For the discerning business traveller looking for somewhere to overnight, the St Cyrus Village Inn in Aberdeenshire comes highly recommended by its guests.
Situated just a stone’s throw from the chilly shores of the North Sea, the three-star hotel’s capacious ensuite rooms are priced at a very reasonable £40 a night for single occupancy.
Most importantly of all, the hotel is open to essential workers who, despite the lockdown, find it necessary to travel for work.
The mystery is, then, why Peter Phillips didn’t think to book a room there during his 920-mile round trip to Scotland last week.
Instead, Princess Anne’s son, 15th in line to the throne, stayed the night a minute’s walk away at the home of his sister’s old school chum, elegant blonde mother-of-two Lindsay Wallace. In doing so, it’s fair to say, he put a few local noses out of joint.
Disgruntled neighbours who spotted Phillips’s swanky black Range Rover parked on the driveway of Mrs Wallace’s £475,000 home summoned the police believing that the Queen’s grandson had broken Scotland’s strict Covid-19 lockdown laws.
Not so! — said Mr Phillips’s ‘people’ — who were swift to quash rumours he had broken lockdown laws or that the purpose of his visit was personal.
Pictured: Peter Philips, Autumn Phillips and children Savannah and Isla at the Trooping the Colour ceremony in London, June 8, 2019. Princess Anne’s son, 15th in line to the throne, stayed the night a minute’s walk away at the home of his sister’s old school chum, elegant blonde mother-of-two Lindsay Wallace
Police officers who visited the pair at Lindsay’s home are said to have ‘issued advice’ but, ultimately, decided no breach of rules had taken place.
Phillips, it was claimed, was in Scotland on important business and not, simply, to visit 40-year-old oil tycoon’s daughter Lindsay, a close friend of his sister Zara and a former pupil at Gordonstoun, the £40,000-a-year boarding school they attended.
Indeed, this week royal sources continued to play down speculation that Peter is ‘besotted’ with 40-year-old Lindsay and that they have been ‘keeping things under wraps’.
But questions continue to circulate about why, if there is no romance, marketing consultant Peter stayed at her home when hotels across the UK are open to business travellers.
A spokesman for Phillips, whose company XF Medical provides Covid tests administered by ex-Forces personnel, refused to divulge ‘commercially sensitive’ information about why he visited the village. Another source close to the royal is said to have explained that Peter stayed with Lindsay as ‘he couldn’t find a hotel’.
That claim was met with surprise by Ian Baillie, owner of the St Cyrus Village Inn. While the past two weeks have seen business pick up, he said he did have available rooms last Friday night, when Peter was in town.
‘We’re open at the moment for essential travellers only,’ he said. ‘We’re actually pretty busy and most of our guests are railway workers, but there would have been room last Friday if he’d wanted to book.’
Phillips is thought to have driven to Mrs Wallace’s house on Thursday, March 25, from his mother’s Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire, where his ex-wife Autumn continues to live with the couple’s two daughters. More of their unconventional living arrangements later.
After police visited at around 6.40pm on March 26, he drove away with his hood pulled up to conceal his face.
A village resident told The Sun: ‘It seems wrong he has travelled here from England, whatever the circumstances. Scotland is closed and if you flew here you would have to quarantine for ten days.’
But a spokesman for Phillips denied anything untoward had taken place. ‘Peter Phillips travelled to Scotland on business in connection with his work for XF Medical which operates in the Covid testing arena,’ he told this newspaper. ‘We do not comment on details or circumstances of Mr Phillips’ accommodation when travelling on business.’ The spokesman would not expand on the exact nature of the business trip.
It is not the first time the 43-year-old’s 4X4 has been spotted outside Mrs Wallace’s double-garaged driveway. He also visited her in August last year — bringing his daughters, ten-year-old Savannah and nine-year-old Isla, and friends — but spent the night at Balmoral with the Queen.
Disgruntled neighbours who spotted Phillips’s swanky black Range Rover parked on the driveway of Mrs Wallace’s (pictured) £475,000 home summoned the police believing that the Queen’s grandson had broken Scotland’s strict Covid-19 lockdown laws
He was three years above Lindsay at Gordonstoun, the school also attended by Prince Philip and Prince Charles, but the pair are believed to have reconnected at a reunion.
Lindsay, who was born and raised in Scotland and whose parents are said to be ‘pillars of the community’, has remained a friend of his sister Zara. She was a guest at her 2011 Edinburgh wedding to rugby player Mike Tindall, where she was spotted in a pink hat and cream silk coat.
The stay-at-home mother parted from businessman Andrew, her husband of 11 years, at around the same time last year that Phillips announced he and his wife Autumn were divorcing after 12 years of marriage.
Phillips’s spokesman insists that Lindsay is simply ‘a family friend of Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall’.
Time will tell if their friendship has grown into something romantic.
If that is the case, it would raise questions about Peter’s domestic arrangements with his 41-year-old ex-wife, Autumn.
After the couple announced their separation in February last year, it was thought that she might want to return to her native Canada.
Instead, she continues to live at Gatcombe Park, albeit in separate accommodation, so she and Peter can co-parent their daughters.
The girls are said to be very close to Princess Anne as well as Zara and Mike Tindall’s children, seven-year-old Mia, two-year-old Lena and their son, Lucas, who was born on the estate just 13 days ago.
Peter and Autumn’s business interests have centred on events management, an industry devastated by the pandemic.
Phillips is one of three founding directors of XF Medical, which was launched last June at the height of the UK’s first Covid-19 lockdown. Based on the King’s Road in Chelsea, the firm is said to be setting up a nationwide testing network.
Phillips, who like his sister was raised without an HRH on their mother’s insistence, is described on the company’s website as an ‘entrepreneur with a background in sports and entertainment’.
Phillips is thought to have driven to Mrs Wallace’s house on Thursday, March 25, from his mother’s Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire, where his ex-wife Autumn continues to live with the couple’s two daughters. More of their unconventional living arrangements later
The past few years have seen the Exeter University graduate dipping his well-bred toes into various commercial ventures — and not always with the greatest success.
In 2019, Phillips registered a new company called Festival of British Eventing Ltd after taking over as event director of the annual national equestrian championships at his mother’s Gloucestershire estate. Accounts filed in October last year show the company made a loss of £26,412.
He is also a director and shareholder of SEL UK, a sports and events firm which is a division of an Australian company set up in 2012 by a friend of his father, Captain Mark Phillips. Latest accounts show the company’s losses soared to more than £300,000 in 2019.
Another of his companies, City Racing Ltd, was nursing more than a million in trading losses when it filed its accounts at the end of last year. More than a sixth of its staff have been placed on furlough.
Phillips’s other ongoing business ventures include alternative energy firm Fish Pond Ring Ltd, which produces hydroelectricity at Gatcombe and, having posted losses for the six years since Phillips founded it as a sole director, is now more than £250,000 in the red.
He has also proved willing to capitalise on his regal ties. He sold pictures of his 2008 Windsor wedding to Autumn Kelly to Hello! Magazine for £500,000, apparently causing outrage within the Royal Family. He also organised a charity Patron’s Lunch in 2016, in honour of the Queen’s 90th birthday, for which one of his companies was paid almost as much as that generated for good causes.
Perhaps most controversial of all was the advert he starred in last year for China’s Dragon TV to promote Jersey milk. Sitting in front of an image of Longleat, the aristocratic seat of the Marquess of Bath, he was given a glass of milk and said: ‘This is what I drink,’ as a tagline described him as ‘British Royal Family member, Peter Phillips.’
Autumn, meanwhile, is a director of SCGB — Super Cars Great Britain — which offers guided driving holidays for supercar owners. Set up with friend Rachael Thomson, their last jaunt in June 2018 took place from Split in Croatia to Venice with an entrance fee of £8,500.
The pair are described in company literature as ‘elite professionals with more than ten years’ experience with high net worth events’.
After police visited at around 6.40pm on March 26, he drove away with his hood pulled up to conceal his face. Pictured: The hotel down the road
Unfortunately, micro-accounts filed in June last year show the company has net assets of only £7,584 and owes £50,137. SCGB and another of her businesses, APP Consultancy Ltd, have both used taxpayer cash to prop themselves up by furloughing staff.
Ironically, the one business that appears to be doing modestly well is jointly run by Peter and Autumn. Pheasant and Partridge Enterprises Ltd, an events firm setting up shoots, had net assets of £97,000 in 2020, up from £20,500 in 2019.
The company is registered to the couple’s former marital home, Aston Farm, a golden Cotswold farmhouse nestling in 730 acres on Princess Anne’s estate.
Princess Anne lives nearby in the estate manor house with her second husband, Sir Timothy Laurence. Zara and her family also live on the estate.
There are several cottages and converted barns on the estate near Minchinhampton which was bought by the Queen for Anne and her first husband in 1976, so there is no shortage of alternative properties for Autumn to live in.
Friends point out that, despite being 15th in line to the throne, Phillips doesn’t receive any public money and is therefore under constant pressure to provide an income for himself and his family.
And while his royal connections have undoubtedly given him a leg up in the world of work, they also bring public scrutiny, especially from curtain-twitching locals in St Cyrus, wanting to know why he felt it necessary to travel the length of the country in the middle of a pandemic.