In the tiny village of Churchill deep in the Oxfordshire countryside yesterday, the power brokers of British politics and media gathered with some of the best-known faces from the worlds of racing, society and fashion for the wedding of the year.
A party attended by Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Rupert Murdoch might normally see paparazzi swarming, hoping to catch an illicit glimpse of the powerful couple. Not so yesterday. Rebekah Wade, 41, the editor of The Sun, Britain's biggest-selling newspaper, knows too much to allow her wedding to former racing trainer and international playboy Charlie Brooks to reach the public eye. The couple had exchanged rings at a quiet ceremony at St Bride's church in Fleet Street on Friday with "only their mothers" attending.
Yesterday, a "media blackout" orchestrated by the PR expert Matthew Freud was in operation. His wife Elisabeth's father, Rupert Murdoch, whose News International Corporation owns The Sun, as well as Sky, flew in last week for the event. Other friends on the couple's guest list included Jeremy Clarkson and his wife Francie, in whose house Ms Wade and Mr Brooks met. Then there was the Carphone Warehouse founder, Charles Dunstone, Blur bassist Alex James and Viscountess Daventry, as well as the Osbornes, the singer Stevie Winwood and the former Mr Madonna, Guy Ritchie.
The event was a far cry from the Las Vegas wedding which saw Ms Wade hitched to the Eastenders actor Ross Kemp in 2002. Their divorce came through last March, and followed an episode in 2005 that saw Ms Wade held in the cells overnight after Mr Kemp alleged she had hit him following a drinking bout with the recently resigned David Blunkett.
Yesterday's eclectic guest list reflected the diversity of the couple's backgrounds. She is the grammar-school girl from Warrington who began her career as a secretary on the News of the World and became that paper's editor. Nicknamed variously Champagne Charlie and Looks Brooks, the groom, 46, has led a charmed life after leaving Eton, becoming a racehorse trainer after an accident ended his hopes of being a jockey. A regular of the society pages, he has been linked to, among others, Anna Wallace, one-time girlfriend of Prince Charles, Eimear Montgomerie, former wife of golfer Colin Montgomerie, Maureen Piggott, daughter of jockey Lester. and Miriam Francome, ex-wife of jockey John Francome.
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