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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 June, 2004, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
A parting of the ways
By Ivo Tennant, Imran Khan's biographer

Imran and Jemima Khan
Imran and Jemima come from radically different backgrounds
From the outset Imran Khan's marriage to Jemima Goldsmith would face the severest of tests.

Their contrasting background, age and upbringing meant that it would always be under pressure.

At the time of her engagement in 1995, Jemima Goldsmith was a 21 year old socialite, more than two decades younger than Imran Khan.

She was the daughter of one of the richest men in the world, Sir James Goldsmith, and from a Jewish background.

'Playboy image'

He had just retired from international cricket, earning legendary status in Pakistan for his role in winning the 1992 cricket world cup.

Their different lives prior to marriage meant that both had to make radical changes after their wedding. He would have to abandon the itinerant playboy image acquired during his bachelor years, and she would have to adjust to living in Pakistan and adopting the Muslim faith.

Hugh Grant
The actor Hugh Grant is one of a number of celebrities seen with Jemima Khan recently

Jemima may have come from a wealthy background, but her new husband - a proud man - was not interested in taking any of his father-in-law's money.

She would have to get used to living with an extended South Asian family in a middle class Pakistani household in Lahore, with uncertain water and electricity supplies.

The tabloid press in Britain reported that she did not even have a washing machine and slept in the same bed as her two sons.

Imran Khan may be a cricketing aristocrat who dated some well known British heiresses, but he has never lived a life of grandeur. His father was an engineer who taught him always to watch the financial outgoings.

Initially it seemed that she was adjusting to her new lifestyle despite the difficulties, playing a prominent role in her husband's cancer hospital. She also became an ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund in 1991.

But it was not too long before the difficulties emerged.

I moved to Pakistan and straight in with Imran's extended family - his father, sisters, brothers-in-law and nephews and nieces. A lot of people said, 'Oh my god, you live with your in-laws'
Jemima Khan, speaking in Pakistani magazine, Newsline, in November 2002

Imran may have abandoned his nomadic cricketing existence, but his time on the road had not come to an end.

He was constantly travelling in the early years of their marriage to promote his political career and the Tehreek-e-Insaf party which he founded in 1996.

There were reports that Jemima was becoming increasing frustrated over Imran's fledgling political career, and wanted him to spend more time at home.

'Highly upset'

On top of that, she always seemed to miss Britain - where she had started a designer clothes company - and was reportedly keen for her children to be educated in her homeland.

Like her friend Diana Princess of Wales, past girlfriends of her husband always seemed to hover over the marriage.

In May 2004, one of those old girlfriends, the millionairess Sita White, died suddenly of a heart attack. Her daughter Tyrian was proven to be Imran Khan's child in 1997.

Imran denied he had fathered the little girl until a legal suit proved otherwise. He did not meet Tyrian until she was six years old.

Jemima was reported to be "highly upset" about the court case, even though she and Imran are now reported to have developed a close relationship with Tyrian.

In the later years of her marriage Jemima spent more and more time in Britain, ostensibly to study but also mixing with celebrity friends including the actor Hugh Grant, Princess Rosario of Bulgaria and supermodels Elle Macpherson and Laura Baily.

She celebrated her 30th birthday in February surrounded by supermodels, superstars and society figures, but her husband remained 4,000 miles away in Pakistan.

The pressures on her life seemed to mount up in recent years.

In January 2001 a mentally ill passenger attempted to seize control of a plane in which she was travelling with her family in Africa.

It plunged nearly 10,000 feet before air staff reclaimed control of the plane. The Goldsmith family were all convinced that they were about to die.

Just over a year later, a knife wielding burglar broke into her London house - despite multi-million dollar security measures.

While all these factors undoubtedly would have placed a strain on the marriage, ultimately the break-up appears due to the differences of east and west.

Culturally, socially and financially Imran and Jemima were always worlds apart.


SEE ALSO:
Imran angry at unfair portrayal
05 Apr 00 |  South Asia
Imran Khan's new game
09 Jul 98 |  South Asia


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