She came to the end of her life with one of the grandest titles of all: The Dowager Countess of Harewood. But to those who remember the former Sydney model and violinist known around the bohemian cafes of post-war Potts Point simply as "Bambi", there was nothing grand about her at all.

Patricia "Bambi" Tuckwell (Shmith), who became the Countess of Harewood.

"She was deeply unpretentious," her friend of 40 years, Sydney theatrical executive producer Noel Staunton, recalled to PS just days after news emerged that the 91-year-old, who in 1964 found herself at the centre of the biggest royal scandal since the abdication, had left this mortal coil.

"They were a renaissance couple, with a real lust for life. Wonderful conversationalists, a weekend at Harewood House was an incredible experience. Yes, it was all very grand, but they made it incredibly welcoming too … there would be a bloody mary waiting for you as soon as you walked through the door."

Staunton first met Lady Harewood in 1980 when he worked as the technical director of the National Opera in London and his boss was her husband, George Lascelles, the 7th Earl of Harewood, who was George V and Queen Marys eldest grandchild and sixth in line to the British throne when he was born.


The Queen's cousin, the Earl of Harewood, and his Australian-born Countess (formerly Bambi Tuckwell, of Melbourne).

That was a decade and a half after the scandal that would haunt the couple for years after Bambi gave birth to the Earl of Harewoods son in 1964 while he was still married to his first wife, Marion (who later went on to marry politician Jeremy Thorpe).

Lord Harewood and Patricia Tuckwell (right) drive from London airport after arrival from the US where they were married in New Canaan, Connecticut on August 3, 1967.

Photo: AP

Bambi would become Lady Harewood when she married the earl in 1967 after finally winning the Queen's approval, and amid a blaze of scandalous headlines.

Lord and Lady Harewood with items from Harewood House on display at DJ's Gallery, Elizabeth Street, in 1978.

Photo: Fairfax Media

"They never really talked about it in great detail. I think they had relegated it to history, something that was in their past that they could not change," Staunton told PS. "To me they were an incredibly well-suited couple, both intellectually and emotionally: true renaissance people who loved culture."

For nearly 20 years Lord Harewood and his wife were effectively banned from court over the scandal, but by the early 1980s they were eventually accepted into royal life, with Bambi donning Queen Victoria's "breakfast tiara" when the Queen made her first public appearance with the couple.

Born in the Melbourne suburb of Prahran, Patricia Tuckwell was a renowned model back in Australia who had become a violinist for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the tender age of 16. Music was in her genes, as her father, Charles Tuckwell, was a theatre organist and constantly on the move, the family living in 20 different locations over two decades. Her brother Barry Tuckwell went on to become a leading horn player.

Patricia "Bambi" Tuckwell was a violinist.

Photo: Fairfax

Her first husband was Melbourne photographer Athol Shmith. They were married in 1948 when she was 21 and their son, Michael, was born the following year.

According to Shmith, his mother maintained her Australian identity throughout her life, even as she became ensconced as the chatelaine of the grand Palladian pile Harewood House.

"Despite her living in England for a good two-thirds of her life, my mother always maintained an essential streak of Australian character that never diminished," Shmith told PS this week.

"I remember, in the '70s, how she brought the art of the barbecue to Harewood, the equipment being an old kerosine tin and rolled-up copies of The Daily Express.

"For the past quarter of a century, one of her favourite programs was Neighbours, which she watched religiously, five nights a week. But her love for her native country went far deeper than that, embracing Australian art, music, literature and television.

"A few years ago, when she was allowed to regain the Australian citizenship she had to surrender when she became a British citizen, she came to Melbourne for six weeks. Part of the joy of doing so was so she could enter the country via the Australian nationals queue, and not line up with the rest of the foreigners."

Trophy lives deserve more recognition

There is no question that Delta Goodrem and Elle Macpherson were deserving recipients in their respective categories at Wednesday night's Instyle Women of Style Awards, but let's face it, those ladies already have impressive trophy rooms in their honour.

Rather, on the 10th anniversary of the awards, it was refreshing to see a few less famous but equally deserving women being publicly acknowledged for their respective achievements.

Take 16-year-old Melbourne schoolgirl and young adventurer Jade Hameister for example.

Melbourne teenage adventurer Jade Hameister on her trek to the South pole in January 2018.

Photo: Supplied

Hameister clearly has little time for selfies on Instagram. Instead she was recognised for her efforts conquering the Polar Hat-Trick: skiing to the North Pole, South Pole and across the second largest polar ice cap in Greenland.

Watching on in the crowd, actor Marta Dusseldorp was almost brought to tears listening to the teenager's achievements, disrupting her own speech to pay tribute to the youngster, while the "social media influencers" in the room looked on in awe.

Emily Taylor, Mikaela Jude and Melissa Doyle at the 2018 Instyle Audi Women of Style Awards at Foundation Hall, MCA, Circular Quay on Wednesday.

Photo: Belinda Rolland

A proud indigenous woman and chief executive of technology company Indigital, Mikaela Jade, scooped honours for her work in launching a first-of-its-kind app that connects people with Aboriginal history through their smartphone.

Susan Alberti, former vice president of the Western Bulldogs Football Club.

Photo: Eddie Jim

And who could not be anything but in awe of Susan Alberti, affectionately known as The Footy Lady, who received a standing ovation for her work on the advancement of womens AFL and her ongoing contribution to funding research – to the tune of millions of dollars – to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes, a disease that ultimately claimed her own daughter's life.

Unique collection goes up for auction

Evan Hughes sums up his late father, the Sydney art collector and gallery owner Ray Hughes, in one sentence: "Ray had more time for the impoverished and interested than he ever did for the rich and dumb. I guess that's why he upset a lot of people in the art world."

Ray Hughes at Beppi's restaurant in 2014.

Photo: Louise Kennerley

Next Monday and Tuesday, more than 500 pieces from the enormous personal collection of Ray Hughes are set to go under the hammer at Shapiro Auctions in Woollahra, but Evan Hughes says it is only a small portion of the more than 3000 works he has inherited.

"Some of it will be donated to the Art Gallery of NSW and Queensland Art Gallery, and I hope to start up a foundation, a cultural learning centre, focusing on the significant Asian and American pieces," he told PS.

"It is an enormous responsibility, and trying to maintain such a vast collection is a difficult task, but the last thing we wanted was for the works to be donated to a museum and locked away in a vault … that's not what dad wanted.

Evan Hughes, at the warehouse, with African art collected by his father that he is about to sell.

Photo: Louie Douvis

"It was painful but beautiful to watch him go, ultimately surrounded by the life of artworks that he made his own. The nature of this sale is to provide a complete encapsulation and record of a visionary collecting eye, as much for posterity as those who will purchase works from a unique collection."

Hughes died last December, aged 72, after a bout of pneumonia.

For more than 45 years the larger-than-life dealer was a key figure on the Australian art scene, opening his first gallery in Brisbane in 1969, when contemporary art was still, in Hughes' word, something best looked at in private.

He expanded into Sydney in the mid-1980s, running galleries in both cities for a short while before consolidating in the multi-storey Surry Hills building he bought in 1987.

Hughes ran a gallery there until Christmas 2015, when his declining health and the decision of co-owner Evan to pursue a different career path led them to close the doors.

"It has been a very emotional experience going through the collection, but I have been living with it since I was a two-year-old boy … it has always been a part of my life," Evan Hughes said.

"Art was Ray's passion – he would talk to anybody about it … I want the work to continue inspiring and educating people about art."

Kidman comes home to visit mum

Janelle Kidman had barely been discharged from Royal North Shore Hospital on Tuesday when she was sitting at high tea the next day with her Oscar-winning daughter, Nicole, at the Intercontinental in Double Bay.

Nicole Kidman flew into town this week.

Photo: AP

Kidman flew into Sydney on Wednesday with her husband, Keith Urban, and their daughters, Sunday Rose and Faith.

Urban also managed to fit in a mini concert on Wednesday night for his music label while Kidman was spotted spending the day at author Liane Moriarty's Pymble home. Moriarty is the author behind Big Little Lies, the television series Kidman starred in and co-produced with Reese Witherspoon, and which landed Kidman a Golden Globe award this year.

Production has already begun on a second season, again penned by Moriarty.

All that glitters is not gold at fund-raiser

It must be tough being one of Sydney's silver tails. What with the upkeep on those harbour-front piles, maintaining the Bentley and Rolls, paying the never-ending bills on your fleet of superyachts, private jets and private islands … and then there are the charities constantly trying to shake a coin or two out of those well-worn pockets.

Boo hoo, Sydney, you can do better.

Thursday night's annual Sydney Children's Hospital Gold Dinner raised $1.6 million. A decent amount, but when the room is collectively worth about 5000 times that, things are put back into sharp perspective.

This year's result was nearly $400,000 less than last year, and when certain guests are preoccupied uploading shots of their designer purses, couture gowns and jewels during the evening, we have to wonder why they bothered to go.

Roxy Jacenko and her husband, Oliver Curtis, at the Gold Dinner.

Kudos to mining mogul Sanjeev Gupta, who wasn't even present but coughed up $50,000. So too did Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and billionaires Lang Walker and new kid on the block Mike Cannon-Brookes. Also a deserved thanks to the army of volunteers who begged, scraped and borrowed to put the event on.

And as Roxy Jacenko, with her former jailbird husband Oliver Curtis by her side, bathed in flashbulbs in a "mullet dress" of 200 metres of Italian tulle by Five Dock "couturier" Velani, we should not forget who the real stars of the night were: those dedicated medical staff, parents and young cancer patients who shared their incredible stories of survival … and loss. More strength -and dollars – to them.

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Andrew Hornery

Senior journalist Andrew Hornery is the man behind The Sydney Morning Herald's Private Sydney column. If they are worth knowing about, they are on the PS radar.

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