The father of James Middleton’s French fiancee has revealed his joy at the couple’s engagement, saying: ‘It’s a genuine love story.’
But Jean-Gabriel Thevenet has issued his future son-in-law with some friendly advice: he needs to brush up on his French.
It was announced last week that Alizee Thevenet had accepted the marriage proposal from the Duchess of Cambridge’s younger brother. James, 32, has described how Alizee had helped to transform his life following crippling depression.
The father of James Middleton’s French fiancee has revealed his joy at the couple’s engagement, saying: ‘It’s a genuine love story’. Pictured are James Middleton and Alizee Thevenet
Now her father, a retired diplomat, has described his delight at the pair’s decision to tie the knot and hopes they will celebrate with a party in France. ‘It’s a genuine love story,’ he told The Mail on Sunday. ‘I’m absolutely delighted for them. James is a true gentleman and they make an adorable couple.’
Mr Thevenet, who runs a gite with his wife Laurence in the village of Condat-sur-Ganaveix near Limoges in central France, added: ‘I’m sure they will be so happy together. James has been out to visit us here several times and will make such a lovely husband – although he does need to work on his French a bit.’
Mr Thevenet, whose career took him to postings in countries including Chile and Indonesia, said he has met James’s parents, Carole and Michael, and described them as ‘just as charming as their son’. However, he is yet to meet Kate and Prince William.
Jean-Gabriel Thevenet said: ‘It’s a genuine love story. I’m absolutely delighted for them. James is a true gentleman and they make an adorable couple’
‘James and Alizee have not set a date yet for the wedding but I would love to have some kind of party here in the village,’ he said. ‘I know Alizee is quite stressed about all the attention she is getting. We just want them to be happy.’
Just 18 months ago, James’s family – including Kate – were accompanying him to therapy sessions to deal with his depression.
Asked if he would have found happiness with Alizee, 29, without seeking help, he told The Telegraph magazine: ‘To have fallen in love with her, and for her now to be my fiancee? Probably not…
‘The way I was a couple of years ago was about as far the other end of the scale as it could be.’ The couple, who live a quiet life in South-West London, met at the private South Kensington Club last July when James’s cocker spaniel, Ella, bounded over to Alizee. Their relationship was confirmed in January when they were spotted kissing during a holiday in the Caribbean.
Just 18 months ago, James’s family – including Kate – were accompanying him to therapy sessions to deal with his depression
Alizee, a keen skier who speaks four languages and has a masters degree in investment and finance from Queen Mary University of London, attended the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor at St George’s Chapel in Windsor in May. By contrast, her father spends much of his time renovating the charming converted watermill – Le Moulin du Chassaing – he runs as a B&B after buying it a decade ago.
‘I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’re part of the Royal Family or anything like that,’ said Mr Thevenet. ‘My wife and I are just delighted for the pair of them. We’re over the moon.’
Friends say James’s four dogs – who he also credits with helping him to deal with depression – will play a key role at the wedding. ‘They are the first on the guest list,’ said a source.
James proposed to Alizee in the Lake District last month. In an Instagram post last week that confirmed the news, the bride-to-be wore a blue sapphire engagement ring. Despite moving to the UK six years ago, friends say Alizee, who works in finance, is ‘about as French as you get’. One said: ‘She only drinks red wine and loves cheese.’
Prince William, 37, used the dazzling oval blue 18-carat sapphire and diamond ring when he popped the question to Kate Middleton, 37, in 2010.
James Middleton, 32, announced his engagement to girlfriend Alizee Thevenet, 30, with an Instagram post, tagging the post in the Lake District
James shared the adorable snap with his 142k Instagram followers, with Alizee revealing her stunning sapphire engagement ring (left). Kate Middleton also has a sapphire silver ring (right).
Prince William proposed to Kate with his late mother’s engagement ring, as a means of including her as part of the occasion.
At the time, he said: ‘It is very special to me. It was my way to make sure my mother did not miss out on today and the excitement that we are going to spend the rest of our lives together.’
At the time it cost £28,000 and was from a selection presented to Diana by jewellers Garrard. It is now valued at around £300,000.
Diana’s ring features a blue stone, which is surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds, had just eight prongs, two in each corner.
Prince William, 37, proposed to Kate Middleton in 2010 with a large sapphire silver-set ring that was once Princess Diana’s
James announced his engagement to his French girlfriend with the note, ‘She said oui’ alongside two hearts and hashtagged his post #jalizee
Meanwhile, it was revealed last Sunday that James Middleton had selected a similar blue sapphire to propose to his love, Alizee.
Announcing the engagement to his 142k followers on Instagram, he posted several heart emojis, alongside the words: ‘She said OUI. Our secret is out but we couldn’t be happier to share the news.’
The couple have been dating for around 15 months now, and the pair were first spotted together at a Middleton family holiday in St. Bart’s over Christmas.
James tagged the post in the Lake District, with the snap thought to have been taken close to Coniston Water.
James shared a short video of he and Alizee taking a dip in the sea, alongside the words ‘I asked @Alizeethevenet a question the other day
Kate’s brother shared a short video on his Instagram story as he and his new fiance shared a kiss underwater while the song ”Sexy Weekender’ by Scoundrel played in the background
He has previously spoken about how meaningful the wild countryside in North West England is for him, having holidayed there as a child.
As well as the snap, James shared an Instagram story with several pictures of the happy couple, accompanied by the song ‘Sexy Weekender’ by Scoundrel.
The song’s lyrics ‘a sexy weekend or I’ll be your man. We’ll run through the coast, yeah we’re gonna play in the sand’ could be heard while images of the couple flashed up.
James shared a short video of the couple swimming in the sea with a yacht in the background alongside the words: ‘I asked @alizeethevenet a question the other day…’
In one snap, the outdoorsy couple can be seen enjoying the mountains in the sunshine while 30-year-old Alizee beams at the camera
James, who has spoken about being a passionate beekeeper in the past, also shared a picture as he and Alizee tended to some hives
He then posted a handful of snaps of the happy outdoorsy pair could be seen cuddling in a variety of settings.
In one of the snaps, the couple can be seen in bee-keeping outfits, while in another James can be seen shirtless while Alizee laughs.
A timeline of James and Alizee’s romance
July 2018 – The couple are believed to have met when Alizee stopped to say hello to one of James’ dogs while at South Kensington Club
December 2018 – James and Alizee are seen together at Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund’s Christmas Carol Service at St. Luke’s Church.
January 2019 – Alizee was first spotted with James while she holidayed with his sister Pippa and brother-in-law James Matthews in St. Barts
7 May 2019 – James shares his first snap with Alizee on Instagram, where the couple wear matching orange jumpers. He wrote: ‘Sail Away With Me’
May 2019 – Alizee accompanies James to Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston’s wedding in Windsor alongside the Middleton family
July 2019 – Alizee joined James, sister Pippa and mother Carole Middleton in the Royal Box to watch the Wimbledon final
September 2019 – The couple move in together at James’ West London pad
5 October 2019 – Reports emerge that the couple are engaged, with James proposing in private to his beau
6 October 2019 – James announces the news on Instagram, writing: ‘She said Oui’
Last month it was revealed the couple had moved in together in West London.
A friend said at the time: ‘He seems finally to have found “The One”.’
The entrepreneur, who runs personalised greeting card company Boomf, met the 30-year-old City worker last year.
A friend revealed Miss Thevenet did not know who Mr Middleton was when they started talking at the South Kensington Club after she said hello to his Cocker Spaniel Ella.
In another of the snaps, the outdoorsy couple, who have been together for just over a year, can be seen beaming while enjoying a coastal view in the sunshine
James shared a handful of photographs alongside his beau, who he is believed to have been dating for 15 months with the song ‘Sexy Weekender’ by Scoundrel’ playing in the background
In one picture, a topless James and a windswept Alizee can be seen laughing as the couple enjoy the sunshine on another adventure
The source said at the time: ‘After Alizee went back to her table, James asked the waiter to give her a note saying: “I never normally do this, but would you like to go for a drink with me?” He also picked up their tab. A few weeks later, they went out for a drink together.
James Middleton and Alizee Thevenet attend the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Mr Thomas Kingston at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 18
‘It wasn’t until after they’d met for a drink that Alizee realised who he was — one of her friends had to tell her. They met thanks to Ella.’
The couple were spotted kissing during his New Year family getaway to the Caribbean island of St Barts in January.
According to Miss Thevenet’s father, Jean-Gabriel Thevenet, she was won over by Mr Middleton’s British charm and is ‘deliriously happy’ with the businessman.
He also revealed her unusual name takes after a tropical wind known in French as the Alize.
He added: ‘My daughter is named after my first love which is wind-surfing and the Alize wind that fills the sails.’
Miss Thevenet is a keen skier who speaks four languages, helped by growing up in Chile, Indonesia and Belgium.
She moved to Britain six years ago and has a masters degree in investment and finance from Queen Mary University of London.
Earlier this summer, the couple were attended the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston at St George’s Chapel alongside James’ parents and sister Pippa Middleton.
Mr Middleton split up with his former girlfriend – actress Donna Air – at the beginning of 2018 after a five-year romance.
The couple declined to comment.
James Middleton is to wed his French girlfriend, Alizee Thevenet. The couple were first spotted kissing during his New Year family getaway to the Caribbean island of St Barts in January
Pictured, together in May. James Middleton posted this photograph with Miss Thevenet on his Instagram page earlier this year, writing ‘Sail away with me’