The Day I Discovered the Man from UNCLE’s Son Was Really Mine

George de Vere Drummond – a godson of King George VI – speaks for the first time about the son he never knew he had Just weeks before his wedding to supermodel Claudia Schiffer, 31-year-old film producer Matthew Vaughn was given extraordinary news: actor Robert Vaughn, famous for The Man From U.N.C.L.E., announced that the Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels producerwas not his son. Now, in an exclusive interview, his real father, aristocrat George de Vere Drummond, above, speaks for the first time about his newlydiscovered son, his supermodel daughter-in-law and the affair that led to Matthew’s birth. The telephone call came out of the blue: ‘George. There has been a heck of a blow-up over here. Robert is saying he’s not Matthew’s father. Would you mind doing a DNA test?’ This transatlantic conversation, four years ago, between George de Vere Drummond and his former girlfriend, TV producer Kathy Ceaton, was to have extraordinary consequences.

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More than three decades after the pair’s brief romance, the test revealed that Matthew Vaughn, celebrated young producer of the film Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, was not the son of veteran American actor Robert Vaughn. Instead, on the eve of his marriage to supermodel Claudia Schiffer, Matthew found his real father was Drummond,a wealthy British aristocrat and godson of the late King George VI. Days later, Matthew and Claudia flew to Drummond’s home in Barbados for an emotional reunion with his real father. But none of the family has ever spoken of the extraordinary events that led to the dramatic revelation, nor of how they dealt with it. Now Drummond has broken his silence to speak about his newlydiscovered son,his supermodel daughter-in-lawand the passionate affair that led to Matthew’s birth 35 years ago.

Like many members of the upper classes, George, a dapper, engaging 63-year-old with a neat beard and greying hair, is not given to overt displays of emotion. But it soon becomes clear that, even four years on, he remains deeply affected by the discovery of the son he never knew he had. George de Vere Drummond and Kathy Ceaton had similarly privileged backgrounds. George, born in 1943, was brought up in considerable wealth. His father, an old Harrovian also called George, was life chairman of Drummonds Bank, founded by his ancestors in 1712. He mixed in Royal circles and was close friends with George VI – indeed, the King became George Jnr’s godfather. ‘I met the King only once before he died,’ George recalls today. ‘I was about four years old and my father took me to Windsor. I didn’t know what was happening. I just remember being taught how to bow.’ When George met Kathy in the summer of 1970, he had just turned 27 and had inherited [pounds sterling]1million from his father. A shareholder in Radio Caroline, young George drove a Lamborghini and shared a flat in Eaton Square, Belgravia, with 007 star George Lazenby, who had just filmed On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. His social circle included the photographer Patrick Lichfield, racing driver Paddy McNally and restaurateur Michael Pearson, son of Viscount Cowdray, who owned the renowned restaurant Le Coq au Vin. Kathy was a 23-year-old society beauty, daughter of electrical and property tycoon James Ceaton.

Two years earlier, she had been working on the production team of the Eamonn Andrews chat show when she met American actor Robert Vaughn, famous for playing Napoleon Solo in the TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The couple began a relationship and Kathy moved to Los Angeles to live with the 36-year-old actor at his Beverly Hills mansion, where they hosted some of the most glamorous parties on the West Coast, with guests including Steve McQueen and Jack Nicholson. But by 1970, with Robert away much of the time filming, their relationship was foundering. Kathy accepted a job back in London, covering the June General Election for ITN. She stayed at Michael Pearson’s flat in Chelsea, and it was here that she met George. ‘Kathy was marvellous, vivacious, bright and pretty,’ George says today. ‘In those days, the girls who were bright kept it hidden. Kathy was completely different. She was like a breath of fresh air in a superficial world.

As far as I was concerned, she was young, free and single. ‘We would go out to dinner and then on to a nightclub such as Tramp. I would go home around midnight, 1am, but the rest of the gang would stay out and party. For them, lunch at Le Coq au Vin was more like breakfast.’ It was during this period, in late July, that Matthew was conceived, though George had no intention of getting Kathy pregnant. ‘This was the age of the Pill,’ he says. ‘People were having more casual relationships and I honestly didn’t imagine that she might fall pregnant.’ Indeed, barely a few weeks later their romance ended. Kathy was reunited with Robert Vaughn and the couple returned to America, where Kathy discovered she was pregnant. Everyone assumed Robert was the father. The actor, however, was not committed to Kathy and had already begun a relationship with the actress Linda Staab, who later became his wife. By Christmas 1970, with Kathy five months pregnant, he left her. The following month, Kathy returned to London and on March 7, 1971, Matthew was born at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington. George heard about both the pregnancy and the birth but never thought the baby could be his. ‘I knew Kathy had had a son,’ he says. ‘But because he was about two months premature it didn’t occur to me I could be the father. I never even suspected – the dates didn’t add up.’ Kathy was of the same opinion and named Robert as the father. Indeed, for the first year of Matthew’s life, Robert acted like a doting dad, insisting the boy took his name, writing him adoring letters and lavishing him with gifts from Harrods and a christening spoon, a family heirloom.

But just before Matthew’s first birthday, after Robert was reportedly ordered to pay [pounds sterling]191 a month in child support, the actor abruptly severed all contact with both Kathy and Matthew. From then on, Kathy was forced to bring up Matthew singlehandedly. George, meanwhile, was spending time in Barbados, setting up Caribbean Airways. But he had also become embroiled in serious problems – both personally and professionally. In 1971 he appeared in court after being arrested in Germany while attempting to cash a $50 American Express traveller’s cheque in Frankfurt – part of [pounds sterling]205,000 of cheques stolen from a printing firm in New Malden, Surrey. Police raided his house in Eaton Square during a dinner party attended by pop singer Sandie Shaw. George Lazenby paid bail money. George Drummond was jailed for four years on May 27, 1971 – two months after Matthew’s birth – for dishonestly handling [pounds sterling]41,000 of stolen traveller’s cheques. He still maintains his innocence. ‘I was never dishonest,’ he says. ‘I did not realise the cheques were stolen and I paid full value for them.’ Nevertheless, he spent 16 months in Wormwood Scrubs, West London, then Ford Open Prison in West Sussex. He was released in September 1972 and lived in London for the next three years. During this time, he and Kathy renewed their friendship and George would sometimes stay at her home in West London – as a friend, he insists, not a lover. On occasion, he would even find himself babysitting her toddler son Matthew, oblivious to the poignant fact he was his real father. ‘I used to stay with her when I was in town,’ he says sadly. ‘She would say, “I’m going out tonight.” And I would say, “Fine. I’ll babysit.” I would change him and put him to bed. ‘He never used to go willingly. He was a real handful, a real character. I would read to him, or chat to him, not that he would listen anyway.’ Both George and Kathy had many other relationships. George had a three-year marriage to Rachel Manley, daughter of the Jamaican prime minister, and had a son, Drum. He also had an affair with Linda Field, Miss Barbados, before marrying travel agent Debra Hamkins and having another three children: Sarah, now 23, Jade, 22, and Sasha, 14.

He and Debra divorced after 14 years. Kathy, meanwhile, had a disastrous marriage to Panorama producer Tony Summers, lasting only 17 days, and then a son with her second husband, wealthy Pakistani Javaid Saigol. In 1975, George moved back to Barbados and almost lost contact completely with Kathy. ‘After I left England, I only spasmodically stayed in touch with Kathy,’ George says. ‘That is the terrible thing, really, that I did not stay in Matthew’s life. I used to visit quite often in the early years because Javaid and I got on very well, but Matthew was still a young child. He was intense, bright and shy – a lot of my traits, strangely enough – but I didn’t recognise them. After all, I was hardly looking for them back then.’ The next time he heard from Kathy was in 1985, when Matthew was 14. In response to a demand for more child support, Robert Vaughn had told Kathy he had discovered he was infertile and that Matthew could not be his son. To prove his point, Robert had provided a sample of his blood and Kathy contacted George to ask him to do the same. ‘I’d just got married to Debra and was visiting my in-laws in Hertfordshire when I had a call from Kathy asking if I would do a blood test,’ says George.’Obviously I asked what it was all about and Kathy said, “I want to cover all angles, just in case.”‘ In Robert’s mind the tests proved he was not Matthew’s father, but George insists he was never told the news. ‘I didn’t hear from Kathy again and never got the result,’ he says. ‘I never considered asking her and just thought, “No news is good news.” To be honest, I had told my new wife I was doing a blood test for an old girlfriend and it had not gone down very well. So I just brushed it aside and assumed I wasn’t the father.’ Robert Vaughn kept the results private until April 2002, a month before Matthew’s wedding to Claudia Schiffer, when he revealed the truth during a newspaper interview. In the ensuing publicity, Kathy phoned George and asked him to do another DNA test. This time the results were made public.

‘A few days after sending blood back to England I got a call from Kathy, saying, “George, the DNA says you are Matthew’s father.” Obviously I was totally confused and had such mixed feelings. I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact I had met Matthew as a child and then lost contact, that there was somebody out there, my own flesh and blood, whom I had ignored for nearly 30 years. ‘I was terribly sad I had missed out on his youth but on the other hand I was really happy that I had another son, whom I didn’t know about. I am essentially an optimist and tend to see the good in things rather than the bad.’ Shortly afterwards, George received a brief telephone call from Matthew himself. ‘He said, “How would you feel about my coming to see you?” I said, “Of course.” He then duly came out to Barbados with Claudia.’ Unsurprisingly, George was daunted by the task of forming a relationship with an adult son he had met only a few times in his distant youth. He suggested they meet up that evening at the Sandy Lane Hotel, a couple of miles from his home, where Matthew and Claudia had taken a suite. ‘I was extremely nervous and apprehensive,’ George recalls. ‘It was such a huge thing – officially meeting my son for the first time. We met in their suite because I wanted them to have a chance to arrive and get acclimatised to their surroundings, to feel as if they were on their own turf.

If we were at my place, friends could have come barrelling in and it would have been a total disaster. ‘When we finally met, it was just the two of us. I walked in and he said, “Hello. I’m Matthew.” I think I gave him a hug because I knew that if I didn’t do it then, I would never do it. I tend to drink or have a cigarette when I’m nervous but I managed to resist. I thought it was far more important to be myself without any props.