It Was Just a Quiet Family Wedding ... in the Palace of Versailles. with Robbie

The Evening Standard (London, England), May 28, 2012 | Go to article overview

It Was Just a Quiet Family Wedding ... in the Palace of Versailles. with Robbie


Byline: Peter Allen in Versailles

SHE first made a name for herself by donating money to the Tory Party, just as her billionaire father used to. But there was nothing conservative about the multi-million-pound wedding enjoyed by Rasha Said in France at the weekend.

In scenes far away from Prime Minister David Cameron's austerity programme, the 26-year-old London-based socialite enjoyed one of the most expensive private weddings in history.

It took place at the Palace of Versailles, once home to France's spendthrift kings and queens.

The celebration, which included a live performance by pop star Robbie Williams and a 15ft-high cake, followed her wedding to fellow PR worker Khaled Khawaja, 27.

High-profile guests included Samantha Cameron's mother Annabel Astor, the chief executive of home furnishings design firm OKA, and international development minister Alan Duncan.

It was paid for by Wafic Said, the 72-year-old tycoon who is a close friend of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher and was one of the Tories' prominent financial backers before being linked to a shady arms deal.

Mr Said's donations were banned during a crackdown because he was not deemed to be a British resident, but in 2005 his daughter was recorded as giving [pounds sterling]47,000 to the Conservatives.

Then a teenager, Rasha did not have enough money to fund the donation, prompting claims that she had unlawfully acted as a proxy for her father.

But the Conservatives said the money had actually come from Rosemary Said, Rasha's British mother and an Electoral Commission inquiry found there had been no wrongdoing.

On Saturday Rasha's family and friends filled Versailles, and guests enjoyed a banquet in a resplendent state room. Dressed in black tie and ball gowns, they filed through the Hall of Mirrors, where the Treaty of Versailles was signed to officially end the First World War in 1919.

Williams, who is unlikely to put on a private performance for less than [pounds sterling]1 million, serenaded the revellers in the manicured Orangery gardens. …

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