Will and Julia Carling split

Will Carling, the captain of the England rugby team, and his wife Julia have agreed to separate following recent press speculation over Carling's friendship with the Princess of Wales, writes Jojo Moyes.

A statement released last night said: "Will Carling and his wife Julia have agreed to spend some time apart. They both believe that they need space and some peace for the time being."

The announcement comes in the wake of a tabloid frenzy over allegations that Mr Carling had enjoyed secret meetings with the Princess of Wales.

After the initial revelations of a "close friendship", Carling announced publicly that he had been "naive" about the possibility that the friendship could be misconstrued and said he would not be seeing the princess again.

His wife, presenter of the television programme Capital Woman, told the press that the princess had "picked the wrong couple" and warned she would have a fight on her hands.

But further media interest was sparked when, shortly afterwards, Mr Carling delivered rugby shirts to princes William and Harry, the princess's sons and that Carling and the princess may have met again at an exclusive London gym.