In a Youthful Dress and Flattering Make-Up to Hide Her 66 Years, Britain's Oldest Mother Shows off Her Newborn Son. Here, Those Closest to Her Reveal the Full Intriguing Story of Whysheleft Motherhood So Late -- and Has Nothing but Scorn for Her Critics
Byline: by Barbara Davies
WHEN she emerged from hospital this week, gently cradling her newborn son in her arms, Britain's oldest mother seemed determined to look rather younger than her 66 years. Elizabeth Munro wore a flowing maxi dress, left her carefullystyled hair hanging loosely around her shoulders and wore subtle, flattering make-up.
But the soft, radiant image that she defiantly presented to her critics has done little to stave off accusations that, by going abroad for IVF, she has also defied nature and risks leaving her son an orphan in childhood.
Indeed, as one former acquaintance revealed this week, Elizabeth's own beloved mother died, aged 68, after battling breast cancer when she was barely a year older than her only daughter is now. Elizabeth, who has been of pensionable age for nearly seven years, will turn 67 next month on July 5. But according to those who know the highly successful businesswoman from Suffolk -- who was once married to the Queen's official whipmaker -- Elizabeth has never cared much for the opinions of others.
'It will be just me and my baby. I know some people won't understand, but I don't care,' has been her only public utterance on the subject of her controversial and very modern bid for motherhood.
'Elizabeth is highly driven and ambitious,' says one former acquaintance. 'She's remarkably resilient, dogged even. She's a domineering, egotistical character who is used to getting her own way.' Combine this with the divorcee's wealth and the fact that she always wanted children and perhaps it was inevitable that she would eventually find a way to become a mother -- even without a man in her life to be a father to her child.
'Elizabeth has always believed there were practical solutions to anything in life,' adds the acquaintance.
The surprise is, of course, that with such a strong maternal instinct, she waited so long to embark on motherhood.
But then Elizabeth was born into a staunchly middle-class, highly-educated Scottish family, inheriting a strong work ethic from both her parents -- and, from her mother Jessie, a belief that being a woman was no barrier to professional success.
Her family's business acumen can be traced back to the turn of the century. Her maternal grandfather, Joseph Gold Robertson, a scientist, inventor and a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemists, invented plastic material for moulding, as well as insulating slabs for refrigerators, before setting up his own company.
His daughter, Jessie, Elizabeth's mother, also worked as a company director.
Elizabeth herself was born in 1942 in Chiswick, where her father George, an electrical engineer, was working at a new power station built to power the London Underground. She was educated privately, but according to one source had little interest in academia. Instead, she chose to follow her mother and grandfather into the world of commerce.
Today, her Suffolk-based company, Delmore Ltd, manufactures plastic and textile items, including disposable hospital 'slipperettes' and eyemasks for the NHS. Elizabeth lives alone, near the factory's Mildenhall plant, in a [pounds sterling]600,000 house in the picturesque village of Lidgate.
One of the bedrooms was converted into a nursery long before she gave birth, and a full-time nanny has also been installed. Elizabeth also owns an apartment in South Africa, in a complex designed for retirees in the upmarket Cape Town suburb of Rondebosch.
There is little doubt that her professional life has been a success, but it came, according to acquaintances, at the expense of her private life.
'She was hugely money-orientated, always going on about how economic independence was the key to a happy life,' says one long-standing acquaintance.
'She was a proper entrepreneur, and an admirer of Margaret Thatcher. Her professional life was hugely successful and very busy; she blamed this for not having settled down earlier. …