SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Earl Of Carnarvon's mother Jean unlikely to see Queen ...

The Earl of Carnarvon — whose family seat, Highclere Castle, is where Downton Abbey was filmed — is caught up in a real-life family drama.

His mother, Jean — whose husband Porchy had a close relationship with the Queen — is seriously ill after suffering a heart attack.

However, she cannot return to Highclere, in Hampshire, from her native America because her medical insurance prohibits her from flying.

'She's not allowed to travel because her heart's not great,' her second son Harry Herbert, a racing manager, tells me. 

'You can't insure her.' Sadly, it means Jean is never likely to be reunited with her close friend the Queen, who no longer undertakes long-haul travel.

Pictured: The Earl and countess of Carnarvon at Royal Ascot in 2001 

Pictured: The Earl and countess of Carnarvon at Royal Ascot in 2001 

It was with Jean, in Highclere's relatively modest dower house, that the Queen spent the weekend before her 90th birthday celebrations.

Jean also accompanied her to the Chelsea Flower Show and Windsor Horse Show in 2016.

Harry must travel to Wyoming to see his mother and is taking his new girlfriend, Irish chef Clodagh McKenna. 

Speaking at a party in Piccadilly, he says: 'It's awful. She went from fit as a fiddle — the most beautiful woman you have ever seen — three years ago, to a wreck.'

The Dowager Countess of Carnarvon's son Harry Herbert is pictured with with his girlfriend Clodagh 

The Dowager Countess of Carnarvon's son Harry Herbert is pictured with with his girlfriend Clodagh 

Born Jean Wallop, the Dowager Countess is now 83. Her husband, Porchy, became close to the Queen when he was her racing manager.

His sudden death aged 77 in 2001 was a shattering blow to the monarch. It came on the same day as the September 11 terrorist attack on New York's World Trade Centre and many saw a personal touch in the emotional message she sent to be read at a service of remembrance.

'Nothing that can be said can begin to take away the anguish and the pain of these moments,' she wrote. 'Grief is the price we pay for love.' 

Marriage? Don't ask Knowles tells Harry 

Former building site labourer Nick Knowles has become an unlikely friend of Princes William and Harry, even persuading the Duke of Cambridge to appear in a special edition of his BBC show DIY SOS, to rebuild a boxing club destroyed in the Grenfell Tower fire.

'I used to live down the road from Harry,' Knowles tells me. 'But it's not like he popped in for a cup of sugar every five minutes.'

Former building site labourer Nick Knowles (pictured) has become an unlikely friend of Princes William and Harry, writes Sebastian Shakespeare 

Former building site labourer Nick Knowles (pictured) has become an unlikely friend of Princes William and Harry, writes Sebastian Shakespeare 

The 55-year-old presenter also worked on a two-part documentary in aid of the young royals' charity Heads Together, which followed ten mental health sufferers who came together to run the London Marathon.

Knowles's estranged

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