announce their 'amicable' parting as three-year relationship ends

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He has built a movie career around the role of the foppish but eligible singleton, and this week Hugh Grant reclaimed his status as one of Hollywood's eternal bachelors.

After a three-year romance, the 46-year-old actor has separated from his girlfriend, the heiress Jemima Khan.

A spokesman for the actor said that the couple had "parted on good terms". "Hugh has nothing but positive things to say about Jemima," he said.

The split came just days after the couple appeared together at the London premiere of Grant's latest film, Music and Lyrics.

That evening Grant told reporters that he was "not a very romantic man", and despite his appearances in a string of soft-centred romantic comedies, he has been dubbed the ultimate commitment-phobe.

The actor gained an edge of notoriety in 1995, when he was arrested with a prostitute, Divine Brown, in Hollywood in an incident that led to the breakdown of his 13-year relationship with Elizabeth Hurley.

His relationship with Ms Khan began after the collapse of her marriage to the Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, with whom she has two sons.

Grant recently seemed to hint that he was ready to "settle down" and have children, but friends have suggested that his relationship with Ms Khan has been in trouble for some time.

The couple were seen arguing at Ms Khan's 33rd birthday party, at which she reportedly joked about Grant's commitment phobia. In turn, Grant replied that she was behaving like a dictator.

This week, a friend of Ms Khan said the heiress had never expected that the relationship would end in marriage.

"Both sides felt that it was the natural end of the long relationship," he said. "Nobody else was involved on either side. As far as Jemima was concerned, she never really felt that the relationship would lead to marriage - although she was extremely fond of Hugh."

Grant abruptly cut short a television interview earlier this month after he was questioned about possible plans to marry Ms Khan, who is the socialite daughter of the late millionaire James Goldsmith.

This week, one friend told the Evening Standard: "With Jemima he has found the perfect girl for him. She is smart, she is beautiful, she understands him. But there is nothing more annoying than everybody telling you that you have it all."

Despite receiving a critical mauling on its release, Music and Lyrics is currently number one at the British box office. Starring alongside Drew Barrymore, Grant plays a washed-up and commitment-phobic Eighties pop star.